New national mental health inquiry

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The federal government has announced a new Productivity Commission Inquiry into the role of mental health in the Australian economy and the best ways to support and improve national mental wellbeing.

This inquiry is designed to assess and reveal the true impact of mental illness on the economy. It will provide recommendations on how the government can most effectively improve population mental health, and social and economic participation.

The federal, state and territory governments will invest a combined $9 billion in mental health this year.

According to treasurer Josh Frydenberg, “It is crucial that we know that this funding is delivering the best possible outcomes for individuals and their families, and that is one of the issues the inquiry will investigate.”

Health minister Greg Hunt said he has worked closely with the prime minister and treasurer to finalise the terms of reference and establish the inquiry.

“Every year around four million Australians deal with some form of chronic or episodic mental health condition. Sadly, one in five Australians affected by mental illness do not seek help because of stigma,” he said.

“I have consulted with state and territory health and mental health ministers to seek their views on the scope and terms of reference of the inquiry and have welcomed their support. 

“As we enter Mental Health Week it is important that we continue to shine a light on mental health and work hard to ensure we are providing the best possible support to Australians living with mental illness.”

The Productivity Commission will undertake broad consultation, including holding hearings in regional Australia and inviting public submissions. It will then make recommendations on measures to improve population mental health to help people lead full and productive lives.

The inquiry is due to begin later this month and the final report should be provided to the Government within 18 months.