Attn. Ms Kate Gumley
Our organisation is the peak body for mental health in SA.
We have considerable interest and understanding regarding the issues and gaps in service delivery to people with mental illness.
Our policy statement ‘Housing for Mental Health’ is available on our website: http://mhcsa.net/docs/2008/03/housing_mh_4.pdf
Of major concern regarding quality is the timeliness, quality, access and level of support for people with mental illness around obtaining and maintaining housing.
A snapshot survey of people with mental illness in the SA mental health system showed that around 30% experienced homelessness or vulnerable housing in the preceding 12 months.
It is alarming that this is occurring in a group who are already receiving a considerable amount of mental health services, let alone the many people with mental illness who are not engaged in mental health support services.
One of the most important changes in mental health at both national and state level has been the development of skilled non-government provided support services – eg through Commonwealth programs such as personal helpers and mentors and day to day living; at a state level we have development individual psychosocial rehabilitation support services (IPRSS)
Key indicators for success include:
- whether a person who is homeless or in vulnerable housing is supported to successfully engage with services they need. This includes ngo-provided psychosocial rehabilitation supports to live well in the community
- Whether people are discharged from mental health settings into homeless or vulnerable housing situations without proper supports
A risk of current service delivery is that they will not lead to effective engagement with the full range of mental health services that are needed. Therefore I urge you to ensure in your deliberations around quality to include thinking about how engagement will be fostered and encouraged for people to access and benefit from the full range of mental health services – government, non-government and private (including GPs etc).
I would be happy to discuss this further.
Mental Health Coalition of SA Inc
408 King William Street, Adelaide 5000
Tel: 08 82128873
Fax: 08 82128874
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Housing for Mental Health 2008 - 2012
Safe, affordable and stable housing is essential to recovering from mental illness and maintaining mental health.
The growing housing affordability crisis requires specific focus on support initiatives for people already disadvantaged in the housing market for reasons in addition to affordability.
There is growing evidence that the lack of affordable housing is a serious and worsening problem for people with mental illness.
Many people with mental illness in SA cannot access the accommodation or supports they need and this reduces their ability to recover and maintain their mental health and limits the effectiveness of public spending on mental health.
The default accommodation options for people with mental illness are increasingly prisons and hospitals which goes against the broadly accepted social policy of deinstitutionalisation.
The average recurrent cost of providing one:
- mental health hospital bed (2002/3 figures) is over $150,000 per year
- prison bed (2005/6 figures) is over $ 65,000 per year
- unit of public housing (2006/7 figures) is $ 5,990 per year
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Current evidence of housing need for people with mental illness includes:
- A snapshot survey of inpatients in mental health beds across Australia showed that around 50% of patients were still in hospital because they lacked either accommodation or support
- Three of the larger community housing providers in SA report over 500 people with mental illness on their waiting lists
- There are over 2100 people on the public housing waiting list in South Australia with self reported mental illness (as at 30 June 2007)
- During 2006/7 only 59% (442) of the people with self-reported mental illness who applied for public housing were successful
- Over 1000 people with mental illness are reported to be in Supported Residential Facilities and boarding house type accommodation
- The Social Inclusion Board Report 'Stepping Up' stated that 2000 people in public housing who are also clients of the public mental health system are likely to require additional support
The Mental Health Coalition of SA calls on the Commonwealth and the South Australian governments to work together on a five-year 'Housing for Mental Health Plan 2008 -2012' that invests on a sufficient scale to provide long term, coordinated housing and support options for people with mental illness in SA who are currently in severe housing stress.
A successful five year Housing for Mental Health Plan 2008-2012 in South Australia will:
- Recognise that access to safe, affordable and stable housing and an appropriate level of support is a critical building block of our mental health system
- Set the goals of providing access to appropriate housing and support options for all people with mental illness
- Invest $50m per year in South Australia to create 500 new units per year of public and/or community housing for people with mental illness as a core component of the solution
- Ensure that timely, coordinated and targeted programs deliver housing and supports for people with mental illness including for people exiting hospital settings
- Monitor and report to the community, progress towards achieving the goals of providing appropriate housing and support options for all people with mental illness.