Your mental health

SA-BEST's priorities include:

  • the adequate funding of NGOs that deliver community psychosocial support and other services;
  • provide support for families of patients suffering from mental health who cannot speak for themselves and an appropriate mechanism for their concerns raised to be recorded and acted upon;
  • give priority to those at risk of self-harm and triaged for urgent help;
  • increased primary prevention funding and services;
  • increased prevention funding and services, which includes effective rehabilitation programs; and
  • implement systems to support mental health care workers to ensure they receive adequate support, and that those who have concerns about the clinical and administration practices in mental health are able to speak out without fear of recrimination.

Historically, South Australia had hundreds of mental health beds across the state. That number has now dwindled to just 30 and NGOs have been left to pick up the pieces of what is clearly a government responsibility with limited resources.

SA-BEST supports the Mental Health Coalition South Australia in calling for:

  • a strategy to reduce gaps in our community mental health support system by 50% within three years;
  • the elimination of avoidable mental health presentations in emergency departments;
  • access to suitable housing that allows people to recover and remain well; and
  • embedding the expertise of Lived Experience in system design, delivery and governance.

We support the key asks of the SA Salaried Medical Officers Association in calling for:

  • an increase in funding for Forensic Mental Health Services, including 20 additional beds as per the master plan, with no forensic patients in general hospitals;
  • an increase in Psychiatric Intensive Care beds at Glenside by at least eight;
  • a further 100 general adult mental health beds and 60 beds for older adults;
  • all vacant mental health staff positions to be filled;
  • additional allied health specialists and coordination to address NDIS waitlists, including long term housing for people with complex mental health conditions often with NDIS requirements;
  • additional staff resources including Allied Health, senior and junior doctors, nursing and psychology; and
  • a restructure of the Office of the Chief Psychiatrist.

With one in two Australian adults experience mental illness in their adult lives, and one in five experiencing a mental illness in any given year, an increase in government spending on mental health is needed more than ever before.

26% of young people are living with an anxiety, mood or substance use disorder, with suicide accounting for 1/3 of the deaths of young people.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world we live in.

We are on the cusp of a mental health crisis the likes of which we’ve never seen, planned for or anticipated before.

The cost of mental ill-health to community is enormous.

The Productivity Commission has estimated the financial cost of mental illness in Australia at $220 billion. Workplace absenteeism is costing up to $10 billion per year.

Funding must be increased as a government priority.

SA-BEST considers preventative approaches and early intervention ought to have priority, particularly where causes and triggers for mental ill health can be prevented or mitigated.

For instance substance abuse can be a trigger and/or exacerbating factor for mental ill health. Substance abuse itself may be triggered by depression and anxiety left untreated and unsupported.

Effective rehabilitation programs including inpatient rehabilitation (in particular for ‘ice’ use which can cause psychotic episodes) must be adequately funded.

NGOs that deliver community psychosocial support and other services must be adequately funded. It would be useful for there to be a robust independent assessment of the benefits delivered by NGOs, measured against other programs, as anecdotal evidence suggests they are highly effective and their funding should be increased.

Those at risk of self-harm ought to be given an absolute priority, and triaged for urgent help. Too many lives have been lost because help was not forthcoming when it was needed most.

What SA-BEST will do

SA-BEST remains 100% committed to using every bit of its power to make sure people don’t continue to fall through the cracks.

We will continue to work with professional medical associations, health experts and practitioners to refocus health spending with a priority on patient safety, equity of access, a strong public health workforce and a more accountable and transparent health system.

We have and will continue to support humanised, trauma informed, peer supported initiatives like the Urgent Mental Health Care Centre, which embrace a philosophy of care totally lacking in traditional emergency departments but they need to operate 24 hours per day. People don’t plan a mental health crisis within opening hours.

We have and will continue to support a mental health system co-designed, staffed and governed by those with lived experience.