Govt's $6.5m initiative to bolster mental health services

19 June, 2014

The federal government is bolstering mental health services in Australia, with a $6.5 million initiative to train primary health practitioners in the use of e-mental health therapies and associated technologies.

In a statement last week (17 June) Minister for Health, Peter Dutton, said Queensland's University of Technology would lead the e-Mental Health in Practice (eMHPrac) initiative, in partnership with the Menzies School of Health Research, The University for Rural Health at the University of Sydney, the Australian National University and the Black Dog Institute.

"One in five Australians suffers from mental illness every year, while around 45 per cent of Australians will be affected by mental illness at some stage in their lives," Dutton said.

"The government is investing in e-mental health as part of our overall plan to improve primary care, which will be critical to the future success of our health care system.

"International research has demonstrated that telephone and online services can be equally effective for people with anxiety and depression as face-to-face therapy.

Keeping mental health professionals abreast of new technology

"eMHPrac will provide specialised training and support in the provision of e-mental health therapies and associated technologies to GPs, psychologists, social workers, counsellors, practice nurses and other health professionals, who may otherwise find it difficult to keep abreast of developments in the field.

"There's a special focus in the programme on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers, as well as health care providers in rural and remote areas who are providing services to Indigenous people.

An additional $5 million will be allocated to developing a new comprehensive e-mental health platform to make it easier for young people to access mental health support 24 hours a day.

Dutton said: "This is part of a series of investments in Mental Health that were announced in the budget including 10 additional headspace sites and $22 million for the Mental Health Nurse Incentive Programme."