The NSW Government’s economic roadmap has mental health as a top priority with a record $130 million to provide immediate access to help for anyone whose mental health has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The funding boost will provide more appointments for psychology and psychiatry services, address the sharp rise in eating disorders and self-harm presentations, free up more mental health beds and launch the biggest suicide prevention training program ever undertaken.
Premier Dominic Perrottet said the lockdown combined with working from home and home schooling has seen a record number of people reach out to crisis lines.
“This funding means that parents, children and the most vulnerable in our community can get the help they need now,” Mr Perrottet said.
“As we navigate the economic recovery from this pandemic we must also support people’s mental wellbeing along the way.”
Minister for Mental Health Bronnie Taylor said the new funding will provide public access to private psychiatrists, psychologists and mental health beds as well as training 275,000 people in the community to become mental health first aiders.
“We want NSW to be a whole state of mental health champions, which is why we’re launching a statewide community training blitz to make sure help is always close at hand, from the schoolyard to the sports club and beyond.” Mrs Taylor said.
“This is all about fast-tracking access to boosted services to support people doing it tough right now as well as preventing the emergence of mental health issues in the future.
“Our focus over the next two years will be on supporting our young people and families, building system capacity to meet demand and supporting our communities to lead the recovery,” Mrs Taylor said.
Treasurer Matt Kean said the funding builds on the $2.6 billion 2021-2022 NSW Mental Health Budget – the largest mental health investment in the state’s history.
“We’re leading the nation with our COVID-19 mental health support for our communities, making sure the help is there for particularly vulnerable groups, from new parents to older adults, children and young people,” Mr Kean said.
“Mental health issues often present after the crisis, so as we emerge from lockdown and life returns to normal, this funding will mean parents and children will have free access to help, where they need it and when they need it.”
Key highlights of the mental health recovery package include: