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Mental health experts disagree on future of c -

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Former Australian of the Year Professor Patrick McGorry has been criticised for focusing too
narrowly on some mental health care models over others.

Transcript

TONY JONES, PRESENTER: When COAG meets tomorrow the former Australian of the year Professor Patrick
McGorry will tell the Prime Minister and state premiers what he thinks should be done for mental
health in Australia.

In May, after warnings Australia was dangerously under-investing in the sector and pressure from
the Opposition, the Federal Government boosted funding by $1.5 billion over five years on top of
$600 million announced last year.

But Professor McGorry's position is not without its critics.

Hamish Fitzsimmons reports from Melbourne.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS, REPORTER: When Professor Patrick McGorry was made Australian of the Year in
2010, it was clear he'd been putting mental health funding on the political agenda.

PATRICK MCGORRY, ORYGEN YOUTH HEALTH (2010): People's lives are at risk. There's a whole generation
of young people who are still being locked out of mental health care because of the
under-investment in that area of reform.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: When there was a boost for mental health funding in the May Budget, many put it
down to the tenacity of people like Professor McGorry and John Mendoza, the former chairman of the
National Advisory Council on Mental Health.

But Professor Mendoza says the so-called boost has been massively overstated.

JOHN MENDOZA, UNI. OF THE SUNSHINE COAST: The size of the investment from the Commonwealth
Government in the May Budget is very modest. The new money that's contained in the $2.2 billion
actually is only just over $100 million per year. So the bulk of the money is actually redirected.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: He says the sector remains in a state of crisis and areas that most need
funding, early intervention and youth services, continue to struggle.

JOHN MENDOZA: All these services say they are overwhelmed with demand, unable to actually operate
as intended.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: And there are criticisms of how funding is actually being directed.

Professor Jon Jureidini from the University of Adelaide says there's been too much emphasis on the
areas championed by Professor McGorry, such as Headspace and early psychosis prevention and
intervention centres, known as EPPIC.

JON JUREIDINI, UNI. OF ADELAIDE: Unfortunately I think that his enthusiasm for what he's doing
sometimes gets in front of the evidence, and what concerns me is that we're over-investing in one
particular approach that is credible, but doesn't have a strong evidence base.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: John Mendoza disagrees.

JOHN MENDOZA: It's in that age up to 25, we've had no service system, and so investment in
Headspace services, which is effectively the joined-up primary care service and the early psychosis
services has been, if you like, the most important investment that we could make at this time,
given the other priorities we've got across the system.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: One of the key issues being debated in the area of the young and mental illness
currently is the high proportion of intervention and the wisdom of using medications on young
people that have potentially harmful side effects.

JON JUREIDINI: Professor McGorry's saying that he has no interest in medicating young people who
haven't yet become psychotic, but research continues in this area and it's not at all clear that
EPPIC isn't going to take on people before they become psychotic. And I think we really need some
clarification about that because many of us have concerns about the dangers of instituting
conventional psychiatric treatment too early.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: Professor Jureidini is also critical of the way professors McGorry and Mendoza
have used statistics to support arguments for funding some areas over others.

JON JUREIDINI: I think they've been very loose in their use of statistics, and when many people
have challenged them over this and their response has unfortunately been often to attack the person
who's made the criticism rather than addressing the scientific issue at hand.

JOHN MENDOZA: I reject entirely that we've championed any one part. We have consistently said that
the spectrum of mental health services needs to be increased in funding.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: Former Mental Health Council chief David Crosby says the criticisms of people
like John Mendoza and Pat McGorry reflect in-fighting from a sector suffering from years of
underfunding.

DAVID CROSBY, FMR MENTAL HEALTH COUNCIL CEO: Many people in the mental health sector are really
struggling. They're trying to make do with inadequate resources, and when they see someone else in
the mental health sector actually get some resources, it becomes kind of an envy and a kind of,
"That should be our resources."

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: At the COAG meeting, Pat McGorry will spell out his vision for an overhaul of
mental health care in Australia.

Hamish Fitzsimmons, Lateline.