Shadow minister for Mental Health Sean L’Estrange has taken aim at Labor’s mental health funding cuts as demand for alcohol and other drug services in the rapidly growing Capes region soars.
“The Government needs to step up and improve its funding and resourcing of services to support people in the South West with mental health illness and/or with alcohol and other drug addiction,” Mr L’Estrange said.
“In the 2018 Budget, the McGowan Labor Government reneged on its pledge to build a $16 million specialist drug rehabilitation centre for the South West. This was at a time when 5.5 per cent of patients presented to an emergency department with mental health needs.”
The comments come as the State Government released a draft for the West Australian mental health plan for public feedback until April 9 on the Mental Health Commission website.
Despite his concerns, Mental Health Minister Roger Cook said the Government was spending more on mental health than ever before.
“We are committed to supporting people struggling with addiction, which is why we have recently opened 19 new residential rehabilitation beds for the South West, with a further 14 rehabilitation beds due to open this year,” he said.
In April, the Times reported Busselton Health Campus had missed out on funding for a psychiatric liaison nurse at a time when the suicide rate had increased by 10 per cent. Mental Health Commissioner Timothy Marney said all services were encouraged to meet the needs of people with mental health and alcohol and other drug problems.
“One of our key priorities for system-wide reform is to further progress integration of mental health and alcohol and other drug services,” he said.
According to the Mental Health Commission, two-fifths of South West residents treated for alcohol and other drugs in 2017-18 were treated for methylamphetamine.
For anyone concerned about their own or another person’s alcohol or drug use, call the alcohol and drug support line on 1800 198 024.