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National Mental Health Commission Update
1 June 2020

Message from the CEO

As we mark Reconciliation Week, the theme ‘In This Together’ has even more meaning in light of Australia's bushfires, floods and COVID-19. It is a reminder for organisations, communities and individuals to continue to work together and support each other to build a strong foundation for the future - something we know the mental health sector has been tenaciously working on over recent months. If you, or anyone you know, need emotional and social wellbeing support this week, Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia has resources developed by and created for Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander Peoples.

It has been a challenging year for Australians, but it has been heartening to see so many people reaching out and supporting one another. As we begin to adapt to easing restrictions, it is important to remember that returning to normal routines will mean something unique to each of us and everyone will move at a different pace. Change and transition can be difficult, but please know support is available, with several services expanding during recent months and new ones being developed, including the Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service.

Last month we welcomed the appointment of Dr Ruth Vine as Australia's first Deputy Chief Medical Officer for mental health. I look forward to working with Dr Vine to strengthen the coordinated medical and mental health response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and to support the delivery of mental health system reforms for all Australians.

It has also been encouraging to see significant funding contributions across mental health and suicide prevention research, bushfire recovery and COVID-19 support during this past month; particularly the $48.1 million announced to support the immediate priorities identified in the National Mental Health and Wellbeing Pandemic Response Plan.

Most recently we saw the commitment to provide mental health first aid training for all medical students to ensure they can recognise and respond to the psychological impacts associated with COVID-19, as well as an additional $20 million for mental health and suicide prevention research, $6 million to expand support for older Australians during COVID-19 and $19.5 million to deliver recommendations made in the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System interim report.

This funding, the appointment of Dr Vine and the development of the Pandemic Response Plan recognises the need to accelerate reforms to our national mental health system across all jurisdictions.

Let's keep connecting, collaborating and looking out for each other as we navigate these changes.

Christine Morgan


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National Mental Health and Wellbeing Pandemic Response Plan

The Commission welcomed the National Cabinet’s commitment to support and respond to the National Mental Health and Wellbeing Pandemic Response Plan last month, including the additional $48.1 million investment from the Australian Government to support the priority actions identified in the Plan, including outreach, connectivity, and data and modelling. 

The Commission would like to thank states and territories and mental health leaders who guided the development of the Pandemic Plan to support the immediate and long-term mental wellbeing needs of Australians.

  Read the Plan  

New grant round: Mental health and suicide prevention research for COVID-19

Minister Hunt announced an additional $20 million for mental health and suicide prevention research last week, including $10.3 million for three research projects focusing on prevention of suicide in boys and men, suicide prevention in early fatherhood, and exploring the internet as the first point of contact for seeking help.

Also included, is $3 million for a new grant round under the $125 million MRFF Million Minds Mission, for rapid research to improve the national mental health system response to the impacts of COVID-19. Applications for this grant round opened today. Find out more and apply here.

  Read the release  

First Deputy Chief Medical Officer for Mental Health announced

Leading Australian psychiatrist Dr Ruth Vine, has been appointed as Australia's first Deputy Chief Medical Officer for Mental Health. Dr Vine is a consultant psychiatrist with more than 25 years’ experience in community and hospital based mental health services, community based aged persons’ mental health services, mental health short stay in Emergency Departments, homeless people with mental illness, and working with police about mental health.

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$650 million boost for bushfire recovery

The Australian Government announced an additional $650 million funding to support locally-led bushfire recovery. This package will support the delivery of local recovery plans and projects, help boost community wellbeing, assist forestry industries, strengthen telecommunications capabilities, and nurture native wildlife and habitats back to health. The funding includes $13.5 million for locally-chosen emotional and mental wellbeing supports in bushfire affected communities

  Find out more  

Men's Health Week

Men's Health Week is fast approaching, June 15-21, with this year's theme of 'Working Together for Men's Health' being timely.

Events focused on improving the physical and mental health of every male in Australia are taking place throughout June, including Men's Health Connected, a free month-long summit of presentations bringing together those committed to improving the health of men and boys across the country.
Week One includes discussions around suicide prevention, mentally healthy workplaces in rural and remote communities and the impacts of COVID-19 on men's mental health.

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