The Australian Greens spokesperson for mental health, Penny Wright, is calling for rural mental health to be a top priority in Australia’s fifth mental health plan.
Mental Health Australia is meeting with the Federal Government today to begin discussions around the country’s next mental health plan.
Senator Wright, who has worked extensively with rural communities around mental health, says it is time they were put on the map.
“Our current under-investment in rural mental health is costing countless lives every year. Lives that could be saved with access to care and services,” Senator Wright said.
“Recent statistics have shown that in rural Australia people are now 66% more likely to suicide than in our cities. This can be directly traced back to a lack of access to services.
“Our current rural mental health workforce is under-staffed, under-trained and under intense pressure due to demand. Almost 90 per cent of psychiatrists and two thirds of mental health nurses are based in major cities.
“This leaves the 30% of Australians who live in rural and regional areas without adequate life-saving services and care.
“We need to start prioritising mental health in rural areas, and understand that there is not a ‘one size fits all’ across the country approach to mental health.
“I have visited regional areas in every state as part of an extensive listening tour, to find out directly from those in the system how we can build a healthier and stronger rural Australia.
“In 2014 I moved a motion in the senate calling for the Government to implement the recommendations of the Hidden Toll report – that would provide measures to prevent suicide among high risk groups in regional Australia.
“I am excited by the opportunity this fifth mental health plan has to address the dire state of mental health services in rural Australia.
“I call on the Government – including the National Party – to take this opportunity to improve services across the country.
As a result of Senator Wright's regional mental health tour, The Australian Greens now have a fully costed Mental Health Policy. You can read it here.
Media contact: Cambell Klose 0417 173 508