Qld mental health funding lowest in nation

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The Queensland government has been urged to substantially boost funding for mental health and alcohol and drug services, which is the lowest per capita of any state in the country.

A parliamentary committee called for an increase and restructuring of funding after an inquiry into improving mental health outcomes.

Demand for mental health support surged during the pandemic, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said

"COVID brought about so much change. We had businesses unsure of what was going to happen, we had our families who weren't able to go about doing their normal lives," said Ms Palaszczuk, who welcomed the report.

The Mental Health Select Committee's report found state government funding for mental health and alcohol and other drugs (AOD) services in Queensland was the lowest in the nation.

"Queensland's expenditure on mental health services has been lower than the national average for a decade, and in 2019-20 was the lowest per capita expenditure on mental health services in Australia," according to the report released on Monday night.

"It is evident that to reform Queensland's mental health and AOD system, a substantial increase in investment is required."

The committee said state government funding must be boosted and guaranteed for individual services for five years.

More public, community and affordable housing is vital, with homelessness or lack of access to secure housing significantly impacting mental health.

"The committee notes that the relationship between social determinants of health such as housing, homelessness, mental ill-health and problematic alcohol and other drug use is strongly interrelated, highly complex and bidirectional," the report found.

Mental health and AOD services also need to be boosted in Indigenous, culturally and linguistically diverse, rural and regional, and LGBTQIA communities.

The report found Queensland needs more mental health and AOD safe spaces at hospitals and in the community, potentially with extended hours of operation, to relieve pressure on emergency departments.

Better aftercare services for patients who make mental health and suicide-related presentations are needed.

The committee called for a "whole of government" strategy to support Queenslanders who have experienced trauma, including physical and sexual abuse, domestic and family violence, and adverse childhood experiences.

Committee chair Joe Kelly said the inquiry revealed a substantial restructuring of the mental health system was needed.

Ms Palaszczuk said the report would be given serious consideration as the government worked through the recommendations.

"It's not only adults, it's young people that are also affected by mental health. It's the elderly. Social isolation ... brings on a whole range of complex issues ... We are taking this very seriously," she said.

However, the committee members disagreed on how to increase funding for mental health and AOD services.

The LNP opposition agreed mental health funding was desperately needed but called for it to be funded through Queensland Health, not with a new tax.

"In the midst of a full-blown cost-of-living crisis, the government is talking about a potential tax that would impact hardworking families and that is the concern we have now, " said LNP spokesman David Janetzki.

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