Politics — 27 June 2016

Australians struggling with mental health difficulties will find more ways to get help under a re-elected coalition government.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Sunday announced his government would spend $192 million on mental health services, particularly on suicide prevention.

It plans to develop a national suicide prevention strategy to co-ordinate services and build on what is working well, instead of continuing the existing fragmented approach.

Mr Turnbull said he was passionate about addressing the challenges of mental health and suicide.

‘As a society we need to be alert to mental illness and remove the taboo on discussing it, which is why we are talking more often and openly about mental health issues,’ he said.

‘We have to learn to recognise depression in family, friends and workmates and reach out to them – before it is too late.’

An extra eight suicide prevention trial sites will be set up, bringing the total number to 12, and funding will go to 10 primary health networks specialising in mental health.

A $12 million suicide prevention research fund will evaluate regional suicide prevention models and provide a best practice hub of resources.

Youth services including headspace centres and six early psychosis units will be guaranteed funding.

Labor wants to halve the number of suicides over the next decade.

Its plan includes a $9 million national suicide prevention fund, 12 regional suicide prevention pilot projects, and restoring funding to headspace and early psychosis centres.

This article first appeared on ‘Sky News’ on 26 June 2016.

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