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State pledge on mental health work

By EMILY BAKER | The Examiner | July 3, 2015, 11:13 p.m

HEALTH Minister Michael Ferguson says Tasmania "has a problem" when it comes to mental health.

Mr Ferguson spoke this week after he released results from the second stage of the government's Rethink Mental Health Project.

A review and stakeholder consultation on the state's mental health services and system revealed an alarming array of issues, including Tasmanians being turned away from services when at risk of suicide, hospital staff showing a lack of respect, empathy and compassion, and a worsening state of mental health for some patients following delays in accessing psychiatric services.

Mr Ferguson said that while the veracity of the claims had not been tested, the government would work to improve the system.

The government will invest $3 million in suicide prevention and is developing a Tasmanian Suicide Prevention Strategy and a Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy.

The 10-year plan for mental health will be released in October, while the strategies are expected to be delivered in December.

"Suicide is a significant issue in Tasmania and across the nation, and every life lost to suicide comes at a huge personal cost to families, friends and communities ," Mr Ferguson said on Wednesday.

"It is a complex issue, and we know that effective suicide prevention needs a community-wide response.

"Suicide prevention is more than a list of services - it is about promoting mental health and wellbeing and connecting as a community - every day.

"The government is looking at a range of other strategies as part of our election commitment, including community action plans for local communities, early intervention referral pathways, especially following a suicide attempt or self-harming, suicide prevention awareness training for key occupations, and analysis of suicide 'hotspots' to reduce risks if places are known for repeat suicides."

Cornerstone Youth Services chief executive David O'Sign said more could always be done to help those who needed assistance with mental health.

The organisation oversees Headspace in the state, which delivers Headspace School Support to schools affected by suicide.

"I'd agree that we're thinking about it and talking about it more. The more we talk about it, it makes it easier to know what to say and what to do," Mr O'Sign said.

● If you need help, you can contact Lifeline on 131 114, beyondblue on 1300 224 636, Lifelink Samaritans on 1300 364 566, Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800, or MensLine Australia 1300 789 978.

Courtesy of The Examiner

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