Page 1159 - Week 04 - Wednesday, 4 May 2022

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Mental health services—mental health, alcohol and other drug use disorders

Ministerial statement

MS DAVIDSON (Murrumbidgee—Assistant Minister for Families and Community Services, Minister for Disability, Minister for Justice Health, Minister for Mental Health and Minister for Veterans and Seniors) (11.16): I rise to address a resolution of this Legislative Assembly on the integration of mental health and alcohol and other drug treatment services in the ACT, which was passed on 2 December 2021.

This motion is an important one for the people in our community who experience both mental health and alcohol or other drug issues, including for their carers and families. As highlighted in the motion, the Productivity Commission inquiry report on mental health found that “many people with mental illness and comorbid physical health problems or substance use disorders do not receive integrated care, leading to poor outcomes”. This underlines the importance of providing high quality services and continually reviewing to improve the integration of our services to better meet the needs of our community.

I thank the members opposite for raising this important issue and for giving us the opportunity to provide a detailed overview of the ACT government’s services and commitments to address co-occurring mental health and substance use issues and how we are working to continually improve our integration and coordination of mental health and alcohol or other drug services.

I would like to start with a summary of the scope and cost impacts. The Australian National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing in 2007 found that 35 per cent of individuals with a substance use disorder also meet the diagnostic criteria for at least one co-occurring mood or anxiety disorder. This rate is even higher for people receiving treatment for either condition.

A recent Australian study found that 70 per cent of those in alcohol and drug residential rehabilitation were experiencing a current anxiety disorder, and 55 per cent were experiencing current depression. A 2010 survey of people with psychosis found that 50 per cent of people with a psychotic disorder requiring treatment also had a lifetime history of alcohol use or dependence.

According to the Matilda Centre at the University of Sydney, co-occurring mental health and substance use issues are also chronic, common and costly diseases of the young. People with co-occurring mental health and substance use issues are more likely to experience more frequent hospitalisations; longer stays in emergency departments and premature discharge from inpatient units; higher levels of suicidal ideation; and worse economic and social outcomes, including problems with housing and homelessness, employment, income support and legal problems.

This clearly shows that co-occurring mental illness and alcohol and other drug issues have health and social impacts on people and their families and the community around

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