Mental health groups have welcomed the federal government’s announcement for a Productivity Commission Inquiry into mental health.
The Inquiry will specifically investigate the role of mental health in the Australian economy and the best ways to support and improve national mental wellbeing.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg made the announcement during Mental Health Week.
The government is looking to reveal the true impact of mental illness on the economy. Total investment in mental health is around $9 billion per year.
“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,” the Treasurer said.
Mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety, affect four million Australians every year. Mental health is estimated to cost the economy $60 billion a year.
Beyond Blue CEO Georgie Harman said despite numerous investigations and reviews into mental health in Australia, it was the first time the Productivity Commission had taken the lead.
“This announcement reflects what the mental health sector has been calling for; that the impacts of mental health be recognised as a fundamental and core part of government’s economic and productivity agenda.
“People are more likely to stay in their jobs, be productive and engaged at work and less likely to take time off work if they are mentally healthy. The flow on macroeconomic and social impacts can be profound.”
Latest Australian Bureau of Statistics data showed 3,128 people took their own lives in 2017 – a 10-year high in the suicide rate and an increase of 9.1% over the previous year.
Mental Health Australia CEO Frank Quinlan said previous inquiries and reports into mental health had failed to provide durable solutions to current problems.
“I don’t think anyone looking at the most recent statistics on suicide can be satisfied with more of the same.”
A Mental Health Australia report released earlier this year found that investment in workplace initiatives could save the nation more than $4.5 billion in lost productivity.
Federal Labor welcomed the Inquiry but said the government should not delay on urgently needed mental health reform. This included adoption of the National Mental Health Commission’s target to reduce suicide by half over 10 years.
The Productivity Commission has been charged to undertake broad consultation, including hearings to be held in regional Australia. The inquiry is expected to start later this month with a final report due in 18 months.
If you are experiencing mental health issues or suicidal feelings contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or BeyondBlue 1300 224 636.