More than $55 million will be invested into mental health and suicide prevention support and services across Tasmania over the next five years, following the signing of a landmark bilateral agreement between the Morrison and Tasmanian governments.

The Morrison Government will invest $45.6 million, with the Tasmanian Government providing $9.4 million in-kind to establish new and existing mental health services, particularly for people in the group known as the “missing middle”.

Tasmania is also well-progressed with its investment of $27 million to deliver two mental health Integration Hubs at the Peacock Centre and St John’s Park, which will provide multidisciplinary care for adults. These hubs closely align with the Head to Health model.

The funding includes:

  • $24.7 million to provide mental health care for adults and older adults across the state through the establishment of three new Head to Health satellite clinics (Burnie, Devonport, Outer Hobart), which will align with state-based services, including Tasmania’s Integration Hubs. This includes ongoing funding for the state’s first Head to Health centre in Launceston
  • $4.2 million to establish a new headspace centre (Rosny Park), and $2.9 million to boost the clinical capacity of existing headspace sites in Tasmania (Burnie, Devonport, Hobart, Launceston)
  • $12.6 million to deliver three Head to Health Kids Centres within Tasmania’s Child and Family Learning Centres (CFLCs), which includes recognition of Tasmania’s existing investment in the CFLCs
  • $2.5 million for the Tasmanian Government to establish and deliver three eating disorder day programs in 2022-23
  • $5.2 million for universal aftercare services to support individuals discharged from hospital following a suicide attempt, and
  • $3.0 million to support perinatal mental health screening.

In addition to these initiatives, the Commonwealth and Tasmanian governments will substantially deepen their partnership in the mental health and suicide prevention system, through greater data sharing and evaluation of services, closer integration of referral pathways, and working together on the regional planning and commissioning of services.

The bilateral agreement will also build and support the mental health and suicide prevention workforce, including the peer workforce.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the agreement would ensure Tasmanians had access to more support, when and where they needed it.

“A strong economy means you can guarantee the essential services, providing new health support to all Tasmanians helping them improve their lives,” the Prime Minister said.

“The importance of mental health support has never been more evident than in recent years when COVID had many Tasmanians seeking help for the first time, that’s why our support for these services is so important.”

Minister for Health and Aged Care Greg Hunt congratulated Tasmania on its commitment to providing this support to people across the state.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the mental health and wellbeing of Australians and there is no better time to work together and ensure we close the gaps in the mental health and suicide prevention system,” Minister Hunt said.

Tasmanian Premier and Minister for Mental Health and Wellbeing Jeremy Rockliff said that the agreement strongly aligns with the Tasmanian Government’s major investment in systemic, state-wide mental health reform, and will assist in achieving Tasmania’s long-term goals to improve timely access to care and improved mental health outcomes for our community.

Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention David Coleman said the funding would create new services and much needed support for Tasmanians engaging with the mental health and suicide prevention system.

“As a result of this new agreement, every Tasmanian who is discharged from hospital following a suicide attempt will receive at least three months of immediate follow up care and support,” Assistant Minister Coleman said.

“The risk of suicide is greatest in the days and weeks following discharge from hospital due to a previous suicide attempt, yet not everyone in this group receives follow up care. These people are amongst our most vulnerable, and through this agreement we are committing to do everything we can to support them.”

Young Tasmanians will also have better access to mental health services, with headspace receiving a significant boost in funding to substantially expand and enhance services.

Staffing levels will be increased at existing headspace services, and one new centre will be established. These services will be well integrated with local Tasmanian services to ensure a supportive transition for those experiencing severe and complex mental ill health.

Three Head to Health Kids Hubs will also be integrated with the new CFLCs in Tasmania. These integrated services will provide multidisciplinary team care to children and contribute to Tasmania’s response to its review of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services.

Three new adult Head to Health satellite clinics will also be established in 2023-24. This will provide integrated, seamless mental health care for adults and older adults across the state.

These satellites are in addition to Tasmania’s two Integration Hubs and the state’s first Head to Health centre that opened in Launceston earlier this year and will continue to support Tasmanians in the “missing middle” – those who are too unwell for the general primary care system, but not unwell enough to require inpatient hospital services or intensive state-based community care.

Within Head to Health services, care will be delivered by multidisciplinary teams consisting of psychiatrists, general practitioners, psychologists, alcohol and drug specialists, mental health nurses, social workers, occupational therapists, mental health workers and lived experience workers.

Other key initiatives include funding toward delivering three eating disorder day programs to provide additional support for people with eating disorders in Tasmania, the enhancement of digital capture and reporting of perinatal mental health screening data, and the use of the Initial Assessment and Referral tool and telephone/digital service to support consistent intake, referral and integration across all state-funded services and clinical services in Tasmania.

The bilateral agreement forms part of the National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Agreement.

The National Agreement considers key mental health reports and inquiries including recommendations from the Productivity Commission’s Inquiry into Mental Health and the National Suicide Prevention Adviser’s final advice. It outlines actions to build a comprehensive, coordinated, consumer focused and compassionate mental health and suicide prevention system to support all Australians.

The National Agreement clarifies roles and responsibilities; progress improvements in the mental health services available to adults, children and youth; improve data collection, sharing and evaluation; reduce gaps in the system of care; expand and enhance the workforce, including the peer workforce; and work to improve mental health and suicide prevention for all Australians, across a range of settings.

The Australian Government is delivering structural reform and real change in mental health and suicide prevention, and has invested almost $3 billion towards the National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan since 2021-22.

This brings the estimated health portfolio expenditure in mental health and suicide prevention services and supports in 2022-23 to a record high of $6.8 billion.

Australians needing support throughout the COVID-19 pandemic can access the Beyond Blue Coronavirus Wellbeing Support Service any time via telephone at 1800 512 348 or online at coronavirus.beyondblue.org.au.

Anyone experiencing distress can also seek immediate advice and support through Lifeline (13 11 14), Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800), or the Government’s digital mental health gateway, Head to Health.

If you are concerned about suicide, living with someone who is considering suicide, or bereaved by suicide, the Suicide Call Back Service is available at 1300 659 467 or www.suicidecallbackservice.org.au.

Young Australians needing support can access free services through Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800), their local headspace or online through eheadspace (https://headspace.org.au/eheadspace/).