Survey Exposes State Government Funding Failure in Mental Health

Tuesday 06 Oct 2015

A survey of mental health professionals and health workers has found that over 70% reported not having enough staff in their workplace to carry out their jobs properly.

The survey of over 400 workers also found that 50% had experienced physical and/or verbal abuse in the workplace, with over 60% reporting that work-related stresses were adversely affecting their own mental health.

"These findings are very concerning, and show a poorly resourced mental health system struggling to deliver the best outcomes for patients, and keep health staff safe," said HSUWA Secretary Dan Hill.

The survey also found almost 55% of mental health workers reported insufficient physical resources, including dedicated beds and space in secure wards for admissions, to carry out their duties.

Further, 35% of those surveyed reported that the lack of resources had led to adverse patient outcomes. 

"Health workers are telling us there is a critical lack of resources available to properly support the delivery of mental health services to the community, and this is clearly leading to adverse outcomes for some patients and staff," Mr Hill said.

While public mental health professionals are saying they are under resourced the survey also exposed the lack of non-government external services available for mental health patients, with over 50% of those surveyed reporting inadequate support and limited accommodation services available in the community for patients on discharge.

"Our members do extraordinarily difficult jobs in tough circumstances while the Government continues to cut services and reduce staff.  This is compounded by the need to refer patients to non-government organisations which are either non-existent or similarly overstretched"

"These findings are particularly disappointing given this week (2 October to 10 October) is Mental Health Week, and sadly demonstrate the lack of priority given by the State Government to adequately fund mental health services," said Mr Hill.

"It is clear from the survey findings, that additional funding and resources are urgently needed in the mental health area, and it's about time the State Government properly invested in its commitment to the Western Australian Mental Health, Alcohol and Other Drug Services Plan 2015-2025," he said.

HSUWA represents more than 16,000 people employed in WA's public hospitals and health services, including for example administrative staff, clerks, technicians, physiotherapists, pharmacists, medical imaging technologists, clinical psychologists, social workers, medical scientists, speech pathologists, occupational therapists, dieticians, podiatrists, radiation therapists, mental health workers, and other health professionals. All play a vital role in our health system.

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