Mental health nurses sidelined in Federal Budget yet again

Wednesday 12 May 2021


With the Budget published on the eve of International Nurses day, Australian College of Mental Health Nurses (ACMHN) president Dr Mike Hazelton said that now was the time to recognise the extent to which nurses everywhere have 'answered the call' during this global pandemic.


“This has been especially so for mental health nurses (MHNs) and it is likely we will need to keep doing so well into the future, given the mental health impacts of COVID-19. The ACMHN looks forward to working with the government to build high quality mental health care available to Australians living with mental illness.”


Whilst the College welcomed the Federal Government’s funding boost for mental health and nursing, the vulnerable and underserviced ‘missing middle’ – those too unwell for primary care, but not unwell enough for state-based services – has not been given enough attention, and the important work MHNs do for these people continues to be overlooked.


“This is a major omission that needs to be addressed in government initiatives to rebuild the Australian mental health system from the ground up,” ACMHN president Dr Mike Hazelton said.


“I would like to join others who have commented on the very poor state of mental health care in Australia and acknowledge the importance of the $2.3 billion allocation to mental health in the budget. I take this as an expression of good will by the Government heeding the recommendations that many reports and individuals in the mental health sector have been putting forward.”


Within this large spend, the ACMHN welcomed the $27.8 million allocated to increasing the number of nurses, psychologists, and allied health practitioners in mental health settings.


The College was pleased to see support for the development of and access to services for people with eating
disorders and their families and the allocation to enable Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
(RTMS) to be included on the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) for people with medication-resistant major
depressive disorder.


The College also acknowledges the substantial allocation of $1.1 billion to battle domestic violence.


“We welcome the spend, as much of the work that MHNs do throughout the mental health service sector is in relation to caring for and supporting individuals and families that have been the victims of violence,” Dr Hazelton said.


“MHNs are the only mental health professionals who also deal with physical health, so let us be front and centre in providing help to tackle issues such as suicide, domestic violence, and COVID-19.”


For further comment, please contact ACMHN President, Dr Mike Hazelton on 0448 121 012 or at president@acmhn.org


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