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In The News  
ACT Government’s ‘New Strategy’ No Solution to Mental Health Problems for Canberra
21st September 2005

The ACT Government was stuck in yesterday’s paradigm according to the Chief Executive of the Mental Health Council of Australia John Mendoza.

“Putting more money into new buildings located at hospitals doesn’t help people with mental illness stay well in the community.

“Any investment in mental health services is to be applauded. However, Minister Corbell’s announcement today of a ‘new strategy’ for mental health looks a lot like more of the same”, Mr Mendoza said.

The ACT Government announced today plans for a new psychiatry unit, a high security facility and to move the mental health crisis assessment team into the casualty department at The Canberra Hospital. Mr Mendoza pointed out that State and Territory Governments across Australia, when they do invest in mental health, are choosing to invest in bricks and mortar in acute hospitals.

The Mental Health Council of Australia contends that Canberra is ideally placed to develop more innovative, integrated, community-based services for people with mental illness. Key to providing good quality mental health care for the Canberra community is a range of support services outside the hospital. These services help keep people well and avoid the need for expensive acute inpatient care.

“Today’s strategy says nothing about providing long term accommodation options, it says nothing about providing step-up and step-down care, and provides no money for preventative mental health care.

“We thought the Minister understood the issue of mental health. However, the strategy so far announced focuses only on acute hospital care for people who are already ill. There will be ribbons for the Minister to cut on new buildings but these buildings will not make a real difference to mental health care in Canberra” Mr Mendoza said.

Media Contact: Sue Thompson, MHCA Communications Unit, 02 62853100

The Mental Health Council of Australia is the independent, national representative body of the mental health sector in Australia. MHCA members include representatives of mental health service consumers, carers, special needs groups, clinical service providers, public and private mental health service providers and state/territory mental health peak bodies.

Reproduced with Permission

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