Only 20% of CQ mental health funds get to community services

MORE cash is needed to keep Rockhampton's transient work population's mental health flying high.

A call by one of Rockhampton's top health experts for more government funding was echoed across regional Queensland on Wednesday.

An APN special investigation this week revealed 408 matters were heard in Central Queensland's Mental Health Review Tribunal sittings last financial year.

Mental Illness Fellowship, which provides support to hundreds of residents across the region each week, said the region's fly-in fly-out workers were missing out on vital support. MIF Queensland branch chief Tony Stevenson's plea for more mental health funding was echoed across regional Queensland yesterday.

"With fly-in fly-out workers there's a major impact on the family and lifestyle - I mean the physical health issues, the nutrition and the whole lifestyle thing," he said.

"Then there's that dislocation and the reconnecting with family - all of those things contribute to the stress resulting from that area (of the workforce)."

Mr Stevenson said well-targeted funding could make all the difference for Rockhampton's mental health needs.

It costs about $500,000 a year for someone to stay in a hospital mental health bed, but $7000 to $10,000 a year to help people manage psychological problems at home.


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"If we were to increase the funding in that (the community) area we'd actually reduce the need for the acute crisis-driven services - the more expensive services," Mr Stevenson said.

"So we need more funding and we also need a shift in that funding into community and preventative areas.

"... of the funding that does go into mental health, about 80% of that goes into the clinical - your really high-cost end of mental health like the acute beds in hospitals. Only about 20% of the funding goes to the services where people can be supported in the community."

Mental Health Review Tribunal president Barry Thomas backed the call for more funding.

A spokesman for state Health Minister Lawrence Springborg said the government had invested $130.35 million to progress 16 capital works projects providing 259 new or upgraded beds for acute and extended-stay treatment.

"Combined with Commonwealth capital funding for an additional 99 beds, we will deliver nine new community care units across the state with completion expected by mid-2015," he said.

"CCUs are community-based, residential facilities that provide 24-hour mental health care, peer support and rehabilitation."

This let people live closer to home with support from families, friends and carers and minimum possible disruption."

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