AMA submission to Draft Ten Year Roadmap for National Mental Health Reform

8 Mar 2012

The AMA has reviewed the Government’s Draft Ten Year Roadmap for National Mental Health Reform (the Roadmap) and is pleased to see that some of the directions set out in the plan incorporate elements of the AMA Position Statement on Mental Health 2011. This includes reducing stigma and discrimination, increasing access to early intervention and support and improving accessibility of mental health and support services.

The AMA has nevertheless highlighted the impact of funding cuts for GP mental health services and the lack of recognition for the vital and increasing role that GPs play in caring for patients with mental health illness and their families.

The AMA submission highlighted the importance of specifically targeted programs for special needs groups, and the need to develop measures to address systemic barriers to mental health services in particular the need for a greater emphasis on:

  • Increased support for drug and alcohol services to treat, or otherwise assist, people with dual diagnosis (drug and relevant health issue); and
  • Increased access to psychiatrists, psychologists, and drug and alcohol counsellors for Indigenous people, through the MSOAP visiting specialist Centre.

In addition, the AMA Council of General Practice identified the following issues that should be considered for inclusion in the Roadmap or for further specific policy development:

  • Acknowledging and addressing the safety of patients, particularly vulnerable groups who are at greater risk of violence including sexual assault.
  • The handover of patients as they transition back into the community, with particular attention paid to the role that GPs play in patients’ ongoing care once back in the community.
  • Improved access to life and other insurance policies for patients who have suffered or are suffering a mental illness.