Western Australia budget lacking recognition of mental health nurses

Monday 13 September 2021


The Australian College of Mental Health Nurses (ACMHN) welcomes the Western Australian government’s decision to allocate over $1 billion to the WA Mental Health Commission but urges that qualified mental health nurses play a greater role in the state’s delivery of mental health services.


“The investment in the mental health of Western Australians during the COVID-19 pandemic shows the McGowan government is recognising and addressing mental health for the significance of the crisis happening right now,” ACMHN Vice-President Monica Taylor said.


Western Australia is investing an additional $495 million, which will total more than $1.114 billion allocated in 2021-22, into existing and new mental health services, programs, and infrastructure, largely in response to COVID-19. This includes $129.9 million going to services supporting youth mental health, over $50 million for mental health initiatives in regional areas, and $135.7 million for outpatient treatment services.


Outpatient treatment services are a vital part of health care services as they can prevent hospitalisations, relieve some pressure on hospital emergency departments in addition to supporting people post hospitalisation.


“Mental health nurses (MHNs) were previously able to intervene and prevent hospitalisations by providing the necessary support for a variety of people and mental health presentations. What is lacking now is the recognition of what a qualified MHN can do to help people irrespective of the severity of their presentation, and access to the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS),” Ms Taylor said.

 
Qualified MHNs have an extensive range of holistic skills that can be used to provide support at the various community mental health facilities, youth mental health facilities, and mental health initiatives in regional areas, helping people avoid hospitalisation, and keeping a person connected to their local community.
“MHNs are willing and able to help, and have the knowledge and experience to support Western Australia’s mental health system. We urge the McGowan government to tap into the potential of MHNs and fully utilise this skilled workforce,” Ms Taylor said.


“We hope to also see the McGowan administration commit to a research investment to improve clinical practice, mental health nurses’ wellbeing and job satisfaction,” she added.


For further comment, please contact ACMHN communications team at communications@acmhn.org.


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