Skip to content

Mental Health Services to Be Expanded Across Northern Territory

Mental Health Services to Be Expanded Across Northern Territory

The federal and Northern Territory (NT) governments will invest more than $43 million (US$31.8 million) over the next five years into mental health and suicide prevention across the NT.

In a landmark bilateral agreement announced on Monday, the feds have pledged $30.65 million, and the NT $13.25 million (US$9.8 million)to expand these services to where they are most needed, particularly to the group known as the “missing middle” people who are too unwell to receive effective services through the primary mental health system, but not acutely ill enough to access state or territory based care.

NT Health Minister Natasha Fyles said the pandemic has shown that mental health is a significant challenge confronting Australians right now, adding that the mental health needs in the NT are complex and vastly different to those of other jurisdictions.

“We have invested significantly in mental health support across the Territory, and we will continue to do so to improve services for Territorians,” she said.

“Thank you to the Commonwealth for partnering with us to make this support available to Territorians.”

The funding consists of $15.4 million (US$11.4 million) for two new Head to Health adult mental health satellite clinics and ongoing funding of the existing one.

Additionally, $9.3 million (US$6.88 million) will be used to create universal aftercare services for all Territorians who have been discharged from a hospital following a suicide attempt so that they can receive immediate follow-up care.

Another $9.1 million (US$6.73 million) will be provided for a new Head to Health Kids Hub to improve access to multidisciplinary team care for children.

Further, $5.7 million (US$4.22 million) will be used to enhance two headspace centres for improved access to multidisciplinary youth mental health services.

In addition, $3 million (US$2.22 million) has been allocated to supporting perinatal mental health screening, while $1.3 million (US$962,000) will go towards ensuring all people in the Territory who are impacted by suicide can access postvention support services.

Federal Minister for Aged Care Greg Hunt said the new funding would ensure NT residents have access to additional mental health support when and where they need it.

“This landmark partnership between the Commonwealth and the Territory will have a significant impact on the lives of many Australians across the state, including young Australians, who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

While Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data does not show that the rate of suicide has increased during the pandemic, it does show that levels of psychological distress rose during the specific waves of COVID-19 and the associated lockdowns, with a subsequent rise in the use of mental health services.

Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, David Coleman, said a major focus of the agreement is to reduce the suicide rate in Indigenous communities.

“Indigenous Australians die of suicide at more than double the rate of the non-Indigenous population,” he said.

“This is a national tragedy, and through this agreement, we will be working closely with Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations and Non-Government Organisation service providers across the Territory to ensure relevant services are culturally appropriate.”

The bilateral agreement is a part of the $2.3 billion ($1.7 billion) National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Agreement, which the New South Wales, Queensland, South Australian, Tasmanian, and Northern Territory governments have all signed on to.

The National Agreement aims to clarify roles and responsibilities, progress improvements in the mental health services across all age groups, improve data collection and evaluation, reduce gaps in the system of care, expand and enhance the workforce, and improve mental health and suicide prevention for Australians across various settings.

Original link : Mental Health Services to Be Expanded Across Northern Territory