How did you first get involved in the AMHP?
I read Ben’s petition in relation to getting rid of the two tier MBS system under the Better Access initiative on Facebook and strongly agreed with his points which resonated with me and were in line with some political advocating I had been doing on behalf of the Australian Counselling Association. I did some research on Ben and found he was the Chair of the AMHP and so familiarised myself with the party. I liked what I saw so I joined.
What do you find most challenging about the issue of mental health?
The limited amount of funding that the government puts into mental health particularly in comparison to Defence. When you weigh up the economic cost of mental health to Australia the disparity is ridiculous. Mental and behavioural health disorders are the third biggest disease burden in Australia after cancer and cardiovascular diseases. The cost of mental ill-health in Australia each year is around four per cent of GDP or about $4000 for every tax payer and it costs the nation more than $60 billion. Government expenditure was $9.0 billion, or $373 per person, on mental health-related services in Australia during 2015–16. If you were to run a business using this same model you will without any doubt go broke. Defence spending for this year was $36.4 billion with a large portion of that money going overseas to non-Australian manufacturers. For example $108 million to Lockheed Martin for each F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
What do you wish people knew about the issue of mental health?
Treatment for the majority of mental health issues if suffers seek treatment early can be resolved without complex clinical processes that require a formal diagnosis or medication. Less than 10% of mental health issues require complex clinical treatments when early intervention services are accessed. If Australians were given free access to mental health services without the need for a formal diagnosis or seeing a GP we would put a significant dent in the economic let alone personal cost of mental health.
Define yourself in three words
Tenacious, innovative, loyal.