Twelve months on from a scathing report into Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services and families are still pleading for help in the face of chronic under-funding.
Shadow Mental Health Minister Libby Mettam said despite at least eight reviews into services and a taskforce report pending, the situation remained dire.
“Review after review is telling us that there is a big gap in prevention and community services, but it is continually being under funded by the WA Labor Government,” Ms Mettam said.
“The gaps are leading to many children and adolescents falling through the gaps and we simply can not allow it to continue unchecked.
“Today’s story of a 17-year-old from my electorate is one of many but highlights the desperation many families are feeling.
“This youth has had 33 emergency department presentations since October last year and over a two-week period had seven admissions to hospital.
“His mother described it as a revolving door of health with very little community support available that had been soul destroying for her family.
“We know that when mental health issues aren’t properly addressed, the outcomes can be devastating but the response in appropriate services has not matched the urgency these families seek and deserve.”
Ms Mettam said as outlined in the December 2020 review by chief psychiatrist Dr Nathan Gibson funding for the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service has not kept pace with the increasing demand for services.
“The report stated that over the past decade in our metropolitan EDs, there has been a 214% increase in self-harm/suicide risk/attempted suicide presentations of 13 to 17-year-olds and a 403% increase in the under 13s,” Ms Mettam said.
“However, the current CAMHS funding represents just 6.6% of the 2021-22 Mental Health Services budget.
“Overall, the WA health system remains focussed on acute care with only 1.6 per cent of total health expenditure in WA spent on prevention activities each year.
“This is woefully underfunded and could reduce the need for hospital presentations and the impact on the system but it is not an area the WA Labor Government is willing to fund properly.
“To create real change in the health system requires not only a willingness to fund the programs that deliver real outcomes for the people of Western Australia, it requires an appetite to want to change and the courage to move away from a business as usual approach.
“Unfortunately, in the meantime families will continue to suffer as they attempt to seek help in a system that can’t cope with the demand.”