So far important issues like mental health have been ignored in this year’s federal election. While there has been a lot of heated discussion about mental health, there has been too little focus on delivering the services needed in our community. And this has come into stark relief as the CEO of Headspace stepped down over the changes to funding to the organisation that delivers mental health care to young Australians.
The recent furore around Medicare has sidelined discussion around other health matters like mental health. But it became apart this week that the Turnbull Government will be dismantling Headspace, the organisation that provides mental health services to young people aged 12-25. Last
week the CEO of Headspace announced he was standing down as a result of the Turnbull Government’s decision to redirect funding for Headspace to the 31 existing Primary Health Networks.
Unfortunately this means that the national platform created for the mental care of young people will now be split up with potentially 31 variations of the platform. And worse still there is no requirement on the Primary Health Networks to continue to offer early intervention programs. The Primary Health Networks may decide that they don’t want to invest the money in early intervention since the funding for such programs has not been ring-fenced. And with no guarantees that early intervention programs will continue it is all-too-likely that the Primary Health Networks will not fund such programs.
In effect the Turnbull Government has gutted a vital service for young people and their families seeking help with their mental health. It might be convenient to talk about mental health services, but it’s far more important to ensure such services are properly funded, coordinated and integrated to deliver the best mental health services possible.