Lifeline boost indicates positive direction for mental health funding

Amanda Lyons

7/05/2018 1:17:40 PM

The Federal Government has allocated $33.8 million in additional funding to phone counselling and suicide-prevention service Lifeline as part of its commitment to supporting mental health in Australia.

Lifeline hopes the increased funding will allow it to answer a greater number of received calls.
Lifeline hopes the increased funding will allow it to answer a greater number of received calls.

Lifeline operates 24 hours, seven days a week and currently receives the largest call volume of any crisis support service in the country, averaging at a call every 30 seconds and an overall estimate of 920,000 calls to be received this year. It will receive the increased federal funding over the next four years.
According to Lifeline Chairman John Brogden, the boost in federal funding will make a significant difference to operations at the service, as well as to the people on the other end of the line, and will help to save lives.
‘Right now, we don’t have the resources to answer every call immediately, which is particularly heartbreaking when you consider the enormous strength and courage it takes for someone to reach out when they’re struggling,’ Mr Brogden said.
‘Over the coming years we will evolve through new technologies and ways of connecting to meet the needs of those most at risk in a highly responsive way.
‘By improving and modernising the way that we manage the roughly one million contacts received each year, we have an opportunity to support people more quickly and, ultimately, save more lives.’
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has highlighted the increased funding as part of the Government’s commitment to making mental health a national priority.
‘We are making significant investments in early intervention services and a range of national programs to support Australians in need,’ he said. ‘Our funding provides support to vital research, programs and services to help the almost four million Australians who experience a mental health condition every year.’
The RACGP’s General practice: Health of the nation 2017 report revealed that many GPs consider mental health a growing area of concern for the future, and one of the central healthcare issues that should be prioritised by the Federal Government. RACGP President Bastian Seidel told newsGP the Federal Government’s support of services such as Lifeline is a positive step, but hopes there will also be increased funding available for general practice in tomorrow’s Federal Budget.
‘Lifeline is a good option when GPs are not available. However, funding also needs to be made available for continuity of care by a qualified clinician, rather than only for services that often rely on volunteer support,’ he said.

Federal-Budget lifeline mental-health suicide-prevention

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