Submission to the Review of Mental Health Services and Programmes

In April 2014, the St Vincent de Paul Society made submission to the Review. The Society plays a very large role in mental health around Australia. We do this, in part, because there is a gap that is left by public programs. 

Executive summary

An individual’s mental health crisis almost never occurs in isolation:  it is intertwined with housing stress, employment options, race, gender, class, place, and the success or otherwise of previous mental health interventions. We call for a new approach to mental health in Australia that recognises these intersectional issues, and focuses on community education and early intervention.

Results of the Review

The Commission's Report was given to government late last year, and it seemed like it wouldn't be made public. However, the Executive Summary of the Report was leaked to the media on 14 April, 2015 and subsequently a couple days later the full report was made public by the government.

The Report reiterates many points Vinnies made in its submission including that the mental health care system is fragmented and fails to deal with the intersectionality of mental illness and housing need. The Report’s recommendations also align with Vinnies submission, especially the recommendation for education campaigns to reduce the stigma of mental illness; for a health system that responds to whole-of-life needs (not just support at the moment of crisis); for a health system where services are ‘wrapped around a person’ and lastly more focus on culturally sensitive practice for ATSI people.

While Vinnies agrees with the Report’s broad recommendations to invest in preventative health and early intervention measures, it is concerned by specific funding suggestions to take money out of acute care and the Disability Support Pension (DSP) in order to increase funding for primary prevention. We support increase funding for primary prevention we do not wish it to come at the expense of acute care and the DSP. It will take time for the economic benefits of primary prevention to be fully felt. We need to invest more upfront, for dividends in the long-term.