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Making mental health a national priority

Tackling problems early reduces the impact of mental illness on individuals, their families and the community.

Mental illness is a major community concern

Mental illness affects nearly every Australian in some way. It is the leading cause of disability and around one-third of Australians will experience a mental illness at some stage in their lives.

The mental health care system can be crisis-driven, with many people only receiving help when they are at their most vulnerable, instead of help to stay well. There are many effective services, but they are often not well integrated, funded, or targeted. This makes it difficult for people with mental illness and their families to navigate the system and to access services based around their individual care needs.

Not enough is being done to prevent mental illness, or to detect it early, so that treatment can be provided to prevent social isolation, disadvantages such as homelessness and unemployment, and tragedy such as suicide. This is particularly important for Australia's young people — our kids and teenagers — and those most vulnerable in our community.

Prioritising mental health

The Prime Minister has declared mental health to be a national priority, appointed this country's first federal Mental Health Minister and brought together experts to tackle the problem. The Government has backed this with substantial investment in health system reform, together with targeted mental health funding in the 2010‑11 Budget, and its election commitment to tackle suicide.

These actions have been about recognising the need for more investment, reform, and a longer‑term plan to guide further reform of the mental health system.

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