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Commission welcomes national plan to stave off mental health pandemic

15 May 2020

Queensland Mental Health Commissioner Ivan Frkovic today welcomed the National Mental Health and Wellbeing Pandemic Response Plan as a vital step to help avert an immediate and ongoing mental health crisis.

Mr Frkovic said Queenslanders were under increased mental and emotional strain due to job and income loss, isolation and other stress factors.

“We’ve seen increased calls to crisis and suicide-prevention help lines such as Lifeline, Beyond Blue and Kids Helpline, and concerns about domestic violence and increased alcohol consumption,” he said.

“This national plan aims to ensure the mental wellbeing of all Australians is protected during and after the pandemic.

“Everyone’s mental wellbeing is a sliding scale – it’s not static – and shifts according to stressors.

“We need to reach people as early as possible to ensure their current distress doesn’t increase the risk of mental ill-health and suicide.”

He stressed the importance of immediate action supported by a dedicated ongoing commitment.

“This plan builds on initial allocations by the Qld and federal governments and identifies evidence-based areas for immediate attention.

“The task is enormous, as the mental health system has to maintain normal services in difficult conditions while also working to manage and meet increases in demand.”

Mr Frkovic welcomed the plan’s focus on improved integration of public, private and non-government mental health services, and stronger collaboration and coordination across the states and Commonwealth.

“We need to form a cohesive system where those in need don’t fall through service gaps.”

He said he supported the plan’s focus on strengthening community-based mental health care as an urgent and immediate action.

“We must continue to develop the community mental health system to ensure it can respond before people need emergency care and inpatient treatment,” Mr Frkovic said.

“This includes helping people self-manage and building individual and community resilience, but we must ensure services are available and accessible to meet all levels of need.

“People living with severe and complex mental illness need access to ongoing high-quality community-based care and acute care when and where they need it.

“The mental health sector has already increased digital and telehealth services that are essential in a state as decentralised as Queensland.

“But such services won’t meet everyone’s needs, as people across Queensland face issues around access to smart technology and reliable internet connection,” he said.

Media: Carolyn Varley,, 0477 385 121.