NEW CAMPAIGN – HOLDING OUT FOR HELP – CALLS UPON THE NATION TO HELP SUPPORT MILLIONS OF AUSSIES IMPACTED BY MENTAL ILLNESS
Grassroots advocacy organisation Australians for Mental Health – led by former Queensland Young Australian of the Year and vocal mental health activist, Chris Raine, and supported by celebrity ambassador, Reuben Styles of Peking Duk, is calling on the federal government to prioritise mental health this federal election.
This is deemed as critical as each year, one in five Australians will experience mental illness, and 54 per cent of Australians with diagnosable mental health conditions do not receive adequate support. Mental illness, if all forms of mental ill-health, substance use and suicide are included, accounts for as much as 20 per cent of the burden of disease, yet receives less than eight per cent of the total health budget.
Reports highlight that the COVID-related lockdowns of 2020 and 2021 have added a six percentage point increase in mental illness in Australia, though Australians for Mental Health (AfMH) expects it is more.
So AfMH has launched its Holding Out for Help campaign which shines the spotlight on key systematic issues within Australia’s mental health system, and calls on the Australian public and businesses to keep the pressure on the government to address the serious shortcomings impacting those living with a mental illness.
Using the imminent federal election as an opportunity for change, AfMH is campaigning for the federal government to invest in mental health and address the problem of 1.2 million Australians who fall into the #MissingMiddle – that is, people whose needs aren’t met by current mental health services. Holding Out for Help is also focused on pushing for government to #FixTheWaitlist problem by establishing a National Patient Waitlist that operates as effectively as the waitlists for most other health conditions.
“The mental healthcare system in this country in the wake of the pandemic is at crisis point,” says AfMH Campaign Director, Chris Raine.
“As we emerge from the pandemic, our government needs to make actual commitments to safeguard Australians’ mental health into the future. Australia should and can have a world-class mental healthcare system. It is the number one health issue we need to tackle as we rebuild post COVID.
“Inquiry after inquiry has found that Australia’s mental health system is deficient. We miss opportunities to provide help, and when people look for support, they’re not adequately guided through where to go or what to look for. Worse yet, some are frequently turned away altogether. We know how long it takes to get a pizza, to the minute, yet no one can tell you how many weeks or months it will take to see a psychologist.
“People are so often told they are not sick enough for care – which is like a cancer patient being told to come back when their lump is larger or the disease has spread throughout the body. This is not only poor healthcare, it is very costly; forcing the mental health system into action only when a person is acutely unwell,” adds Chris Raine.
Through Holding Out for Help, AfMH is asking that within the next four years, political leaders commit to three critical reforms:
1. #FixTheWaitlist by establishing a National Patient Waitlist system that engages and tracks people from the moment they put their hand up for support until the moment they get that support. This system should be focused on Australians who live in regional and remote areas, and describe the types and cost of care or services people are waiting for, prioritising whenever possible access to early intervention and support for immediate care.
2. Double the capacity and capability of the mental health system by dramatically and rapidly growing the workforce, from psychiatrists through allied health and nurses to peer workers, as well investing in evidence-based digital interventions to improve our bandwidth to help people living with mental illness.
3. Scale up a national system of physical and digital community mental health hubs, supporting GPs and headspaces, with multidisciplinary teams who can offer ready and bespoke access to children, young people and older adults in the #MissingMiddle.
“With the federal election now looming, we are still yet to see a national agreement between the Federal and State politicians on a shared vision for our system – we need Australians to say that we demand better for our mental health, it’s time to send a strong message to our leaders: they must finally take this crisis seriously,” says Chris Raine.
“We need major investment in the system and we need Australians to demand it. Any Australian who has ever been put on an imaginary waitlist to get mental health care, or had this happen to a loved one, we want to add your voice to create a national chorus that cannot be ignored.”
AfMH is aiming to convince 10,000 Australians to sign its Holding Out for Help petition via www.holdingoutforhelp.com.
With research released late last year indicating that collectively Australians spend 90 million hours ‘on hold’ each year, the new campaign, Holding Out for Help, uses hold music to shine a light on the long wait times Australians face when waiting for mental health treatment.
Working alongside global superstar Reuben Styles of Peking Duk, and his new mental health focused musical project Y.O.G.A. (which stands for You’re Only Great Always), AfMH has developed a first of its kind, free hold music library. Each hold track in the music library is embedded with repeated messages from Reuben, urging customers on hold to turn their ‘hold’ time to ‘help’ time, by signing a petition for greater government funding to be allocated to mental health services.
“As someone who has lost a best friend, I can say first hand that Australia’s mental health problem needs both urgent and radical addressing.
“Our mind is, without a doubt, our most important vessel in life. Sadly however, to see a psychologist, a “mind doctor”, is now nearly impossible. The shortage in doctors along with dreadfully long wait times discourages a lot of people altogether, and some that need it the most.
“To be part of the Holding Out for Help campaign is an honour.” said Reuben Styles.
Insurance company AIA has partnered with AfMH to deliver the campaign messaging on all their customer service phone channels.
The library of music is free for all Australian businesses of every size and sector to access and download.*
The Holding out for Help campaign will run across TV, OOH, print, social and hold lines.
The campaign is supported by AfMH’s Board of experts, including AfMH founder, Pat McGorry AO, and Patrons including Ian Hickie AM and Allan Fels AO.
For more information, to access the Holding Out for Help FREE library of hold music, and to sign the Holding Out for Help petition, visit www.holdingoutforhelp.com
*Broadcast copyright licensing fees may apply to some businesses, dependent on their current hold licence music agreement.Sydney Unleashed is one of Australia’s premier entertainment publications exploring the latest in lifestyle trends. From Sydney’s finest restaurants, cafes and bars to the hottest in gadgets, products, and home entertainment, Sydney Unleashed is your one-stop lifestyle platform.