Record investment in WA’s mental health services


Budget releases record mental health spend. Picture credit: Photo by Dan Meyers on Unsplash

A record $1.3b has been invested in Western Australia’s mental health services, a 13 per cent increase from last year.

The funding has a focus on children and adolescents and sees the expansion of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service frontline workers, additional peer support workers, and suicide prevention programs.

WA Mental Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson said that the funding “will help address mental ill-health where it starts – in the early years of someone’s life – which has the potential to positively impact their trajectory.”

According to The Australian Bureau of Statistics, 381 Western Australian’s died of intentional self-harm in 2020, 58 between the ages of 15 and 24.

This figure represents almost 40 per cent of all deaths in WA for people aged 15-24, making suicide the leading cause of death for young people in the state.

Arthur Papakotsias, CEO of the mental health services organisation Youth Focus, calls the investment “a much-needed, positive step towards better supporting the mental health of young Western Australians”.

“Although a significant investment from the McGowan Government, as a service provide which sits on the front line of the mental health crisis in WA, the mental health issues Youth Focus is presented with daily are simply too much for the current system to handle”.

Youth Focus believes that the “investment is a positive start, but there is still an unmet need for which greater government investment is needed. [The Government] have to address to workforce shortage, as many clinical positions within the health sector remain unfilled”.

Jessica Vati, the coordinator of StreetNet Youth Service in Mandurah shares this sentiment, saying “we need more frontline workers, peer support workers, specialist workers, and the funding needs to be there to support the ongoing changes and challenges in this space”.

“If waitlists are doubling and tripling, the funding needs to align with this. If there continues to be more demand, funding needs to be continuous.”