The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) data revealed that funding for mental health research is significantly lower than other National Health Priority Areas. The data shows that mental health and suicide research have not been given enough attention compared to other areas such as cancer and even motor vehicle accidents, despite mental illness being an independent and comorbid risk factor for every major medical disease, and a significant contributor to morbidity and mortality.
A study published in the Medical Journal of Australia tested whether the proportional NHMRC funding for mental health has changed since 2010, by estimating the number and dollar value of NHMRC funding schemes awarded to mental health-related topics during 2015. The analysis indicates that mental health research received significantly less funding than its disease burden, and less total funding than the average received in the previous decade.
The study outlined three steps to be taken to increase mental health research funding. Firstly, to impress the importance of research as the key solution to managing the escalating costs of mental health. Secondly, to recognise that research funding in Australia has to change, and thirdly, determine the reasons for low yields from philanthropy and non-government support for mental health, and actively overcome barriers in order to capture funds.
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