Mental Health Spending On The Rise – Report

Mental Health Spending On The Rise – Report
February 2, 2016

Spending on mental health services in Australia has hit $8 billion, according to a new report released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

The report, Mental Health Services in Australia, shows that over $8 billion was spent nationally on mental health services in 2013–14 in Australia – equivalent to $344 per person.

Of the $8 billion funding, the report said 60 per cent was provided by state and territory governments, 36 per cent by the Australian Government and 4 per cent by private health insurance funds.

The report said the distribution ratio had remained relatively stable over the past five years.

Adjusted for inflation, the funding from the Australian Government for mental health-related services increased on average by 4.7 per cent annually over the period 2009–10 to 2013–14.

Funding from state and territory governments also increased over the same period, but by a smaller average annual amount of 2.6 per cent.

Spending on state and territory specialised mental health services totalled $4.9 billion for 2013–14.

“The largest proportion of this state/territory government recurrent expenditure was spent on public hospital services for admitted patients ($2.1 billion), followed by expenditure on community mental health care services ($1.9 billion),” AIHW spokesperson Tim Beard said.

In 2013–14, the Australian Government spent an estimated $971 million in benefits for Medicare-subsidised mental health‑related services – this equated to 5 per cent of all Medicare subsidies. There was also an estimated $753 million spent on subsidised prescriptions under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme/Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, making up 8.1 per cent of all subsidies.

“Expenditure on psychologist services made up the largest component of mental health-related Medicare subsidies (43 per cent), and prescriptions for antipsychotics and antidepressants accounted for the majority of mental health-related PBS/RPBS expenditure during this period (57 per cent and 36 per cent, respectively),” Beard said.

The report said specialised mental health services for admitted patients were provided by 159 public hospitals during 2013–14. These facilities had 6,791 specialised mental health beds available, and provided care to admitted patients for over 2.1 million patient days. In addition, 63 private hospitals delivered specialised mental health services, providing 2,593 specialised mental health service beds.

There were 2,427 residential mental health service beds available during 2013–14, with almost two-thirds provided by government operated services.

There were over 30,500 full-time equivalent (FTE) staff employed in state and territory specialised mental health care services in 2013–14, equating to 131 FTE staff per 100,000 people, with over half of these (51 per cent) being nurses.

The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide relevant information and statistics on Australia’s health and welfare.

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Relief Strategies – The Failings Of Our Mental Health Industry

Relief Strategies – The Failings Of Our Mental Health Industry

As a mental health professional, I’m extremely concerned about the state of our mental health industry.

Being on the receiving end of a phone call when a stranger shares with me…

  • “my son just committed suicide” is heart wrenching;
  • a wife sharing that her husband was found with a gun in his hand … he had not pulled the trigger but was sobbing uncontrollably;
  • a mother entering the office to get support with her child’s behaviour, yet she feels so sad and resigned to ‘this is my lot in life’ and misses having joy in her everyday living.
  • Partners (males and females) entering with obvious bruises and war wounds from the domestic violence coming from a person they love most in this world.
  • teenagers seeking support for panic attacks as they lead into their exams.

In addition, obsessions, eating disorders, depression, anxiety, alcoholism and addictions are all patterns of behaviour to which we have become so desensitised that we, as society, now accept them as normal.

Many of these people have previously sought professional support, but the common response I hear is “it didn’t work”.

The mental health industry is wide and diverse and we have more qualified professionals than ever before. In fact, we have more money going into research, a wider range of pharmacological treatments, greater specialisation and increased accreditation standards of mental health professionals, than at any time in history. Yet when you observe the statistics, an obvious increase in mental health issues is being recorded in comparison to the decline that one would expect with all these increased resources. The World Health Organisation reports that mental disorders are amongst the leading causes of ill health and disability worldwide, with one in four people being affected by poor mental health or neurological disorders at some point in their lives. At the time of the report, WHO shared that 450 million people suffer such disorders.[1]

We must consider that these statistics relate only to those who have sought support and do not include all the unreported cases in the world who are struggling to live their true potential, living with untreated and deteriorating symptoms.

So what is going on?

I have been working in this field since 2002, examining, in varying ways, what is occurring in our mental health industry. My conclusion is that it is common practice to offer ‘relief and solution based’ treatment.

We are relieving people from the symptoms they are experiencing in their body rather than addressing the root cause of why those symptoms are being experienced in the first place.

Relief is short-term whereas self-mastery is life long – relief strategies will only ever offer relief

Relief strategies are simply forms of treatment that offer a person a relief from feeling the symptoms in their body they would prefer not to be feeling. They are strategies that disconnect us from our body and do not connect or re-connect a person to their body. Relief strategies come in many forms and will be discussed further in coming articles, but typically speaking they are commonly accepted and at times considered evidence-based and best practice in our mental health profession. This is my concern.

Relief strategies serve a purpose, absolutely, but we must remember that at best these strategies only offer short-term results for any person. The harm comes when the short-term results are clocked as success and treatment is ended there: this is where we, as part of the mental health industry, are failing.

True and lasting healing will only begin when we are connected to all that is within and around us and we are ready to fully experience the unwanted symptoms.

Self-mastery is life long…

We could consider that there are always root causes behind mental health symptoms, stemming from negative experiences that we do not wish to feel. Avoiding these feelings creates blockages that require healing. The negative experiences may simply be aspects of life that are seen as challenging, uncomfortable or unwanted in some way. Self-mastery involves taking self-responsibility to feel the negative feelings, and then any person is capable of healing the original root cause and clearing their blockages. Our work as mental health professionals is therefore to support people to take responsibility for clearing the blockages, and NOT to relieve their symptoms.

It is through self-responsibility that self-mastery of life will occur – this means life-long change for us all.

I look forward to the day that our mental health industry embraces life-long healing as our primary source of treatment. I predict that it will only be then that we will reverse the current rising trends!

[1] The World Health Report 2001 – Mental Health: New Understanding. New Hope

The original of this article with links to other material here By Tanya Curtis, Author, Behavioural Specialist, Assoc Dip Ed. (Child Care), BHlthSci. (BehMgt), MBehMgt, MCoun

Why Taking The Occasional Day Off Work Is Good For You

Why Taking The Occasional Day Off Work Is Good For You

Emily Blatchford
The Huffington Post Australia
June 6, 2016

With the cost of absenteeism to the Australian economy estimated to be around $32.5 billion, it’s safe to say Aussies are well and truly familiar with the concept of chucking a sickie.

While the practice may seem harmless enough, it can also be safely assumed not rocking up to work because you can’t be bothered or because you’re sporting a ripping hangover is hardly an example of professionalism.

However, is there a difference between ‘chucking a sickie’ and taking a mental health day?

According to Mental Health Australia CEO Frank Quinlan, the answer is yes, and indulging in the latter can be a great way to reset and recharge.

“I would have thought in this day and age, people have a much greater appreciation of looking after themselves,” Quinlan told The Huffington Post Australia.
“People who are able to look after themselves — so, for instance, those with flexible working arrangements, where possible, or who are able to effectively balance work life and family life — tend to be more productive and healthy and happy employees.”

Quinlan argues if employers are happy for an employee to take a day off if they are feeling under the weather physically, the same standard should apply for mental health.

“Employers don’t require everybody to have a doctor’s certificate for every single day off they have,” he said. “Some things are obviously more serious than others.
“And so the same should apply to mental health. If someone needs a day to assist them in managing stress, dealing with personal issues and so forth, then I think occasionally taking a day for themselves [should not only be allowed] but that most reasonable employers would understand that’s part of maintaining a healthy happy life.”

Of course, that’s not to say people should start having days off left, right and centre.

“You wouldn’t want that to be exploited,” Quinlan continued. “It’s easy to see how people might easily exploit that opportunity.
“But I think in most workplaces that are really trying help promote healthy and trustworthy relations with their employees, to have an employee put their hand up to take some time off for themselves in order to manage some issues, they should be trusted to do that.
Sometimes that day off will be enough just to reset and get people up on track.

In saying this, Quinlan also points out an individual feeling the need to take multiple mental health days may have an underlying issue that needs addressing.

“If people are finding that they are constantly in need of that time off, maybe it’s time for them to take additional steps,” Quinlan said. “This may include talking to their employer about the amount of workload or the stresses they are experiencing.
“Additionally, talking to a GP or mental health professional about the management of mental health issues may prove beneficial.
“To put it quite simply, we can’t take all our days off. We have to learn to cope and have to learn to manage our issues. A mental heath day might be just what the doctor ordered, but it might also be a sign that someone might want to think a bit more about managing their mental health.”
We are used to the idea that sometimes our body needs a rest to avoid getting really sick, and we take a day off in the early stages of a cold so we don’t progress to something more severe. The same is true of mental health.

As for what is to actually gain from a day at home, Quinlan said depending on the situation, it could be as simple as resting and rebooting away from the busy and often stressful workplace environment.

“I think there can be all manner of benefits depending on people’s circumstances,” Quinlan said. “It’s an opportunity to step outside of a potentially stressful or crisis-ridden environment in order to reassess priorities and goals.
“It can also be about the business of resting. We are used to the idea that sometimes our body needs a rest to avoid getting really sick, and we take a day off in the early stages of a cold so we don’t progress to something more severe.
“The same is true of mental health. It’s about reading your own warning signs and potentially recognising it’s time to step back.”

This page reproduces an article on The Huffington Post Australia website.

National Framework for Recovery Oriented Mental Health Services

National Framework for Recovery Oriented Mental Health Services

The National Framework for Recovery Oriented Mental Health Services (the Framework) was launched on 21 August 2013.

The Framework provides a new policy direction aimed at enhancing and improving mental health service delivery in Australia. The Framework draws on national and international research to provide a greater emphasis, national understanding and consistent appraoch to recovery-orientated mental health practice. The Framework defines personal recovery as being able to create and live a meaningful and contributing life in a community of choice with or without the presence of mental health issues.

There are four documents that make up the Framework.

1.  Guide for practitioners and providers (report)
2.  Policy and theory (report)
3.  Consumer and carer guide (pamphlet)
4.  Practitioner guide (pamphlet).

The information on this page has been copied from an entry on the website of The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners.

Mental health reform starts today

This page contains a brief statement by the CEO of Mental Health Australia Limited and a number of links to various articles. Mental Health Australia Limited, November 27, 2015