Mental health plan update highlights continued underinvestment in community-managed and forensic services

Greens spokesperson for mental health and suicide prevention the Hon Alison Xamon MLC welcomed the release today of the 2018 update of the WA Mental Health, Alcohol and Other Drug Services Plan 2015-2025 (the Plan), but said there was a long way to go to reach the plan’s targets.

“The Plan was developed through a thorough and robust consultation and economic modelling process and I am pleased the McGowan Government is undertaking work to map progress towards the plan’s recommendations,” said Ms Xamon.

“I am also pleased there has been some increased investment in mental health and alcohol and other drug services in Western Australia since 2017. Mental health has historically been an area neglected by Governments and this increase has been desperately needed.”

Ms Xamon said that despite this increase there were clearly areas that required significant attention to reach the target service levels recommended under the Plan.

“I am particularly disappointed that our mental health system is still severely balanced toward hospital and acute services, with only 19% of Community Support target levels and 38% of Community Treatment target levels reached so far,” said Ms Xamon.

“As acknowledged in the Plan Update, little progress has been made on rebalancing the system – without investment in community-managed services people are not able to access early intervention and support, and the cost of this gap is borne by vulnerable individuals and by expensive acute hospital-based services.”

“Furthermore, the ongoing failure to see any action to address the appalling ongoing lack of forensic mental health beds is frustrating. The Plan aims for close to a 250% increase in these beds by 2025, yet the numbers have actually gone down from a woefully inadequate 37 beds in 2015, to 35 beds at 30 September 2018”.

“The continued lack of substantial investment by the McGowan Government into community support and prevention services, and well as youth and forensic services, makes it very difficult to see how we are going to meet the Plan targets – the Government needs to demonstrate commitment to rebalancing the system, and to meeting all the recommendations of this comprehensive document.”

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