THE STATE Government will establish a new integrated drug and alcohol service in Mandurah by the end of 2017, according to the new mental health care plan.
The Western Australian Mental Health, Alcohol and Other Drug Services Plan 2015-2025 lays out the government’s plans for mental health policy over the next decade, including rehauling the mental health service platform in regional and outer metropolitan areas, including the Peel towns of Rockingham and Mandurah.
Rockingham General Hospital will receive 10 extra community-based subacute beds for the treatment of people with drug and alcohol addictions.
Minister for Mental Health Helen Morton said the program would guarantee West Australians had access to high-quality mental health services close to their homes.
“Substantial change has already taken place, but we have much more to achieve,” she said.
“Extensive transformation and significant investment is required to address decades of accumulated poor targeting and under investment.”
The ten-year plan is designed to make WA a forerunner in modern mental health implementation, according to the minister.
Both Mandurah and Joondalup are slated for upgraded drug and alcohol services as part of the project.
Police in regional centres such as Mandurah will also be trained to deal with people with mental health issues as part of the police co-response program, which sees police work with mental health professionals.
Ms Morton said the plan demonstrated the current West Australian mental health system was outdated, and a major overhaul was required to get it back on track.
“This plan is the realisation of the principal recommendation of the 2012 Stokes Review,” she said.
While hospitals such as Rockingham, Midland and Fremantle will receive funding and assistance through the plan, there is little detail on plans for the Peel region.
Member for Mandurah David Templeman said any attempts to further develop mental health services in Peel was a good step forward, but the state government’s plans lacked specificity and achievable goals.
“The government’s plan lacks detail, and it lacks timelines,” he said.
“It’s all well and good announcing a ten-year plan, but if nothing happens by the five-year mark, it’s a waste of time.”
Mr Templeman also said it was “backwards” to announce potential funding models for as-yet non-existent projects when there were mental health programs already in place in Peel which desperately required funding.
“I can’t understand why the state government is announcing this plan, when the Youth Mental Health Program is in desperate need of assistance,” he said.
“Tier one of the program has already been put in place in every high school in Peel, and the responses back are that it needs a lot more support.
“It’s tier two and three that are made to have direct contact with young people who require that assistance, and GP Down South and others are struggling to bring that into schools now.
“If we could utilise $300,000 to $400,000, we could start the program tomorrow.”
Mr Templeman said if Peel mental health services weren’t to be funded through the mental health care plan, it should be supported by Royalties for Regions.
“There’s still an assumption by government that all of these programs can run without any oversight or support,” he said.
“There needs to be support for these programs that are directly in schools, communicating with young people. Making a blanket announcement on mental health does nothing to help them.”
This article first appeared on ‘Mandurah Mail’ on 9 December 2015.