Mental health care needs funds

MENTAL Health Association NSW is urging the State Government to direct acute-care mental health funding towards the Coffs Harbour mental health unit.

The mental health branch of the NSW Nurses Association at Coffs Harbour Health Campus last week indicated they would start closing six beds in the 30-bed unit because of unsafe staffing levels, lack of experienced staff and excessive use of overtime.

"It's disappointing to hear that any mental health unit is reducing the amount of support on offer when support services are already lacking across the State of New South Wales, but even more so when it is announced during Mental Health Month which is marked in October," said the CEO of Mental Health Association NSW, Elizabeth Priestley.

"We acknowledge that the Coffs Harbour mental health unit is in a difficult predicament because people living with mental illness require intensive care and we support the concerns expressed by the NSW Nurses Association for the welfare of those nurses working in a severely understaffed mental health unit.

"We know the NSW Government is aware of shortages in mental health acute care; that's why the majority of the mental health funding announced this year is to be directed towards acute-care support.

"We will be appealing to the Mental Health Minister to hasten the distribution of this critical funding while developing a corresponding strategy to address the problems with recruiting and retaining the nurses and other health professionals responsible for providing acute care."

Mental Health Association NSW provides free advice and information for people seeking help with anxiety and depression at www.mentalhealth.asn.org or on 1300 794 992.

Crisis counselling is available through the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.



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