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Mental health: one in five people ignored by Government.

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DEMOCRATS MEDIA 04/939 TUESDAY 21 SEPTEMBER 2004 SENATOR LYN ALLISON JESS HEALY AUSTRALIAN DEMOCRATS HEALTH SPOKESPERSON DEMOCRATS LEAD SENATE CANDIDATE MENTAL HEALTH - ONE IN FIVE PEOPLE IGNORED BY GOVERNMENT About one in five people in Australia are affected by a mental health problem, yet governments of all levels have consistently neglected the needs of both people with mental illness, and their families. The Australian Democrats today launched a Mental Health strategy to not only improve services for the people directly affected, but also to address the social and economic implications of mental illness. Launching the policy in Melbourne today, Senator Lyn Allison, Democrats health spokesperson said people with mental illnesses remain among the most disadvantaged, neglected and marginalised in Australia. "Mental illness is responsible for about 13% of Australia's disease burden but receives only about 7% of health funding - half as much spent in other comparable OECD countries," Senator Allison said. "Australia is lagging behind many other countries in adopting prevention and early intervention services, which could not only halt disabling illness but save billions of dollars in welfare costs and lost earnings. "The Democrats have worked hard in the Senate to ensure the rights of people with mental illness are not ignored by the Government, but more action is desperately needed." Jess Healy, Democrats Lead Senate candidate said young people also have significant mental health issues that are being ignored by governments. "Between 14% and 20% of children and young people have been estimated to experience mental health difficulties, including anxiety, attention deficit disorder and depression." The Democrats call for: • Adequate funding for the National Mental Health Strategy and increased funding for mental health treatment; • Greater emphasis on prevention and early intervention programmes; • Community education resources to destigmatise mental illness and highlight warning signs; • Expansion of mental health training of law enforcement and primary health care professionals; • Improved community based supported accommodation for people with a mental illness; and • Support for carers and families including increasing respite care allowances. Media Contact - Katrina McGrath - 0408 056 167