Leading youth mental health researchers welcome sector funding
Leaders of Western Australia’s youth mental health research sector have welcomed the state government’s $420 million boost to mental health spending in its 2023-24 budget.
The expanded spend, which includes $35.5 million in funding for infant, child and adolescent mental health services and $9.8 million for suicide prevention, was announced by Minister for Mental Health Amber-Jade Sanderson on Thursday 27 April. It lifts the Mental Health Commission’s annual budget to $1.4 billion in 2023-24.
“We really welcome the investment in mental health and the importance of investing in infants, children and adolescents, as we know the origins of mental health challenges later in life often stem from early childhood,” Embrace @ Telethon Kids Institute Co-Director Professor Helen Milroy said.
“Mental health concerns have become one of the most prominent challenges out of the COVID period, so it’s encouraging to see a response by the state government in providing care in the community.”
“We are also excited by the increased support for Aboriginal mental health workers, particularly to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families, which will help us to continue to build cultural safety across the system.”
Embrace Co-Director Professor Ashleigh Lin said the funding was a step in the right direction towards effective prevention.
“It’s important that the needs of infants, children and adolescents are understood, so it’s vital that we have strong leadership in this sector to prevent ongoing mental health problems from emerging,” Embrace Co-Director Professor Ashleigh Lin said.
Dr Nicole Hill, a Telethon Kids Institute senior research fellow and world-leading researcher into suicide prevention and aftercare services, welcomed the increased budget for suicide prevention, “given the rising number of suicides and presentations to healthcare services such as hospital emergency departments for suicide crisis.”
Dr Hill said the priority areas for suicide prevention included improving aftercare for people who have experienced a suicidal crisis, increasing access to mental health services, and developing the capacity of services for priority populations, such as people with neurodisabilities, LGBTQA+ and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
“West Australians are now experiencing unprecedented challenges in areas such as housing and affordable living, which will require further investment in suicide prevention,” Dr Hill said.
In a media statement, Minister Sanderson said the state government recognised “the importance of youth mental health initiatives, secure mental health beds and suicide prevention in supporting community health and wellbeing”.
“Improving mental health outcomes for children and adolescents is another important area of focus and the 2023-24 State Budget builds on our investment from last year,” Minister Sanderson said in the release.
Dr Nicole Hill has welcomed the additional funding for suicide prevention in the state government's announcement.