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Challenge

The NSW mental health service system is overly complex and difficult for consumers and carers to navigate. Communities lack access to timely, affordable, community-based mental health and psychosocial support services. People with coexisting conditions have difficulty accessing services that are able to meet their needs holistically. As a consequence, increasing numbers of people present at emergency departments or homelessness services experiencing significant mental health challenges. For young people, mental health is the most frequently nominated issue of concern, with suicide the leading cause of death. First Nations, people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities and people in the LGBTIQA+ community are also more likely to die by suicide.

COVID-19 significantly impacted on the mental health of the community across NSW. Young people, in particular, have been experiencing higher levels of mental distress since the beginning of the pandemic.

What’s in the 2022-23 Budget?

  • $143.4 million over 4 years for the Towards Zero Suicides initiative
  • $28.5 million over 4 years for Lifeline to meet the increasing demand for mental health crisis services
  • $26.4 million over 4 years to establish adult Head to Health hubs
  • $5.2 million over 4 years to support the emotional wellbeing of expectant and new parents and to promote community awareness of perinatal mental health needs
  • $10.1 million over 4 years to embed culturally-appropriate models of mental health care into the NSW health system to improve mental health outcomes for First Nations people and support future ways of working under Closing the Gap
  • $13.5 million over 4 years to expand the State-wide Community and Court Liaison Service to an additional 36 local courts, providing people with serious mental illness charged with low level offences access to necessary treatment and care from Local Health District Mental Health Services as an alternative to custody.
  • $14.6 million over 4 years to commence work on the Banksia Mental Health Unit at Tamworth

What does it mean for those doing it tough?

Investing in psychological services and earlier intervention will support people with mental health conditions to recover and prevent escalation of relapse, while embedding culturally-appropriate practice into the health system will improve the experience of people from First Nations communities to feel safely supported through their recovery journeys.

Women experiencing perinatal metal illness, and their families, will benefit from access to additional counselling services and resources to improve their overall wellbeing.

People living with severe mental health conditions in contact with the criminal justice system will be provided with an alternative response that can address their mental health conditions and potentially reduce recidivism.

What is needed?

 NCOSS understands that most initiatives under this funding announcement are part of a bi-lateral agreement signed in March 2022 with the Commonwealth under the National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Agreement.

While NCOSS welcomes these initiatives, very little acknowledgement has been given on the role “step-up, step-down” places play in supporting people to safely transition back into the community from inpatient settings or assist to minimise deterioration or relapse leading to admissions. These short-term residential services in the community can reduce pressure on emergency departments and prevent unnecessary hospitalisations.

NCOSS welcomes the Head to Health hubs that also support people in mental health distress who might otherwise present to emergency departments and can support or refer them to appropriate clinical and support services in the community. NCOSS will continue to advocate for more hubs in rural and regional settings where services are limited.

Further information

 Budget responses from the sector

Sector priorities

Read our analysis on other specific policy areas below:

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Housing and Homelessness

Domestic and Family Violence

Child Protection

Education

Building Resilience

Cost of Living

NCOSS Media Release: Big Spending Budget Fails Those Most in Need