Celebrating World Mental Health Day
World Mental Health Day is an opportunity to raise awareness about mental health issues, combat stigma and encourage people in need to seek help.
Speaking at a series of World Mental Health Day events hosted by the Mental Health Council of Australia, Minister for Mental Health Mark Butler said community organisations had rallied behind this year’s message that ‘whoever you are or wherever you live, you’re not alone’.
“There has been a concerted effort by community organisations and individuals in Australia to put mental health on the map and that has given strength to a lot of people as well as building the case for an increase in services,” Mr Butler said.
“I encourage anyone who is experiencing a mental health issue, whether it is substance abuse, anxiety, depression or an eating disorder to discuss it and ask for help.”
Mr Butler also welcomed a report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) released to coincide with World Mental Health Day, which shows an increase in the number of people accessing mental health services up to June 2010.
The report noted the total spend on mental health-related services in 2009/10 by the Australian Government, the state and territory governments and private health insurance funds topped $6.3 billion but this did not include the Gillard Government’s $2.2 billion mental health reform package announced last year.
“The good news is that around 1.7 million Australians, or 8 per cent of the population, received public or private mental health services in 2009-10, up from 1.5 million in 2008/09,” Mr Butler said.
“And I think we’ll see an improvement from this base following the introduction of the Government’s $2.2 billion mental health reform package.”
Mr Butler said the Gillard Government’s $2.2 billion mental health reform package is having a significant impact on the ground.
“Dozens of new headspace youth mental health services are now available, plus new online mental health tools, better support for people accessing hospital emergency departments and more allied psychological services.”
Minister for Families, Community Services, Indigenous Affairs and Disability Reform Jenny Macklin said the AIHW report also found that the number of people severely affected by mental illness taking part in the Government’s Personal Helpers and Mentors Program had risen by 26 per cent in 2010-11, to 12,400.
“The Personal Helpers and Mentors Program is a big help to thousands of Australians and it’s great to see people accessing the service,” Ms Macklin said.
World Mental Health Day is an annual event coordinated internationally by the World Federation for Mental Health and supported by the World Health Organization.
In Australia, it is held in conjunction with Mental Health Week and organised and coordinated with Government support by the Mental Health Council of Australia, the peak, national, non-Government organisation established to represent and promote the interests of the Australian mental health sector.
The Mental Health Council of Australia’s theme for 2012 is Whoever you are and wherever you live, you’re not alone.