Parties must seize opportunity for serious mental healthcare reform that includes mental health nurses

Wednesday 13 April 2022

As parties start to make their election pledges, the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses (ACMHN) urges politicians to grow the specialist mental health nursing workforce to better support the mental health and wellbeing of Australians.

Whilst we’re still to hear more election promises from the Coalition beyond their recently announced pre-election budget that plans to further boost the National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan, the federal Labor party has pledged to provide a 50 per cent Medicare rebate on mental health video consultations.

“The College is glad to see an emphasis on mental health, but we don’t think this is nearly enough to solve the serious mental health crisis Australia finds itself in,” ACMHN CEO Stephen Jackson said.

“Without reform that recognises specialist mental health nurses (MHNs), mental health care services in Australia will continue to struggle to meet current demand. This can only have devastating outcomes for the future if current demand is not improved.”

The ACMHN recommends that parties prioritise:

  1. Granting Credentialed Mental Health Nurses eligibility to be Better Access providers to use their considerable qualifications in psychological therapies.
  2. Reviving and restructuring the Mental Health Nurse Incentive Program into an MHN Access Program (MAP) for consumers with complex but non-urgent needs.
  3. Adding MHNs to the list of eligible National Disability Insurance providers of therapeutic and behavioural supports.
  4. Funding to ensure an MHN or nurse practitioner mental health position is available within each federally-run aged care residential facility.
  5. Recognising mental health nursing through national registration via the Nurses and Midwifery Board.
  6. Assisting the ACMHN to co-ordinate the development of either the re-introduction of a three-year direct entry program or the development of a new four-year undergraduate dual degree where graduates finish with a qualification in mental health nursing.
  7. Funding the development of specialist credentials in areas including acute care, nurse practitioner, psychotherapy, and education.

“The ACMHN stands ready to work with governments and politicians on all levels and from all sides to put these strategies into practice,” Mr Jackson said.

Read the short submission here.

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Australian College of Mental Health Nurses press release, Federal Election 2022, Federal election 2022 mental health, mental health nursing, mental health policy Australia

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