Federal budget does not give mental health nurses the recognition they deserve
Wednesday 30 March 2022
Whilst the Federal Government’s pre-election budget sees a welcome boost to further progress the National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan, it fails to utilise the skills and expertise of mental health nurses.
Last night, the Federal Government announced its 2022-23 budget, setting aside $547 million over five years to fund stage two of the National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan.
The Australian College of Mental Health Nurses (ACMHN) welcomed the support for vulnerable Australians, early intervention activities, better mental health treatment, and improving workforce and governance. However, if the government wants to achieve these goals, it cannot continue to ignore qualified mental health nurses (MHNs).
“This budget completely misses the mark on workforce issues. Australia’s mental health care system will continue to struggle without greater recognition of MHNs,” ACMHN CEO Stephen Jackson said.
“The $18.3 spend on pathways to practice programs for nursing, allied health, and psychology students does not specifically identify mental health nurses as a specialty. Qualified MHNs are outstanding, highly skilled, and educated mental health clinicians. The government simply isn’t recognising that,” Interim President Professor John Hurley said.
“Mental health nurses are at the forefront of prevention, early intervention, and research into mental health. This budget does not reflect their contributions in these spaces at all,” ACMHN Vice-President Monica Taylor said.
“More support for Australians’ mental health is always welcome, but the government needs to be more strategic about how it’s spending this money. Giving the Credentialed Mental Health Nurses access to a broad range of Medicare Benefits Schedule items would’ve been an effective and logical step to stabilise Australia’s ailing mental health care services,” she added.
Professor Hurley said that the College was set to continue advocating for more recognition of MHNs and talking with all parties about ways to make this happen.
“Qualified MHNs can provide Australians with the best mental health care. It’s time governments in the country finally recognised that,” Professor Hurley said.
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