IMPACT Community Services, a leading advocate for better mental health support, is urging government officials and policymakers to prioritise non-clinical mental health services as a vital component of the mental health framework.
The not-for-profit organisation, which operates across the Bundaberg, Wide Bay, Discovery Coast and Burnett regions, is highlighting the pressing need to address the current staff shortage and underfunding of non-clinical support, which is leaving many without the necessary assistance.
According to recent reports, individuals in mental health crises endure waits of up to 12 hours in emergency department waiting rooms. Many are then turned away due to bed shortages, leaving them without the crucial support they desperately require, when they need it most. Furthermore, extensive waiting lists for external mental health services exacerbate the problem, with dedicated specialists unable to accommodate everyone in need of critical assistance.
During the 2021-22 period, over 61,500 people in Queensland and more than 280,000 people across Australia presented to public hospital emergency departments with mental health issues, figures released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare show.
IMPACT Community Services Managing Director Tanya O’Shea said these alarming statistics served as a wake-up call to address the pressing mental health crisis.
Mrs O’Shea said non-clinical support services, such as community-based programs and peer support groups, were integral to improving the mental health system.
She said non-clinical support offered greater accessibility, cost-effectiveness, and a holistic approach to mental well-being. By complementing clinical treatment, these services provided early intervention and much-needed hope to those in desperate need of support.
In an effort to effect change, Mrs O’Shea said IMPACT was advocating for increased funding opportunities that empowered non-clinical support services. By expanding resources for non-clinical mental health workers, including Mental Health Peer Support Workers, individuals can receive the critical assistance required to begin their journey towards recovery.
"We cannot afford to neglect the importance of non-clinical mental health support,” Mrs O’Shea said.
“It is essential that we prioritise the development and implementation of these services to bridge the gap in our mental health system and ensure that vulnerable people receive the comprehensive support they deserve."
IMPACT Community Services has written to local and national stakeholders, including elected officials and key government decision-makers, encouraging them to join their advocacy efforts. Together, they aim to fight for a mental health system that truly supports everyone, leaving no one behind.