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World Mental Health Day: AASW renews call for greater investment in mental health services

Published: 10 October 2016

With mental illness affecting one in five Australians and deaths from suicide at a 10-year high, days like World Mental Health Day can help people discuss issues that they would normally find challenging, says the AASW National President, Professor Karen Healy Healy AM.

“While we have come a long way as a society in terms of how we talk about mental health, we must recognise that a lot of work still needs to be done,” said Professor Healy.

“We need to reduce the shame, discrimination and isolation that some people experience by investing more in mental health services and creating more inclusive communities. No-one should feel like they have to face mental health issues alone.”

She says that recent Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows that deaths from suicide are on the rise. “Suicide is the leading cause of death for Australians aged 15-44 years, mostly affecting men, but there has also been a 26 per cent increase in the suicide rates among women,” Professor Healy said.

“These are shocking statistics. Greater investment and much better access to early intervention and community-based services provided by qualified and skilled professionals can make a significant difference. Peer support is also important and skilled professionals can play a vital role in facilitating this.”

AASW social workers specialising in mental health know that mental illness affects many in the community and understand the devastating impacts of not having access to appropriate services.

“World Mental Health Day is an opportunity to do all we can to raise awareness, reduce stigma, and encourage people to get the support they need,” Professor Healy said.

The AASW encourages anyone seeking support for mental health to contact Lifeline 13 11 14, MensLine 1300 78 99 78, Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800 or to visit their GP.

The AASW represents 10,000 professional social workers, many of whom are Accredited Mental Health Social Workers. They work directly in a variety of settings with children, adults, families, groups and communities.

To arrange an interview with Professor Karen Healy AM, please contact Emma Pegrum, Media and Marketing Manager on 02 6199 5011 or 0408 200 191

AASW - Australian Association of Social Workers