A coalition of mental health advocates has called on all levels of government to come up with a holistic and integrated roadmap to improve services as mental health incidents continue to weigh on the industry workforce due to the pandemic.

The Australian Economic Development Committee (CEDA) hosted an interactive livestream on May 4th that featured a panel of experts to discuss the future of mental health services.

The discussion focused on the effects of COVID-19; lack of integration between government services; Affordability, access and navigation; Stigma and discrimination in all areas of society; the industry workforce does not meet the demand; and current and future strategies to improve services.

Among the three panelists during the CEDA livestream was Lucinda Brogden, chair of the National Mental Health Commission, who spoke about mental health, which costs national productivity about $ 200 billion a year.

She also spoke about how the commission was developing new strategies – including the first child mental health and wellbeing plan – to address the growing cases of the effects of the pandemic.

Ms. Brogden said there were already “roadmaps” that could be followed to achieve a more holistic approach, including “evidence-based interventions that our clinicians, academics, and those with lived experience are creating together and increasing access to data”.

Jason Trewothan, CEO of Headspace, said the organization had “re-created a new understanding of the vulnerability and empathy of people with mental health problems” over the past 12 months.

“Not surprisingly, 40 percent of young people think the pandemic has damaged their confidence in achieving future goals,” he said.

“It (stigma) is probably a lot less than generations past, but today 74 percent of young Australians still say there is a stigma surrounding mental illness, which is why young people are looking for a safe and trustworthy place to seek help . “”

Mr Treworthan said the labor supply does not match the demand for services.

He said one solution is to better link primary and specialist care and “don’t underestimate the family unit and see how it can help help so many people before mental health emerges”.

Professor Allan Fels, professor at Melbourne University and Patron of Mental Health Victoria, said governments need to give mental health a higher priority than before.

In a March report, the Australian Institute for Health and Welfare found that the volume of pharmacy prescription-related mental health prescriptions increased in March 2020 when the first restrictions were put in place, followed by a decline in April and a gradual upward trend in mid-December .

“This has been observed in all jurisdictions,” the report said.

Lifeline data shows that there were more than 85,000 calls in the four weeks ended January 24 of this year, up 10 percent and 21.4 percent over the same periods in 2020 and 2019.

ACT Mental Health Minister Emma Davidson said the increased demand is expected to remain “beyond the pandemic.”

“Following the bushfires and health pandemic, canberrans have increased, especially young people who report mental health problems and have access to services,” Davidson said.

“People are complex and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to addressing mental health issues. That is why the ACT government is identifying ways to fund and implement a range of community and clinical services.

“That’s why we’re also working on integrating support to ensure that people in their community have access to care before the point of crisis.”

ACT Minister for Mental Health Emma Davidson. Image: Elesa Kurtz

Ms. Davidson said the government has implemented a number of initiatives to ensure that aid is available to all Canberrans, regardless of where they are on the continuum of need.

“We need to be creative and identify ways to engage people with mental health problems who are otherwise not engaged in services,” she said.

“For example, Safe Haven Cafes provide a community-based environment for people to drop by and access services, and the funded youth navigation portal will improve online access to youth mental health support.

“This includes transitioning between different care models to meet people’s needs over time and keep them connected to their communities, such as the recently opened Southside Step Up Step Down facility.

“There are also services that make sure no one is left homeless or unsupported, like the Gawanggal Extended Care Unit, that support people in their homes or in their community – like the police, the ambulance or the clinician’s emergency team. “

Ms Davidson said the need for an interconnection system was across the country.

“As in any jurisdiction in Australia, the ACT can have difficulty recruiting. The ACT government continues to be committed to making our employees feel valued, safe and supported,” she said.

Federal Health Secretary Greg Hunt launched a competitive $ 15 million grant round in March to improve the treatment of debilitating mental illnesses.

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This story calls for more “holistic” mental health support as stress service cases first appeared in the Canberra Times.

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