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Historic reforms increase access to community-based mental health care

22nd December 2014

The NSW Government today committed to a once-in-a-generation overhaul of mental health care service delivery, which will increase mental health care funding by $115 million over the next three years.

NSW Premier Mike Baird made the announcement at The Wayside Chapel, Potts Point, and was joined by Minister for Mental Health Jai Rowell, Minister for Health Jillian Skinner and NSW Mental Health Commissioner John Feneley.

The reforms are in response to the Mental Health Commission of NSW's Strategic Plan for Mental Health. The Plan was developed over two years to provide a new framework for the delivery of mental health services.

The NSW Government has accepted all actions outlined in the Commission's plan, which includes:

  • Strengthening prevention and early intervention - with a stronger focus on services for children and young people;
  • A greater focus on community based care - including a phased transition of long-stay psychiatric hospital patients into community care and providing more community based services;
  • Developing a more responsive system - through improved specialist services for people with complex needs such as personality disorders;
  • Working together to deliver person-centred care - including better integration between mental health services, mainstream health, justice and human services, and Commonwealth funded services; and,
  • Building a better system – including by developing the mental health workforce, increasing NGO capacity to deliver services for government.

Mr Baird said the reforms aim to strengthen the role of the non-government sector in meeting the needs of people with mental illness.

"We want to boost the capabilities of providers such as The Wayside Chapel, so they can help meet the need for mental health care that exists in the community," Mr Baird said.

"For decades, The Wayside Chapel has been a beacon of hope to people who find themselves at risk of homelessness as a result of complex mental health issues.

"People have a better chance at recovery if they're able to access the care they need in the community. That's why we're committed to partnering with community-based providers to improve access to services, and deliver better outcomes.

"We are committed to realising this plan and will provide an extra $115 million to implement this strategy over the next three years. This will be in addition to the record $1.6 billion the NSW Government is spending directly on mental health services this financial year alone."

Mr Rowell said the additional funding would help deliver a range of services aimed at meeting the needs of people experiencing mental illness at all stages of life.

"The NSW Government will provide increased access to specialist mental health, drug and alcohol and parenting interventions for families, clinical supports for people with severe mental illness and services for new mothers and their children," Mr Rowell said.

Mrs Skinner said the NSW Government's commitment provided a vital shift towards community based care.

"For too long mental health care in this State has been tied to delivery in an institutional setting, which we know doesn't reflect what people want or need," Mrs Skinner said.

"International best practice shows people with mental health issues stand the best chance of recovery if they receive care in the community, so we support the Mental Health Commission of NSW's vision to increase access to community-based care."

Mr Feneley said he was delighted the NSW Government's commitment supported a new direction for mental health services in NSW.

"We know people do better when they receive prompt and adequate support in their own homes or communities, with their friends and families around," Mr Feneley said.

"This is an excellent first step towards rebalancing our system towards support that allows people to live well according to their own choices, even when they are experiencing mental health challenges.

"I look forward to our continuing work with the NSW Government and the community to shape and extend these important reforms."