June 21, 2010

Top Australian Mental Health Advisor Quits

Here is some important news for my Australian readers regarding the state of mental health in the eyes of the Rudd government.

PRIME Minister Kevin Rudd's top mental health adviser has quit, accusing the Government of a lack of vision and commitment to a problem that affects millions of Australians. National Advisory Council on Mental Health chairman John Mendoza tendered his resignation yesterday in a letter to Health Minister Nicola Roxon and council members.

In the letter, obtained by Fairfax newspapers, he said he had regarded his appointment as the "most important public service responsibility of my life" and felt a "deep sense of disappointment" in quitting.

"It is now abundantly clear that there is no vision or commitment from the Rudd Government to mental health," he wrote. "The Rudd Government is publicly claiming credit for the increased investment in mental health when almost all of this is a consequence of the work of the Howard Government."

Professor Mendoza's resignation came as leaked figures revealed the expansion of the Better Access program, which provides rebates under Medicare for services such as general practitioner mental health plans and visits to psychologists.

Most experts on the advisory council believe the program is sucking money from where it is needed - on services for growing numbers of mentally unwell young people - and that it is shutting out men, the poor and rural Australians.

Professor Mendoza described the program as "a mess" that should be overhauled into taxpayer-funded teams of psychologists and other professionals, such as mental health nurses and social workers.

Today, through a spokesman, Ms Roxon thanked Professor Mendoza for his service and agreed that more needed to be done.

"However, the Minister rejects Mr Mendoza's assertion that the Government has no commitment to mental health." Source: http://www.news.com.au/breaking-news/prime-minister-kevin-rudds-top-mental-health-adviser-john-mendoza-quits/story-e6frfku0-1225881829753

Here is another Australian news article focusing on Greens Senator Siewert's thoughts of the resignation of John Mendoza and the state of mental health services and funding.

THE resignation of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's top mental health advisor has prompted calls for an extra $5bn to be committed to this 'neglected' problem. Greens senator and health spokeswoman Rachel Siewert says the resignation of National Advisory Council on Mental Health chairman John Mendoza is indicative of the "tokenistic" approach the federal government has taken on a problem affecting millions of Australians.
Mr Mendoza quit on Friday, after accusing the federal government of a lack of vision and commitment.
Just $175 million was allocated to new funding for mental health in last month's $7.2 billion federal health budget.
In his resignation letter to federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon and fellow council members, Professor Mendoza said the federal government was trying to take credit for Howard-era spending on mental health.


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