Crossroads: rethinking the Australian mental health system

Australia's mental health system will face an additional cost to the taxpayer of $9 billion if the structure and emphasis of the current system is maintained, argues  Crossroads: rethinking the Australian mental health system.

One in two Australians will experience a mental health disorder during their lifetime. Less than half of those who do will receive appropriate support and treatment. Left untreated, mental health problems often get worse, affecting every aspect of a person's life and creating a significant economic burden on the Australian community.  For this reason the National Mental Health Commission has called for a doubling in the proportion of the Australian population who receive "timely and appropriate mental health services and support." However, projections show that if we continue with business as usual, the current mental health system will require at least 8,800 additional mental health professionals, at a cumulative cost of $9 billion to Australia (in today's dollars) over the 15 years in order to be able to deliver on this objective. This presents a very significant cost-burden, which in the context of already fast-growing health costs is simply unsustainable.

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