The current level of funding for mental health services and resources must be increased if Queensland is to tackle its high rates of mental health disorders and suicide, the Queensland Branch of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) has warned.
‘For the past decade, Queensland’s core community mental health services has seen no growth in funding and the system is under intense strain as it treats the mental health issues of a growing population, with increasingly complex problems,’ Associate Professor Brett Emmerson, AM, Chair of the Queensland Branch of the RANZCP said.
‘Queensland needs new investment in core community mental health services for adults, children and youth, and older persons, to keep pace with increasing caseloads, and to alleviate pressure on hospitals.’
‘Core community mental health services are also reporting a growth in complex and high-risk patients, yet are not resourced to provide the specialised treatment required. Core community mental health services require ongoing investment in acute care teams, staff training and program development.
‘Some high-risk patients presenting in mental health crisis, including those in transition from places of care or custody, would benefit from specialist treatment in a purpose-built facility,’ Associate Professor Emmerson said.
The Queensland Branch recommends that the elected government establish a dedicated inpatient unit in South East Queensland for patients who are assessed as complex and high-risk. The proposed unit would also help to relieve the strain on acute inpatient units, which experience competing demands for beds from emergency departments and the community.
‘Mental health issues experienced during the perinatal period are also a major public health concern which can have serious, long-lasting and potentially intergenerational consequences. It is now widely accepted that women requiring inpatient treatment have improved outcomes if they are accompanied by their babies.
‘Until recently, Queensland had no dedicated public mother and baby psychiatric beds, which meant that a mother requiring inpatient treatment for perinatal mental illness was usually admitted to an acute mental health unit without her baby,’ Associate Professor Emmerson said.
The RANZCP Queensland Branch calls upon the major political parties to commit to:
- Boosting funding for core community mental health services for adults, children and older people.
- Establishing a dedicated inpatient unit for high-risk, complex patients in South East Queensland.
- Establishing additional mother-baby inpatient units at hospitals across the state.
- Investing in increased community mental health services for high-risk, complex patients.
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The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists is a membership organisation that prepares medical specialists in the field of psychiatry, supports and enhances clinical practice, advocates for people affected by mental illness and advises governments on mental health care. For information about our work, our members or our history, visit www.ranzcp.org.