Coalition commits $18 million to National Centre for Excellence in Youth Mental Health

Coalition leader Tony Abbott meets Professor Patrick McGorry of Orygen Youth Health to announce their commitment of $18M for a National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health

Orygen Youth Health Research Centre is delighted by this commitment from the Coalition of $18 million over four years which would future proof Australia’s investment in youth mental health care. This commitment will be welcomed by the more than one million young Australians and their families affected by mental ill-health every single year, who we want to benefit from our work. Orygen also warmly welcomes the Coalition’s decision to expand the headspace network with ten new centres bringing headspace up to a total of 100 centres nationwide, thus matching Mr.Rudd’s equally welcome commitment of late yesterday. Finally we welcome the investment in a single national platform for internet and social media access for youth mental health to be constructed through the Young and Well CRC.

Professor Patrick McGorry AO, Executive Director of Orygen Youth Health Research Centre commends this commitment:

“The Coalition, who have always been strong supporters of youth mental health as a best buy have recognised the vital role that a National Centre for Excellence in Youth Mental Health would play in discovering and translating new evidence-based treatments, developing and supporting a dynamic new workforce for expanding frontline services like headspace and EPPIC and maximising the value of every precious dollar spent in creating Australia’s growing national youth mental health system."

“The Coalition established headspace in 2005, showing similar confidence in Orygen and the University of Melbourne to implement this successful reform. Crucially however, youth mental health has been a completely bipartisan issue, which the Gillard and Rudd governments have also strongly supported and expanded as a cost effective investment valued highly by the Australian public. In this spirit of bipartisanship we now call on the ALP to match the full range of Coalition commitments announced today.”

Mental health problems are the “chronic diseases of the young” with 75% of mental ill-health occurring before the age of 25. Suicide is the leading cause of death in Australians under 35 and is largely preventable. Mental ill-health in young people also costs the economy $30 billion a year through direct costs and lost productivity. Investing in youth mental health is the best buy in preventive health care and the National Centre for Excellence in Youth Mental Health would improve outcomes for future generations of young Australians by ensuring they are receiving the best care available in the world. Timely youth mental health investments will substantially shrink the numbers of people graduating to middle age with serious mental illness and also moderate the impact of these illnesses.

Orygen Youth Health Research Centre, Australia’s largest and most internationally recognised youth mental health research centre welcomes its leadership role in the proposed National Centre for Excellence in Youth Mental Health, working in partnership with collaborators in other parts of Australia. With innovations such as headspace and EPPIC, Orygen has a proven record of developing stigma-free, effective, evidenced-based treatments for young people with mental health issues. The Orygen model of early intervention, integrating research, clinical service and knowledge transfer has been widely emulated in many countries around the world, including North America, Asia and Europe.

Professor McGorry believes investment in youth mental health is investment in Australia’s future:

“Australia currently leads in the world in youth mental health but to continue this success we need the full support of governments and new investment to safeguard research, innovation and new expertise and skill development. We commend the Coalition for this commitment which would safeguard the future of innovative reform and deliver improved outcomes for young people in Australia.”

Orygen also recognises that there are many other priorities in mental health care and reform. We strongly support investment in evidence-based programs for younger children, and for older adults with serious mental illness. These should include assertive community treatment, housing support and employment programs to ensure that all Australians living with serious mental illness have the best prospects of recovery and a contributing life. We urge all sides of politics to keep mental health reform and investment firmly on the agenda in the next term of government as a national priority.