$43 million in new funding for mental health initiatives across the territory


The Commonwealth and NT governments have announced $43 million in funding for mental health and suicide prevention services in NT which they say will cover gaps in existing services, which the NT Lived Experience Network has welcomed, while calling for community engagement in the development of the NWT Mental Health Service Delivery Plan.

The new funding will cover the next five years of mental health services after the NT Suicide Prevention Policy Framework launched in 2018 is due to end next year.

The Commonwealth will invest $30.65 million to expand mental health care services “where they are most needed”, while the Northern Territories Government will contribute $13.25 million.

Governments have said new mental health services, particularly for people in the group known as the “missing middle”, and suicide prevention services, will be put in place with the new funding.

According to Australian youth mental health policy think tank Orygen, the “missing middle” is a term used to describe people whose needs are not being met by current mental health services.

The funding breaks down as follows: $15.4 million for two new Head to Health adult mental health satellite clinics and ongoing funding for the territory’s first center which opened in January of this year; $9.1 million for a new Head to Health children’s hub; $5.7 million to upgrade two Headspace Centers to increase access to multidisciplinary youth mental health services; $9.3 million to establish universal aftercare services, so that anyone discharged from hospital following a suicide attempt receives immediate aftercare; $1.3 million for people bereaved or affected by suicide can access postvention support services; and $3 million to support perinatal mental health screening.

NT Lived Experience Network spokeswoman Noelene Armstrong said the group was pleased that there was broad support for expanding and improving the peer workforce, which at the national policy level is recommended as part of all mental health services.

“Evidence of peer work demonstrates that it improves the recovery orientation of mental health services and that peer workers are an essential component for multidisciplinary teams,” she said.

“Territories accessing mental health services have long expressed a desire to receive support from services that include more peer workers and targeted support to develop the emerging peer workforce will be welcome in the Territories. North.

“In order to implement services that truly meet the needs of Territorians, it is imperative that funding agencies prioritize broad and authentic engagement with individuals and families who have been impacted by poor mental health, suicidality and related problems.

“Authentic collaboration with the lived experience community is necessary to maximize the effectiveness of new services using allocated funding.”

Ms Armstrong said they hoped that engagement with people with lived experience of mental illness to develop the recently announced services could be combined with a level of deeper community engagement for the development of the development plan. full NT services.

“Deeper engagement with the NT lived experience community in the development of the plan will help NT funding agencies identify and rectify the fragmentation of mental health services and pathways in NT,” said- she declared.

The new money comes as the mental health department has been hit particularly hard by recent staff shortages at the Royal Darwin Hospital, according to the Australian Federation of Nurses and Midwives.

In 2020, the age-standardized suicide rate in the Northern Territories was 20.4 per 100,000, compared to 19.5 suicide deaths per 100,000 population in 2018, according to data from the Australian Institute of Health. health and well-being.

The new funding builds on the $50 million already invested in mental health by the Commonwealth in recent years, including $20 million for the new Head to Health Center in Casuarina and $30 million for an inpatient unit additional eighteen beds at the Royal Darwin Hospital, the federal government said.

Health and Aged Care Minister Greg Hunt said the deal will ensure the Territories have access to additional mental health support, including young Australians, who have been affected by the pandemic of COVID-19.

The Prime Minister’s Assistant Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, David Coleman, meanwhile said one of the main aims of the bilateral agreement would be to reduce the heartbreaking suicide rate in Indigenous communities.

“Indigenous Australians are dying by suicide at more than double the rate of the non-Indigenous population,” Mr Coleman said.

“This is a national tragedy and through this agreement, we will work closely with Indigenous community-controlled health organizations and non-governmental organization service providers across the territory to ensure that relevant services are culturally appropriate.

In 2020, 3,139 people died by suicide in Australia. The age-standardized suicide rate was 12.1 per 100,000 people. It was the 15th leading cause of death.

A 2007 national survey of mental health and wellbeing indicated that 2.1 million or 1 in 8 (13%) of Australians aged 16-85 had seriously thought about taking their own life at some point in their lives. .

Australians needing help throughout the COVID-19 pandemic can access the Beyond Blue Coronavirus Wellness Helpline anytime by phone on 1800 512 348 or online at coronavirus.beyondblue.org. to

Anyone in distress can also seek immediate advice and support through Lifeline (13 11 14), Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800) or the government’s digital mental health portal, Head to Health.

If you are concerned about suicide, live with someone who is contemplating suicide or are grieving suicide, the suicide callback service is available on 1300 659 467 or www.suicidecallbackservice.org.au

Young Australians in need of help can access free services through Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800), their local headspace or online through eheadspace (https://headspace.org.au/eheadspace/).

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