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Australia losing half a billion dollars daily from mental illness

The Productivity Commission’s finding that mental illness and suicide are now costing Australia $500 million a day means that the nation must revamp how it thinks about and tackles such wellness issues, argues Black Dog Institute.

The draft report of the Productivity Commission’s inquiry into mental health was handed down recently and posited that “a generational shift is needed” in order to ensure that long-term reform is maintainable.

Among the areas for reform identified were: prevention and early intervention for mental illness and suicide attempts, the closing of critical gaps in healthcare services, investment in services beyond mental health, assistance to get into work and enable early treatment of work-related mental illnesses, and “fundamental reform” to care coordination, governance and funding arrangements.

Earlier this week, Wellness Daily reported that both Beyond Blue and SANE Australia have commended its recognition of the need for substantial changes to how such health issues are managed.

Black Dog Institute has also welcomed the Productivity Commission’s draft report, joining the rest of the mental health community in “hoping the report represents a key moment in the journey towards a world-leading mental health system”.

It is anticipated, the institute said in a statement, that such a system will provide individuals and communities across Australia access to the best evidence-based mental health treatment and prevention programs, regardless of age, income, cultural background and location.

“We know that addressing our country’s mental health concerns will come at great costs to government, the mental health sector, and those on the front line in our local communities,” said Black Dog Institute director and chief scientist, Scientia Professor Helen Christensen.

“However, given the Productivity Commission’s finding that mental illness and suicide are now costing Australia $500 million a day, continuing to do the same things is no longer an option.

“We have been looking at innovative ways we can relieve some of this burden through the use of e-mental health apps and digital technologies, which allow us to deliver evidence-based mental health resources and tools at scale, regardless of geographic boundaries.

“Our research is also looking at early intervention and prevention of mental illness in young people through our world-first Future Proofing trial, which aims to use smartphones to deliver prevention interventions at scale.

“Using our vast evidence-based and ongoing research at Black Dog Institute, we look forward to the opportunity to share our findings and insights with the commission, to complement the valuable contributions from the rest of the mental health sector.”

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