Services such as headspace are vital to our community’s health.
There is no disputing this, and nobody is trying to.
The question is, how best to set such services up to meet the ever-growing demand for their help.
We will be keenly tracking developments in this space throughout the three-year mental health services reform period, ending in 2019.
The federal government has delegated many of the responsibilities to its 31 Primary Health Networks, which are only relatively new themselves.
The Murray Primary Health Network, which covers Bendigo, started on July 1, 2015.
It will assume responsibility for managing five headspace centres on July 1 this year.
As part of its role, Murray PHN will create a plan for integrated and accessible mental health services and suicide prevention programs, tailored especially to the region and community.
That will determine the future of our headspace centre, beyond the funding promised by the federal government for the next two years. Why?
The National Mental Health Commission’s review of mental health programs and services, released in December 2014, determined our approach was lacking.
“The overall impact of a poorly planned and badly integrated system is a massive drain on peoples’ wellbeing and participation in the community—on jobs, on families, and on Australia’s productivity and economic growth,” the review read.
“Despite almost $10 billion in Commonwealth spending on mental health every year, there are no agreed or consistent national measures of whether this is leading to effective outcomes or whether people’s lives are being improved.”
Headspace in Bendigo has an average of 125 new referrals from people aged 12-25 each month.
That’s a significant number of young people accessing the free service. Especially considering recent research, in which headspace was involved, found many aren’t seeking help for fear of the stigma attached.
Murray PHN chief executive Matt Jones has assured us the focus of long-term planning will be to build on the service.
We hope the reforms will further encourage people to seek help, and make it even easier to do so.
- Emma D’Agostino, journalist.