We have to get our heads around mental health.

“People have qualities beyond the diagnosis of a mental health issue. People are members of the community. They’re the neighbour that gives you a wave as you’re driving out the gate or walking by. You know, they’re like anyone else.”

– Carer

When people facing mental ill-health receive the support they need in the community they are able to manage their day to day activities and build a meaningful life.
Unfortunately a lot of South Australians do not know what these services are or that they even exist. They are community based mental health services delivered by NGOs called psychosocial services.
These services support people in a range of ways from helping them navigate employment or financial support, housing, relationships or just connecting with activities or education.
Investing in community based mental health services means we not only provide the support people want, it also keeps those experiencing a mental health crisis out of hospital.
Sadly, too many South Australians living with mental ill-health are entering our hospital system too often – especially for short-term, repeat admissions – and there are not enough services available to support them to stay well and reduce their reliance on acute hospital-based services.
“I went to an NGO and I met people who really understood what I was experiencing, and I can’t talk highly enough about the impact that had. I still needed medication. I still needed clinical help. But, I had people who I could identify with.”

– Person with lived experience

What we know.

The Mental Health Coalition of South Australia commissioned Price Waterhouse Cooper to review the evidence for investing in community based mental health supports.

Read our full report, or watch a video briefing about our report featuring MHCSA President Kim Holmes and Executive Director Geoff Harris.
Full Report PDF
Watch Video

What we found was:

For patients discharged from hospital, 15% of people are readmitted within 28 days of being discharged.
The current average costs to provide care in the hospital setting in South Australia are higher than the national average. Across Australia, the average cost per inpatient bed day in a psychiatric hospital (non-acute wards) was $953.78,compared with a cost per day of $1,554.25 for South Australia.
By 2018-19 just 6.4% of the SA mental health budget was allocated to community services provided by NGOs – a 30% reduction in real terms from 2014-5.
South Australians with mental illness currently spend more time in emergency departments and other hospital-based services than they would need to if there was adequate access to psychosocial supports that support them to stay well in their homes and needing less support from our hospital system.
About 30% of mental health hospital inpatients could potentially be discharged if appropriate clinical and accommodation services were available in the community.

What needs to be done?

South Australia needs significant investment in community based support so we can close the gaps in our system. Our current mental health system works in isolation and does not meet the needs of people experiencing mental ill-health or a crisis.

We have the answer to this: it is SA Health’s Mental Health Services Plan. We want it implemented in full to fill in the gaps and reach the unmet demand in our community.

We have four key asks for South Australia’s Mental Health system:

  1. A strategy to reduce the gap in community based mental health supports by 50% within 3 years;
  2. To eliminate avoidable Emergency Department presentations;
  3. To prioritise access to suitable, sustainable housing to recover and remain well;
  4. To embed people’s lived experience in system design, delivery and ongoing governance.
Read About Our Asks
Watch ABC News Story

How can you get involved?

We have delivered our report and State Budget Submission to every Member of the South Australian parliament. You can help us by asking your local Member about their response to it.

Here’s a guide to finding your local Member of Parliament:

  1. To find your local Member of Parliament enter your address or postcode into the interactive map here.
  2. Once you know your Electoral District, you can then look up the member on this list here under the column District Party.
  3. You can also contact Members of the Legislative Council who represent all South Australians. Find their details here.

You can make a meeting with your local Member or raise our submission with them when they knock on your door or appear in your local area.

Here are some tips and talking points to help you with that conversation:
Writing them a letter or email is also a great way to make contact with them. You can download our letter template here.
If you want to follow up with a meeting, call their office to make an appointment and make sure they know that you live in their electorate. They may ask for your address to confirm this.
We also have this summary document about the report we developed. You can download and use it as a basis for your talking points in your meeting to help explain why investing in community mental health support is important. Using our document means you don’t have to cover everything and can explain in your own way.
As an outcome, ask your local Member or Member of Legislative Council what they intend to do as a result of your meeting or discussion to improve our mental health system in SA.
You could suggest that they write to the Premier and the Leader of the Opposition highlighting the evidence in our report and urging bi-Partisan support to implement its key Asks, starting with the next State Budget.
If they want to find out more, encourage them to make contact with the MHCSA to discuss the information in the report.
Sharing your own experiences with the mental health system – both positive and negative – is a great way to help your local Member understand the importance of this.
If you are planning to share intense personal experiences, make sure you take care of yourself. In particular, detailing any trauma can be upsetting for yourself and the person you are sharing it with.
Please send us an email after your meeting, telling us who you met with, what action(s) they agreed to and if there are any issues or questions that we need to follow up.

People with lived experience who participated in our focus groups noted that trauma is a significant feature of our mental health system along with crisis:

“I think that it’s no secret that the system, especially the Government mental health system, is a traumatized system and that goes for the people who use the services, as well as the people who are working within Government mental health. And I think that is not only crisis driven, but it’s in crisis. And when you have people who are working in the mental health system who are constantly in crisis, constantly under pressure and stress, you’re not going to get the best outcomes for the people using the system.”

– Consumer

Join our social media campaign.

This campaign aims to challenge community perceptions of people living with mental ill-health.

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