Mental health policies and strategies have come to the forefront of discussion within the last days of the election campaign.
The Coalition, Labor and the Greens have proposed how they will strengthen current policies and outlined how much they will spend.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, suicide is the leading cause of death for people aged 15 – 44. In 2014, 12 deaths per 100,000 people were suicides.
Both the Coalition and Labor government said they were committed to funding youth-targeted organisations, such as Headspace.
According to Headspace, one in four young Australians have experienced mental health-related issues in the past 12 months, statistically higher than all other age groups.
Psychologist, Tammy Wang, explains Australians within the 18 – 25 age bracket are more susceptible to mental illness because of pressure or uncertainties in their life.
“Having extra support, through a psychologist or a counsellor, is even more important,” she said.
The Black Dog Institute applauded all major parties for their focus on mental health in the election campaign.
“The focus on mental health and suicide we are seeing in this election reflects the importance of this issue to the Australian community and increases our ability to save and improve many thousands of lives,” the institute said in a press release.
The Turnbull Government has promised that, if re-elected, it would invest $196 million towards mental health reforms.
Ten Primary Health Network lead sites will receive $26 million to trial new approaches to mental health. Four of the sites will specifically focus on suicide prevention.
Throughout regional Australia, $24 million will be invested into eight Suicide Prevention Trial sites.
In addition to these, the Coalition said it would guarantee the funding for digital technologies to allow for 24-hour mental health services and strengthening the National Mental Health Commission.
“We have to learn to recognise depression in family, friends and work mates and reach out to them before it’s too late,” Mr Turnbull said.
“This is why my government is investing more in mental health and making services more accessible, including through our smart phones.”
Meanwhile the Labor Government claims it aims to reduce suicide by 50 per cent over the next 10 years.
The Shorten government said it would dedicate $72 million to 12 new regional suicide prevention projects over the next three years.
Working with experts, Labor would establish 12 sites in locations with higher numbers of suicide deaths, at least three of the sites would be specific for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
Labor would also dedicate $9 million to reducing the stigma of mental health and support Australians seeking help.
Alternatively the Australian Greens announced it would invest an additional $1.4 billion in mental health funding.
Dedicated to increasing funding to $400 million for Primary Health Networks, which support patients at a local level, and $280 million to the Mental Health Nurse Incentive Program.
Strategies aiming to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness would be given $40 million, focusing on “at risk” groups such as Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders and the LGBTI community. – Ashleigh Cant
Photo by Noel Fisher.