With natural disasters and unprecedented devastation across Australia, mental health services and facilities has been acknowledged as one of the key areas required to help support those affected.
However the federal Government has delved a little deeper and whilst pledging $76 million to mental health services specifically for those affected by the bushfires, the need for more funding for suicide prevention and mental health in general has been a long-standing issue for years with the rate of lives lost through suicide in Australia, increasing each year.
Yesterday the Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, announced the federal government would be investing $64 million in suicide prevention and mental health initiatives. "This is a national tragedy." Said Mr Hunt. "Every life lost by suicide has a devastating impact to families, friends and communities. Every life lost affects our whole country."
The funding was a response to the recommendations submitted by the National Suicide Prevention Advisor, Ms Christine Morgan who consulted with community groups, organisations, individuals families and local governments to get a relevant understanding on the resources needed to support both those going through a mental illness or suicide attempt to supporting the families of those that have lost someone.
"In talking to individuals and communities over the past six months, it has been clear to me that we need to co-design our suicide prevention approach in a way that is led by those with lived and living experience of suicide." Said Ms Morgan. "We often think of services and systems and what is available, rather than truly understand what people need and what has worked, and not worked, for them in the past. We need to put people back at the centre of policies and planning."
The proposed initiatives will have a primary focus on supporting vulnerable groups including:
- Australian's who have been discharged from hospital after a suicide attempt
- Families and carers who have lost a loved one to suicide
- Young Australians, particularly in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and in regional and rural areas.
The Government is making significant funding pledges to mental health across a few areas with an increase from $4.9 billion in 2018-2019 to $5.2 billion in 2019-2020 and a significant emphasis on youth mental health and suicide prevention with $509 million out of the $740.6 million being committed to youth mental health and suicide prevention plan which is the largest ever amount dedicated to that demographic.
It is reassuring to see action and initiatives being implemented from a Government level on suicide prevention and we encourage everyone to continue to be a part of the necessary movement in keeping the conversation of mental health in the forefront and break the stigma surrounding mental health to enable people to reach out and seek help.