Health Services Funding Uncertain For Australian Patients With Mental Health Illnesses

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Health benefits of Australians with mental illnesses are at a risk of termination as the federal state has not confirmed continuous support after June 30. Australian organisations Mental Health Australia, Headspace, and the Black Dog Institute expressed their concerns to Prime MInister Tony Abbott and Health Minister Sussan Ley regarding the instability of their health programmes.

These organisations said in a letter addressed to these officials that they have not been updated about the government’s decisions on whether they will receive continuous funding or not. The National Mental Health Commission has conducted a review of the Australian mental health sector. The results are yet to be released, and are currently with Ms. Ley.

Furthermore, the organisations iterated that this issue is going to cause major problems, not only for the beneficiaries, but for the employees as well. They said, "Some agencies have indicated that without this advice, they will have to give staff notice of termination of employment in a matter of days. This ongoing uncertainty is causing a huge disruption to organisations and increasingly, deep anxiety amongst the people they serve." 

MindSpot Clinic, which offers free services to Australians experiencing mental problems, has already informed their patients that may have to terminate their online and telephonic support services after April 15 until funding issues are clarified. To date, MindSpot Clinic has reached out to 30,000 patients. Three hundred to four hundred new patients are being seen weekly; half of whom are from rural areas, where there are limited venues for personalised mental health services.

Angela Govan of Townsville, Queensland, attested to the help of MindSpot as she told ABC, “The counsellor was fantastic ... I couldn't have got through the course without that contact.” Angela, a registered nurse, adds that the therapist she found on MindSpot online has helped her during her periods of anxiety and depression. "It made a huge difference and I now have the skills to keep that anxiety under control," she closes.

Mental Health Australia Chief Executive Frank Quinlan hopes that the prime minister and health minister can clarify the matter as soon as possible. Meanwhile, Ley has already released a statement concerning this Australian health problem, "In my consultations with mental health organisations, I have been highly conscious of the need for certainty, and we're committed to working with the sector to continue delivering frontline services to those who need it." Ley also said that report will be released soon, and that the government is currently in the finalising the funding arrangements.

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