Wait times for mental health specialist services have stretched to more than six months in parts of NSW, with a new report showing one in eight residents has developed a new condition since the pandemic began.
NSW Mental Health Commissioner Catherine Lourey told the Herald Australia will need to recruit from abroad to boost its depleted and exhausted mental health workforce, as demand outstrips supply for services after two years of lockdowns and pandemic distress.
Data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows a 25 per cent jump in the number of people seeking mental health services last year compared with the same time pre-pandemic.
There were 1173 Medical Benefits Scheme mental health services accessed per 100,000 people in the week beginning September 6, compared to 941 in 2019.
“As demand on services rises, waiting lists for specialists are blowing out to more than six months, particularly in regional parts of NSW,” Lourey said.
Read more: Lockdown toll: One in eight has new mental health condition