The data is in; now we need action on mental health

28 June 2022


Mental health conditions are the most common long-term health concern in Australia and the ACT. Yet funding for community-managed mental health services continues to be insufficient and fragmented. It is past time for governments at all levels to act on the wealth of data and studies, and immediately reform and appropriately fund the mental health sector.


For the first time, the 2021 Census asked Australians about diagnosed long-term health conditions, and 10 per cent of Canberrans declared a long-term mental health condition.


“Long-term mental health conditions are more common than asthma or arthritis,” said Ms Bec Cody, CEO of the Mental Health Community Coalition ACT.


The ACT had higher rates of long-term mental health conditions than the Australian average of 8.8 per cent, and the second-highest rate of any state or territory.


“That’s over 45,000 Canberrans and more than 2.2 million Australians living with long-term mental health conditions,” Ms Cody said. “Yet too few are getting the help they deserve.”


In 2020, the Productivity Commission report on mental health stated: “As a priority: Governments should ensure that all people who have psychosocial needs arising from mental illness receive adequate psychosocial support.”


“Many people don’t have access to these services, and there has been no real action on ensuring they do,” Ms Cody said.


“There was no commitment from the former Federal Government in the last Budget to continue essential funding to psychosocial support programs after June 2023, and the new Federal Government has not yet given any indication of continuing this essential funding.”


“The chronic underfunding of the sector by the Federal and ACT governments is severely impacting the services that community-managed mental health services can offer. I hope this Census data demonstrates why investing in mental health is essential to the community, both in the ACT and across Australia.”

Media contact: Angel Hellyer, Communications and Events Manager, 0493 388 756 | Angel.Hellyer@mhccact.org.au

MHCC ACT is the peak body for community mental health services in the ACT. Find out more about MHCC ACT at www.mhccact.org.au.