Letter to Editor: free help for those struggling with mental illness

By Vanessa Wiltshire

I WRITE on behalf of the not-for-profit Mental Illness Fellowship of Australia (MIFA) to urge readers to reach out for help if they or someone they know is facing mental health issues. It is now estimated 3.8 million Australians live with a mental illness.

There can be no question that people with any kind of mental illness — including severe mental illness — need as much support as they can get.

People with severe mental illness can live successfully in the community and can recover if the correct support is there.

Obviously the last thing we want to see happen is people ending up in acute mental health-care facilities. That is why we urge readers to reach out if they feel they need support.

Latest data suggests 65% of all GP presentations are for mental health issues. Some 690,000 people across the nation live with a severe mental illness.

We are most concerned that there are at least 225,000 people across Australia, with a severe mental illness, who are are at risk of getting no support because of the changes brought about by the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

We passionately believe all governments need to be held to account for the clear current inadequacies of our current mental health system. If governments do not tackle the big issues, taxpayers end up funding bigger and bigger costs of mental health services, prisons and lost productivity.

We urge people everywhere to reach out. You can get free help by ringing Mi Networks on 1800 985 944 or visit

Tony Stevenson,

Chief Executive,
Mental Illness Fellowship of Australia.