A Coalition government will match Labor’s commitment to build 10 new Headspace centres across Australia to help young people with mental health issues.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced on Thursday that if re-elected Labor would invest $34 million to open another 10 Headspace centres across Australia, bringing their total to 100.
Releasing the Coalition’s mental health policy on Friday, opposition leader Tony Abbott on Friday matched the Headspace commitment and promised $18 million to establish a national centre for youth mental health.
The centre at Orygen Youth Health, where former Australian of the Year Pat McGorry is director, would perform clinical trials to find new treatments for young people experiencing mental illness.
The Coalition’s other key announcement was $5 million for a new “e-mental health platform” to provide online mental health services for young people and help support face-to-face services.
The Labor Party’s mental health policy included $9 million for Lifeline to help more people in crisis and $4 million over three years to trial a program to help employers and employees negotiate a return to work.
Both the Coalition and Labor vowed to review mental services, with the Coalition’s review to be conducted by the National Mental Health Commission and Labor’s by the Productivity Commission.
Mr Abbott said the Coalition would not cut health spending and the review of was “to make sure we are spending our money wisely on the most effective programs”.
He said that while big improvements had been made in mental health, “as in all things, this is a work in progress”.
“In any one year some 25 per cent of youngsters aged under 25 will experience a mental health issue,” Mr Abbott said.
“I regret to say that the principle cause of death of people under 25 is now suicide.
“Seventy-five per cent of mental health issues become apparent before the age of 25, and mental health accounts for some 60 to 70 per cent of the disease burden for people under 25.”
As first appeared in The Age, 30 August 2013.
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