Mental health

I really want to commend the member for Fisher for this motion and recognise that he has an ongoing and passionate commitment in this space. That is something that we on this side understand and acknowledge. His motion acknowledges that mental health is a crucial area, which says it all. The government has made mental health an absolute priority—as we have seen, it’s a key pillar of the Long Term National Health Plan—and has made a record investment of $4.3 billion, as the member for Fisher rightly says in his motion. I commend the Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, on his efforts in this space and for understanding it very directly. We have seen announcements recently, including the Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan, which is a very sound initiative. That has been delivered by this government, as has been funding for mental health research projects as part of the medical research announcements. All of those are layer upon layer of what we are doing in mental health across the various age groups.

What a fantastic initiative the Million Minds Mental Health Research Mission is. It will provide funding over the next 10 years to support an additional million people with mental illness, through new research, diagnosis and treatment. That’s one of the issues that I feel quite strongly about. I’m really pleased to see the $82.5 million in psychological services in residential aged care. I think that is a wonderful initiative by this government. This is additional funding to support older Australians in Australia who are isolated and at risk. I see a number of those people in my electorate.

I will talk briefly about headspace, which caters for 12- to 25-year-olds. So many of the mental health issues that young people experience emerge before the age of 25, and headspace is one of the important services that we are making sure young people have access to. This is really critical in rural and regional areas, where there are fewer services—that’s simply how it is. The provision of this service for 12- to 25-year-olds is so important, because 75 per cent of mental health issues arise before the age of 25—355,000 young people have received services. There are over two million services being provided by headspace. One of those headspace units is in Bunbury in my electorate. Another unit I’ve worked hard on is in Busselton. Young people can access a health worker there, whether it be a GP, a psychologist, a social worker, an alcohol and drug worker, a counsellor, a vocational worker or a youth worker.

I encourage young people in rural, regional and remote areas, who don’t have physical access, to look at e-headspace, which provides confidential support seven days a week between nine o’clock and one o’clock. Those sessions can last from 30 minutes to 60 minutes. That is really important, because not everybody is going to have a physical headspace unit in a location where they need it, but so many of our great young people use the internet, and this could prove to be a very useful support for young people in rural and remote areas. I also recognise the mental health support we have provided to veterans. It has been groundbreaking in this space.

I will also talk briefly about some of the additional pressures that reflect in their mental health status about what is happening online. The member for Fisher knows well that I have worked extensively in this area.

Mr Wallace: Hear, Hear!

I see this on a daily basis for people of all ages and the additional pressure this brings to their lives. Finally, I acknowledge the extraordinary work of the Rural Financial Counselling Service that has saved so many lives in Western Australia.