The need for mental illness to rise on Government priority lists is clear. The importance of inclusive mental health care for all, including those from low-socio economic groups, has been proven time again. Although in theory more of the national health budget is now drawn towards mental health, in reality changes are not consistent across regions and in some cases, not effectively implemented.

The Banyan's advocacy strategy is across two main spheres - the first to improve access to care for those with mental illness and the second to provide integrated support services to the client and family. The Banyan's experience has shown that these are the two areas that cause the mentally ill to become homeless and place undue pressure on families so they are unable to provide adequate care where required.

The District Mental Health Program (DMHP) is in place to provide this care. The State recognises that there is a need for these services and resources have been allocated. In spite of this intention, very few changes have been seen in the systems. Conditions in some State run facilities have improved but changes are not consistent or sustained. In the majority of cases the care available is no different to that available before the implementation of the project back in 1982.

Key achievements thus far:

  • The set up of the Dial 100 Project that demonstrates the need for such a facility and the difference that engagement and improvement of State institution rehabilitation services can make
  • The recognition of the Disability Allowance for those with mental illness and the distribution of cards to those in need.
  • The demonstration of a model of care that is accurate and sustainable for those with mental health problems from low socio-economic groups that includes an institutional style transit-care centre, a rehabilitation model, localised care and long-term care.

The Banyan engages in both research and advocacy to demonstrate the gaps and advise of changes that should be made. Much of this is conducted in collaboration with The Banyan Academy of Leadership in Mental Health (BALM) and full details can be found on their website. Work continues to put pressure on the State to change its ways and provide the care that is required to those vulnerable as a result of their mental illness.