Mental health patients facing cuts to crucial services amid funding uncertainty: experts

Published on ABC Radio Australia, Updated 24 March 2015, 10:50 AEDT by medical reporter Sophie Scott

Thousands of Australians seeking help for mental health problems face growing uncertainty because ongoing federal funding for hundreds of contracts has not been guaranteed after June 30.

Seventy mental health groups, including Mental Health Australia, Headspace, and the Black Dog Institute have written an open letter to Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Health Minister Sussan Ley.

The letter reads: "We have not received any definitive advice regarding the future of programs."

"Some agencies have indicated that without this advice, they will have to give staff notice of termination of employment in a matter of days.

"This ongoing uncertainty is causing a huge disruption to organisations and increasingly, deep anxiety amongst the people they serve."

The National Mental Health Commission has completed a major review of the mental health sector, which is currently with Ms Ley but no date has been set for its release.

One provider, the MindSpot Clinic, already told patients free online and telephone support may not be available after April 15 due to funding uncertainty.

MindSpot is a free service for Australian adults with stress, worry, anxiety, low mood or depression.

MindSpot director Professor Nick Titov said the uncertainty is concerning for both staff and patients.

The service has helped 30,000 people and is seeing 300 to 400 new people each week, half of them from rural and regional areas where there are no face-to-face mental health services.

For the full article click here.

To read the Open Letter to Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Health Minister Sussan Ley click here.

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