Budget 2021: Mental health 'a clear national priority' to get $2.3b

The budget will include billions for mental health measures. Picture: Shutterstock
The budget will include billions for mental health measures. Picture: Shutterstock

A network of 40 mental health centres for adults will form the centrepiece of a $2.3 billion commitment by the federal government to act on preventing and treating mental ill-health.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has called addressing mental health "a clear national priority" and taking action "goes to the heart of who we are as Australians, helping those who need it most".

Focusing on prevention and early intervention, suicide prevention, treatment, supporting the vulnerable and workforce and governance, the government says the spending on dozens of measures will transform mental health care in Australia.

"Suicide is the leading cause of death in those aged 18 to 44," Mr Frydenberg said.

"Tragically, over 65,000 of our fellow Australians attempt to take their own lives each year."

Of the overall spend, $1.4 billion will go towards treatment, including the development of a network of mental health treatment centres, to be called Head to Health centres. The community based centres will include a range of professionals, including mental health nurses, psychologists and psychiatrists and peer workers who have experienced mental health issues.


The government says the centres will address the missing middle - those who are too unwell for the general primary care system, but not unwell enough to be in hospital. One such centre is already open, another seven will open across the country in the next year, and another eight have been funded in the budget.

A further 24 new satellite centres, based on models rolled out in Victoria during the extended COVID-19 lockdown, will also be established. The locations for the new centres are yet to be announced.

Head to Health will also include a digital platform that will provide counselling, peer support, clinical support and referrals.

The existing Headspace system, aimed at younger people, will be extended. Fifteen Head to Health centres aimed at children up to 12-years-old, will also be established across the country.

A new National Suicide Prevention Office will also form part of the plan, with the government saying it is working towards a target of zero suicides.

Almost $300 million will be spent on suicide prevention, including $158.6 million for aftercare for up to three months for every Australian discharged from hospital following a suicide attempt.

Almost $80 million will be spent on a renewed National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy and $16.9 million for mental health early intervention and support for migrants and multicultural communities.

Almost $60 million will be spent to increase the workforce needed to deal with mental health, including money for scholarships and clinical placements and $11 million to increase the number of psychiatrists.

  • Lifeline 131 114
  • Kids Helpline 1800 551 800
  • BeyondBlue 1300 22 4636
  • Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467

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This story Mental health 'a clear national priority' to get $2.3b first appeared on The Canberra Times.


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