Community leaders have welcomed additional mental health funding in regional areas, but worry money is not a substitute for structural change.
The State Government announced a $1.9 billion funding boost for mental health services on Monday, with a significant portion of the funding promised to WA’s regions.
“Country WA will benefit from a number of regional-specific initiatives and projects … to improve health outcomes throughout the state,” Premier Mark McGowan said in the announcement.
Shire of Northam president Chris Antonio says living in a regional area presents different mental health challenges.
“There’s a lack of resources and a lack of specialist resources, so people are forced into the city.
“If there’s already mental health issues then that just exacerbates them, because you’ve got more pressures about being away from home,” he says.
City of Bunbury mayor Gary Brennan says mental health issues in regional areas are often linked to other problems.
“I see it through the lens of homelessness; people in our streets who are homeless, I’m aware that they’re often suffering fairly acute and fairly long-term mental health challenges,” Mr Brennan says.
Mr Antonio says the funding will have a significant positive impact.
“Any bit of investment, you have to make sure that its strategic, and it’s not just putting on a band-aid and not addressing the underlying problems,” he says.
“You can’t just have money thrown at it, because unfortunately sometimes that can be mismanaged or wasted.”
Mr Brennan says he believes the McGowan Government is committed to helping regional areas.
“Bunbury has had quite a bit of investment into infrastructure from the State Government into mental health facilities in our city and I’m pleased that will continue.
“The more support the state can give to those people who suffer and their families who suffer with them, the better.”
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