There is a catch 22 of mental health reform: the “missing middle” is the seven to eight per cent of Australians with mental illnesses not severe enough to require hospital treatment whose needs for care are not being met in the community setting.
Now, this catch 22 looks set to be resolved.
Australians struggling with their mental health will be able to call a new national hotline that will book them in for treatment in a bid to unify Australia’s fractured mental health system across eight states and territories.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews have been consulting closely on reform ahead of the Commonwealth’s commitment to have a national mental health agreement by November.
Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention David Coleman is optimistic other states are also keen to help address gaps in the system.
“I think everyone recognises that 2021 is a really big opportunity,” he told this masthead in an interview following the budget, which included $2.3 billion for mental health.
But reform is made difficult by the fact the mental health system, like healthcare more generally, is split into federal and state responsibilities.