Mental Health Will Be Key Health Focus in Australian Budget: Minister

Mental Health Will Be Key Health Focus in Australian Budget: Minister
Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt at a press conference in the Main Committee Room at Parliament House in Canberra on April 8, 2020. (Sam Mooy/Getty Images)

Support for mental health will be one of the key planks of the federal budget in just over a week’s time, Health Minister Greg Hunt says.

Hunt says mental health is one of the four pillars of Australia’s long-term national health plan.

The other areas are primary care with a strong focus on access to new medicines and better treatments to aid doctors, the support for hospitals and private health insurance, and medical research.

He said there will be focus on youth suicide.

“Despite all the expectations because of what we were able to do in tailored support for mental health we had a reduction in suicide in Australia of five per cent in 2020—we are still waiting the final figures for 2021,” Hunt told Sky News’ Sunday Agenda program.

“We want to see it go lower, we want to see it head towards zero.”

Details on the mental health support will be released in the March 29 budget.

However, the Morrison government will spend more than $315 million over four years to extend its national ice action strategy in the ongoing fight to reduce the impact of ice, other drugs and alcohol.

This investment comes alongside an additional $27.9 million being committed to support other critical drug and alcohol treatment projects in areas of identified need.

“For too many Australians, illegal drugs are still an insidious scourge on our community, robbing families of their loved ones,” Hunt said.

“The Morrison Government is committed to building safe and healthy communities, reducing the impacts and harms of drug and alcohol use for individuals, their families and their communities.”

National wastewater drug monitoring shows methamphetamine use has reduced for the second consecutive year.

Even so, Hunt said while this was a good sign, there is still work to be done.

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