Peak mental health nursing body urges the Government to provide the appropriate resources needed to #rebuildhumans

Monday 7 January 2019

The ACMHN welcomes the Federal Government’s $2billion investment to undertake the rebuilding efforts of Australian communities affected by the fire disasters, with a specific commitment to invest in mental health services.

 “As the representative organisation for mental health nurses in Australia, we welcome a commitment to fund mental health services for those affected by the fires”, said ACMHN President, Prof. Eimear Muir-Cochrane.

"While the commitment is what is needed to assist people to comprehend the reality of the damage and loss experienced, we would like to better understand what proportion of the funds will go to mental health services, how this will be deployed, and more importantly, that mental health rebuilding is not lumped in with structural rebuilding.”

 “Rebuilding a home, a town or even a tourism industry has very measurable goals and outcomes but rebuilding a human’s mental health is another challenge entirely.”

ACMHN members are ideally placed to understand the enormity of the mental health challenges we will face in the weeks, months and years ahead and it is important to ensure those most in need are being given the resources, funds and physical means to reach a mental health nurse.

Mental health nurses in the community are skilled at addressing both the physical and the mental needs of the community – an effective, holistic approach to recovery. Those mental health nurses attached to GP clinics, state or federal health systems, or as independent practitioners in the wider community are an effective and cost-effective way to address the wider needs of the community in times like these. They have the practical and pragmatic skills to address both mental and physical needs.

 “An important consideration for the Government is that we will have many Australians displaced by the fires for months to come, so their regular and familiar doctors and practitioners may not be available as a resource. Likewise, assistance needs to be tangible. It is counterproductive to offer a rebate for health services if people don’t have the funds to service appointments at the outset, or even more troubling, not offering rebates at all for mental health nursing services.”

ACMHN welcome further information being made available about the commitment to mental health and ask the Government to consider how they will bring professional services directly to those in need.

“We would also like to acknowledge that there will be an increased need for mental health services generally for Australians who have been affected by the bushfires but not necessarily suffered direct loss. These are people who have potentially fled a fire zone, have family affected or even just those processing what they are seeing in the media. We urge all Australians to take the time to ask those around them, R U OK?”

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Australian College of Mental Health Nurses press release, mental health nursing, Rebuild humans

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