Residents in the Mackay-Isaac region have better access to mental health care and support thanks to the Federal Coalition Government’s strong investment in regional mental health services.
During a virtual visit this week hosted by local MP George Christensen, Regional Health Minister, Dr David Gillespie said the Federal Government is providing millions of dollars in funding to boost mental health services in rural, regional and remote Queensland.
“Ensuring all Australians can access the mental health care they need is a priority for the Nationals in Government, and I know George Christensen has been a very strong advocate in expanding local support for mental health services,” Minister Gillespie said.
“Additional funding is being provided both for ongoing reform of mental health services and to address the mental health impacts of the pandemic.”
Mr Christensen said the Federal funding reflects both ongoing reform of mental health services and the extra mental health issues caused by the pandemic.
“Whatever the cause, there’s no shame in feeling stressed, anxious or depressed and it’s important to reach out and get advice and support,” Mr Christensen said.
“With strict border closures and on-and-off lockdowns, the past 18 months have been far from normal.”
The Federal Coalition is investing more than $93 million over four years to the North Queensland Primary Health Network (NQPHN) for critical mental health and suicide prevention services.
The Federal funding committed by the PHN into local initiatives, includes:
- More than $10 million over four years for Safe Spaces, including the new crisis space at Mackay Base Hospital. These spaces provide alternatives to emergency departments for people in mental distress
- More than $1 million over three years to allow people in NQPHN to be referred to the Way Back Support Service in Cairns. The service provides non-clinical, follow up care and practical support to people who have had a suicidal episode
- Almost $400,000 in 2021-22 to establish and operate a new headspace service for the Whitsunday, expected to open in December. This new headspace service is part of the Government’s $111.3 million funding commitment to establish 30 new headspace services. The new service will be a satellite from the existing headspace Mackay, which will receive more than more than $896,000 in federal funding this financial year; and
- $8 million over two years from 2021-22 to NQPHN to continue its psychosocial support program for people with severe mental illness who are not in the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
Dr Gillespie said the region was continuing to benefit from important initiatives aimed at reducing mental health toll of the COVID pandemic.
“Through our investment in telehealth, 38,000 Medicare-subsidised mental health services were delivered via telehealth in the region in 2020-21, building on our $100 million Better Access Initiative delivering further mental health support,” Dr Gillespie said.