Australia's 'productivity hurt by mental health issues'

Australia's prime minister Malcolm Turnbull Image copyright EPA
Image caption A review was critical of Australia's mental health care system

Mental illness hurts Australia's productivity and services need to be overhauled, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says.

Mr Turnbull unveiled a new system that he said would give better care to patients.

The system would allow more use of technology and a focus on tailored care over a standardised approach, he said.

Australia spends around A$10b (£4.7b; $7.3b) each year on mental health services.

"Mental illness gnaws away at participation, it gnaws away at productivity," Mr Turnbull said.

The new strategy, which will be rolled out over three years from 2016, comes after a review critical of Australia's current mental health system.

Services such as hotlines will be streamlined and local health offices will be able to commission their own care plans for patients with complex needs.

Mental health advocacy groups have welcomed the decision.

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