Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

More community mental health funding will help thousands

Joint Media Release with:

  • The Hon Mark Butler MP, Minister for Mental Health and Ageing. Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Mental Health Reform

A program that has helped more than 17,000 Australians with severe mental illness will continue to provide support to people in need, thanks to a $51 million boost from the Gillard Government.

Seventy-eight community mental health services will share in the extra funding, which will keep about 400 professional helpers and mentors working to support people with mental illness in communities across Australia, as part of the Government’s successful Personal Helpers and Mentors initiative.

This investment means that more than 1,000 mental health workers are now funded by the Australian Government through to June 2014 – providing intensive, one-on-one support to people with mental illness in more than 170 communities.

Personal helpers and mentors provide practical support to people with mental illness and help them to set and achieve personal goals. This can include finding suitable housing, looking for work or improving relationships with family and friends.

By working with mentors, people with mental illness can build their confidence, improve their health and wellbeing and increase connections with their community, reducing social isolation.

This investment builds on an unprecedented $2.2 billion investment by the Federal Government over the next five years into Australia’s mental health system, under the National Mental Health Reform package.

The Government’s investment of more than $330 million in the Personal Helpers and Mentors initiative since 2008 has helped more than 17,000 Australians through a community-based approach, which sees mentors connecting with people with mental illness in their own environment.

This extra support from the Federal Government means that more than 26,000 people with mental illness are expected to have been assisted by these mental health professionals by June 2014.

An independent evaluation last year of Government community mental health initiatives, such as Personal Helpers and Mentors, found that these services are making real improvements to the lives of people with mental illness right across regional and metropolitan Australia.

The Gillard Government’s continued support for personal helpers and mentors means more people living with mental illness can get the care and support they need.