The government has invested an additional $648 million in mental health and suicide prevention commitments in this year’s 2022 budget in an effort to end what it calls a ‘tragedy for many Australian families.’
Mental health nurse Tom, who wished to remain anonymous, told Central News the government’s goal of toward ‘zero suicides’ is harmful because it assumes that all suicides are preventable.
“The impact of the message that every suicide is preventable…places clinicians in a position where they’re expected to prevent suicides which is not something that is realistic or achievable,”
There is already mounting pressure on mental health workers due to workforce shortages caused by COVID-19 travel restrictions,
“I’ve been a mental health nurse since the beginning of 2014 and the last two years have been the most challenging years in my profession,” says Tom, “the covid pandemic has placed an enormous amount of stress on the workforce and has resulted in staff being burnt out and leaving.”
In their suicide prevention budget factsheet the government states that there were ‘3,139 deaths recorded as suicides in Australia in 2020′. Nineteen-year-old student Genevieve Parsons, who suffers from anxiety, believes that if the government is serious about bringing this number down, they must reprioritise their budget objectives.
“I don’t think the government is doing enough… they prioritise other areas over mental health which needs to be near the top if not the top at the moment.”
Spending on mental health services in this year’s budget was dwarfed by defence and road spending which totalled $50 billion.
Parsons thinks a re-setting of the government’s priorities is particularly important given the mental hardship of the past two years.
“The anxiety of not knowing what the future is going to be, every day is different to the day before there is never the same news story, it’s always fluctuating and updating, it’s hard to catch up sometimes,” she said.
If you need someone to talk to call Lifeline on 13 11 14
By James Fitzgerald Sice.