Mental health report card welcomed, but rural issued ignored

ALTHOUGH the first Mental Health Report Card has been praised and welcomed by the Western NSW Local Health District, there is some regret that rural issues in NSW weren't addressed.

The report; A Contributing Life: The 2012 Report Card on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, was launched on Tuesday by the National Mental Health Commission (NRMC).

It recommended reducing the early death of Australians with severe mental illness and improving their physical health; increasing access to home-based visits to support families and children; providing local interventions to prevent suicide; and minimising the use of seclusion and restraint.

Director of mental health at the Western NSW Local Health District, Dr Russell Roberts welcomed the report but said it was with regret the mental health issues of rural NSW and Australia wasn't addressed.

"There wasn't more direct discussion about the issues in the rural and remote parts of Australia," he said.

"Mental health is a priority for all governments, not just public mental health services. It is everyone's responsibility and governments should continue to improve mental health in our nation."

He said those with mental illnesses in more remote areas "didn't have adequate health care" but was glad that physical health care, housing and a good and calm working environment were the three key areas discussed.

"Despite this, it is the NMHC's first report card and so far it shows they're listening. They've touched the surface and seemed to focus on the more metropolitan areas.

"I hope they address the inequity and inbalance between rural and metropolitan Australia in the next report."

NSW Mental Health Minister Kevin Humphries said it was pleasing to see the report card centred on the government's three key areas for mental health reform - accommodation, employment and health.

"During the process of establishing the NMHC, I urged the federal government to focus on these key areas in order to best support the more than 3,000,000 Australians whose lives are touched by mental illness each year," he said.

"The report card correctly states that for true reform to occur, there needs to be less focus on announcements and more focus on delivery ... a greater investment in mental health is (also) needed, as is an improved partnership with the states to ensure that services are delivered into areas of greatest need."

The report card is available at mentalhealthcommission.gov.au/our-report-card.aspx.

anthony.cini@ruralpress.com

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