Legislative Council: Wednesday, September 27, 2023


World Mental Health Day

The Hon. L.A. HENDERSON (15:27): I rise today to speak about World Mental Health Day, which is held on 10 October. This year's theme is 'Mental health is a universal human right' and aims to improve knowledge, raise awareness and drive actions that promote and protect everyone's mental health as a universal human right.

One in eight people globally are living with mental health conditions which can impact their physical health, their wellbeing, how they connect with others, and their livelihoods. The prevalence of mental health conditions is increasing worldwide, with the WHO saying that this is mainly because of demographic changes and that there has been a 13 per cent rise in mental health conditions and substance use disorders in the last decade to 2017.

We know that good mental health contributes to overall health and wellbeing. I think more and more we acknowledge the importance of good mental health and the impact that poor mental health, and at times the challenges that it poses, has on not only the individual but their broader support network as well. The Marshall Liberal government made significant contributions towards providing mental health services for South Australians and included significant funding in their budget.

In the 2021 state budget, $163.5 million was invested over four years in both recurrent and capital funding, supporting the implementation of several initiatives in the Mental Health Services Plan 2020 to 2025. This included $20 million to build a 16-bed crisis stabilisation centre for the northern suburbs and $8.5 million in annual operational funding, and $48 million to build a new 20-bed older persons acute mental health unit at Modbury Hospital, addressing the mental health needs of the elderly in the north-eastern suburbs as the current Woodleigh House was no longer fit for purpose as a mental health facility.

In 2021, the Marshall Liberal government introduced the Suicide Prevention Bill, the first of its kind for any jurisdiction in Australia, I understand, establishing the council and state Suicide Prevention Plan to enable evidence-based strategies to address risk factors and reduce the risk of suicide occurring in particular places, in particular circumstances, or among particular groups of people, including but not limited to groups like veterans, culturally and linguistically diverse people, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, young people, older men and women, and many more to be supported across all levels of government.

The importance of access to mental health care and changing the stigma around mental health is something that I have raised in this chamber before and I will take the opportunity again today to continue to raise awareness and change the stigma. In my maiden speech, I highlighted that I will champion for all those who serve our community, for those who put on a uniform every day to make sure that they keep Australians safe, at times to the detriment of their own safety.

I committed to champion to ensure that they are given the best support possible so that they are able to do their job safely and, importantly, are given the support they need after they finish their service, and to champion for the support of their families, who themselves make many sacrifices to support their loved ones through the challenging times that they face.

This chamber recently supported a select committee that I moved—and I was very grateful for the support of many in this chamber—that will inquire into support and mental health services for police and more broadly look into our frontline workers and the support that they receive. The establishment of this select committee acts to check in with our police and their families to ensure that they have the support they need to fulfil their duty safely. Decision-makers taking the time and taking a moment to check in with our frontline workers to ensure that the systems that are in place are still sufficient for the ever-changing nature of the work that they do is critical.

Mental health is a basic human right for all people. Everyone should have access to mental health care when they need it but, importantly, have access to preventative mental health care as well before they get to that critical point.