Qld mental health funding in the spotlight

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Queensland could take inspiration from mental health care in Portugal and Scandinavia as professionals call for a significant increase in funding to the sector.

The state “spends the least of any state or territory on mental health” and could benefit from an increase of at least $700 million a year, according to the Australian Medical Association.

“During COVID, we have seen a 28% increase in referrals to emergency departments for mental health services and a 50% increase in referrals to GPs for patients seeking help for mental health issues “said WADA Queensland President Professor Chris Perry.

A number of wealthy European countries “have higher spending and better outcomes” in their approach to mental health, a hearing of the Queensland Parliament Select Committee heard on Thursday.

“If you catch psychosis in Denmark, you get a psychotherapist guaranteed for two years to help you organize your life, and you take that person with you wherever you go.” According to Associate Professor John Allan, Queensland Health’s Executive Director, Mental Health Alcohol and other Drugs.

In Finland, technology is bridging the gap in delivering effective mental health care to remote communities, he said.

“They actually get the best therapists for telemedicine.”

As Queensland ‘pockets its weight’ globally, there is much to learn from these overseas role models, Prof Allan said.

According to the Royal Australian New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, Queensland is the least funded per capita jurisdiction for mental health care, and an injection of around $750 million is needed, the hearing heard on Thursday.

“We actually have an efficient system, and if we’re running an efficient system…then our per capita expenditure should be slightly lower,” says Shaun Drummond, COO of Queensland Health.

Some of the state’s mental health care happens in the acute system and isn’t accounted for in mental health spending, he said.

“Part of that is the opportunity to see how we actually redirect that into a stronger model for the community, because there are expenses happening elsewhere in our system.”

Although the exact figure is unclear, Professor Allan says more funding is needed.

“How much of that is going to be decided by other people, but I think we’re trying to argue that it’s a big amount of money,” he said.

Different approaches to mental health care can have effects on flows for other areas of government spending, the committee was told.

In Portugal, addiction rates fell following the decision to decriminalize the possession and use of all illicit substances two years ago.

“They’ve changed the way they interact with drugs and alcohol in the community, and so it’s produced different outcomes for them, including reduced pressure on corrections, reduced pressure on police (and) reduced pressure on the courts,” Queensland Mental Health Commissioner Ivan Frkovic said. told the audience.

“We are not Portugal, we are different from Portugal, but there are elements and pockets in Canada, in the United States … even just across the divide in New Zealand, but also here in the Queensland, we’re doing really good things with it.”

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