National Mental Health Commission report card
Lin Hatfield Dodds, National Director of UnitingCare Australia, said November 27 that a new national report card on how Australians living with mental illness are faring will set a benchmark to help gauge progress.
Speaking shortly after the release of the first national report card of the National Mental Health Commission, Ms Hatfield Dodds said that early intervention and the right support makes a big difference to the lives of people living with mental illness.
“Early intervention significantly improves a person’s chances of completing school, engaging in tertiary education, entering meaningful, long-term employment and finding a stable home. It also helps family and friends to maintain their relationships and their support roles.
“Too many people living with a longer term mental illness struggle because services and supports are not funded in a way that allows people to step up to extra help when they are very unwell and step back when they are ready for more independence.
“Mental illness is often episodic and services have to be given the flexibility to respond to changing needs. Too many people do not get access to the care and supports they need when they need them. So people stay unwell for longer and miss out on chances to reach their goals.
“Eighty per cent of people living with mental illness are unemployed. The drop-out rate from education is too high. Up to 70 per cent of homeless people are living with mental illness. And the invisible barriers of discrimination and stigma are still a reality for many people.
“UnitingCare agencies provide services and support to over 2 million Australians every year, many of whom are living with mental health issues. They don’t get their needs met well in mainstream education, employment, rehabilitation and aged care systems and they have slipped through the health and housing safety nets.
“The National Mental Health Report Card is a timely call for us to make a national commitment together to Australians living with mental illness, to promoting inclusion, respecting rights, delivering better quality services and ensuring support is there when its needed and for long enough to make a positive difference.”
Ms Hatfield Dodds said, “A contributing life for every Australian is worth striving for.”
The UnitingCare network provides social services to over 2 million people each year in 1,300 sites in remote, rural and metropolitan Australia. UnitingCare employs 35,000 staff and 24,000 volunteers.