To call the nation’s mental health system “fragmented” would do disservice to a dusty hard drive. Actually to call it a “system” is even a bit of a stretch. Everyone, from patients to the policy class, is agreed that Australia’s mental health services are in need of urgent reform. Well, everyone but Mark Latham, who is of the minority view that mental ill health is a fiction written by “worried well” lady writers he doesn’t like. Most other commentators, peak bodies and politicians accept the evidence: people are sick and services are scant. “Chin up” is no longer a recognised strategy.
There may be consensus that something significant needs to be done, but that doesn’t translate to the view that something needs to be spent. There are few signs from Health Minister Sussan Ley that funding to the sector is likely to increase. While the mental health envelope has been a little more generously stuffed in recent years, data sets show that relative to other OECD nations, our own spend on mental health relative to the health budget falls far behind.