Mental Health Australia chair Matt Berriman slams Labor inaction

Berriman will say a whole-of-government commitment is needed “to try and fix a dysfunctional and underfunded system”.

“Mental health was rapidly brought to the forefront during the COVID-19 crisis but appears to have just as quickly slipped off the agenda. This is not good enough. It is not a problem that is going away without a larger focus on taking action,” he will say.


“Commitment to mental health reform should be treated with the urgency and respect it deserves – our calls for action have been ignored for too long.”

Mental Health Australia, which is the non-government peak body representing more than 80 member organisations, wants the government to develop and fund a multi-year mental health road map and workforce strategy.

It says there should be more access to early intervention and digital mental health supports so people can get help before problems snowball, as well as options for people with complex needs who require more than 10 psychologist sessions a year. To that end, it says the government needs to fund psychosocial services outside the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Ipsos research commissioned by the peak body and published on Wednesday shows 59 per cent of Australians say the rising cost of living is having a major effect on their mental health, with 45 per cent particularly worried about housing costs.


One in five say that cost is a barrier to accessing mental health support. But when they can access it, 93 per cent of people said that support improved their mental health.

Mental Health Australia chief executive Carolyn Nikoloski said there were many key recommendations from a 2020 Productivity Commission report into the mental health system that had not been touched.

“The government needs to be setting clear roles and responsibilities for mental health across the Commonwealth, state and territory governments and the sector, as well as improve regional planning and commissioning of services and implementing strong accountability mechanisms,” she said.

Berriman says it is time for the government to focus on outcomes and accountability, not just talk.

“Inaction on mental health reform is widening the chasm for access to mental health services – leaving millions of Australians struggling to get the support they need,” he will say in his speech.

“Looking ahead to the mid-year economic and fiscal outlook, and the 2025 federal election, a mental health road map must be funded beyond budget cycles and with foresight and vision to rectify the grave disparities in mental health care.”

The government was contacted for comment.

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