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5.7b mental health fund must prioritise complex issues says health group

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The Federal Government mental health fund is confirmed at a record $5.7 billion for 2020–21, but SANE Australia says it’s critical that Australians affected by complex mental health issues such as schizophrenia and personality disorders are not left further behind.

SANE Australia Deputy CEO Dr Michelle Blanchard says the announcement to extend the Medicare Benefit Schedule Rebates through the Better Access Initiative from 10 to 20 sessions for people right around Australia with a mental health plan will make a significant difference.

“This is a welcome announcement given the impact COVID-19 has had on the mental health of our community,” Dr Blanchard said. “However many Australians affected by complex mental health issues have told us they would benefit enormously from more than double that amount, to be able to see the impact of the talking therapies that would best meet th

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eir needs.” she said.

While the Government is yet to release the findings from the Productivity Commission’s Report on Mental Health, SANE Australia anticipates these findings will reinforce the urgent need to reform the Australian mental healthcare system to meet the needs of those who are currently falling through the cracks.

“Urgent investment is required not just for clinical care, but in evidence-based psychosocial support, in peer work and in action to ensure that everyone has a place to call home, meaningful employment and the opportunity to participate in the life of their community, free from stigma and discrimination,” Dr Blanchard says.

“The inclusion of an additional $500 stimulus payment for recipients of aged, carer, family and disability support pension is a welcome contribution to people living on low incomes, including those are living with complex mental health issues or are carers, who require additional financial assistance to meet the costs of daily living.” she said.

SANE Australia also welcomes the additional mental health fund for the National Disability Insurance Scheme but says it steps must be taken to increase participation from people affected by complex mental health issues who meet the eligibility criteria.

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