Alzheimer’s Australia welcomes the government’s review of mental health services ensuring a 'no wrong door' approach to people experiencing mental health issues to ensure they get the specialist help they need.
Depressive symptoms are known to occur in approximately 40-50% of people with dementia and comorbidities such as depression and anxiety are common.
“This blueprint for action on mental health is certainly heading in the right direction towards addressing the significant needs of the growing numbers of people with dementia and comorbid mental health issues” Alzheimer’s Australia President, Professor Graeme Samuel AC said.
Among the measures announced today by Minister for Health, The Hon. Sussan Ley MP, were greater flexibility of mental health services and a single national mental health phone number to connect people in need to the appropriate telephone and online support.
“As a Chair of a PHN as well as Chair of Alzheimer’s Australia, I am very aware that directing funding to locally designed responses via Primary Health Networks and directing resources to primary care are important ways in which we can ensure that people with dementia and other mental health conditions can access support when and where they need it” Mr Samuel said.
Among the package of announcements is a focus on greater choice and ensuring people have access to timely diagnosis, early intervention and multi-disciplinary approaches to care. CEO of Alzheimer’s Australia Carol Bennett said that the person-centred approach to mental health is welcome and is a consistent theme in the government’s reforms to aged care in which Consumer Directed Care is a key feature.
“Individualised funding, provided it is rolled out with supports in place for consumers to make informed decisions and recognising that people with mental health conditions and cognitive decline may need unique support to make those choices, gives greater flexibility and control to people over their care. This is a very positive move for consumers.
“We welcome the opportunity for co-design of these responses with consumers coupled with strong accountability and transparency measures to ensure quality for consumers. If that occurs, we can expect a strong and robust mental health system.”
Ms Bennett said the reforms need to adopt a holistic approach to care, recognising and supporting the role of carers and families in improving health outcomes and quality of life for people with dementia and other mental health conditions.
Dementia Australia’s National Dementia Helpline 1800 100 500, which receives approximately 28,000 calls a year, is a crucial link for people living with dementia, their carers and family members to access vital information about dementia, dementia services, education and support. The National Dementia Helpline remains unchanged under these reforms. We look forward to working with the government to continue to provide this support and service for people living with dementia.