WA News

Support needed to help mentally ill combat drug issues

Shadow Minister for Mental Health
Sean L’Estrange

The McGowan Labor Government has come under fire from the Chief Psychiatrist for not doing enough to integrate mental health and alcohol and other drug  services in WA, Shadow Minister for Mental Health Sean L’Estrange said today.

Mr L’Estrange said the submission to a parliamentary inquiry from Dr Gibson in November 2018, highlighted the need for the Government to do more to support people with mental health issues who were also struggling with alcohol and other drug dependencies.

“While the Chief Psychiatrist is advocating to support the mentally ill through the decriminalisation of the possession of small quantities of any illicit drug for personal use, the Liberal Opposition does not support this policy position because it dilutes efforts to curb the proliferation of illicit, dangerous drugs in our community,” Mr L’Estrange said.

“Decriminalising the possession of small amounts of illicit drugs for personal use sends the wrong message and suggests to the community that taking illicit drugs is safe.

“The McGowan Labor Government needs to do more to support people, particularly those with mental health issues, to become free from the need to use illicit drugs.

“It is most unfortunate that in 2018 the McGowan Labor Government cut $154,000 of funding from the meth helpline at a time when calls to the helpline were increasing and one in four calls were going unanswered.

“It is also very disappointing that the Government reduced its mental health prevention budget to just 1.9 per cent of the total Mental Health Commission budget at a time when WA has the highest suicide rate in the nation.

“Health Minister Roger Cook has cut funding for preventative mental health when the evidence is overwhelming that there are significant benefits from investing in prevention.

“I call on the McGowan Labor Government to do more to support people, particularly the mentally ill, to get off drugs and for the Government to better integrate mental health and alcohol and other drug services in WA.”

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