New Productivity Commission Inquiry to shine a light on mental health

| October 11, 2018

The Morrison Government will establish a Productivity Commission Inquiry into the role of mental health in the Australian economy and the best ways to support and improve national mental wellbeing.

Mental health challenges not only have a devastating personal impact, but significantly affect individuals’ employment and productivity. This has an effect on incomes, living standards, physical wellbeing, and social connectedness.

Mental health also affects businesses, the hospital system, and social services, and therefore has a large effect on Australia’s economy.

This comprehensive inquiry will reveal the true impact of mental illness on the economy, and provide recommendations on how the Government can most effectively improve population mental health, and social and economic participation.

The Federal Government will spend an estimated $4.7 billion this year on mental health. Once state and territory government funding is added to this, the investment in mental health rises to around $9 billion per year – that is equivalent to $1 million per hour – every hour of every day.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said: “It is crucial that we know that this funding is delivering the best possible outcomes for individuals and their families, and that is one of the issues the inquiry will investigate.”

Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, said he has worked closely with the Prime Minister and Treasurer to finalise the terms of reference and establish the inquiry.

“Every year around four million Australians deal with some form of chronic or episodic mental health condition. Sadly, one in five Australians affected by mental illness do not seek help because of stigma,” Minister Hunt said.

“I have consulted with state and territory health and mental health ministers to seek their views on the scope and terms of reference of the inquiry and have welcomed their support.

“As we enter Mental Health Week it is important that we continue to shine a light on mental health and work hard to ensure we are providing the best possible support to Australians living with mental illness.”

The Productivity Commission will undertake broad consultation, including holding hearings in regional Australia and inviting public submissions. It will then make recommendations on measures to improve population mental health to help people lead full and productive lives.

The inquiry is due to begin later this month and the final report should be provided to the Government within 18 months.

The Morrison Government has made mental health a key pillar of its Long Term Health Plan.  This commitment is also reflected in an extra $338.1 million investment in suicide prevention, research, and programs for older Australians in this year’s Budget.

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