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Mental health sector headed for breakdown.

Mental health continues to bear the double blow of low funding and high demand.

Recent budget cuts of $230 million to the sector have alarmed mental health experts and belie the increasing demand on services highlighted in a new report.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report, released last month, shows mental health is now the fourth most common reason for visiting GPs and accounts for nearly three million hospital bed days a year.

The social and economic burden from mental health problems is surpassed only by cancer and heart disease.

According to Sebastian Rosenberg, deputy chief executive of the Mental Health Council of Australia, the discrepancy between the burden of disease and its level of funding makes it the poor cousin of the health service generally.

'The gap between the two figures, I believe, goes a long way to explaining the problems facing mental health in Australia,' he told the media.

The Federal Budget had already cut $188 million from the mental health nurse initiative program, but further cuts of $56 million over four years have been revealed in a belated government breakdown of the programs to be targeted.

The extra cuts include almost $30 million in unspent funds from the training component of a scheme designed to increase access to mental health services and a further $15.5 million from mental health services in rural and remote areas.
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Publication:The Lamp
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Aug 1, 2008
Words:231
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