The federal government is expected to appoint Associate Professor Ruth Vine as the country’s first deputy chief medical officer for mental health to help direct the response to the coronavirus crisis.
Health Minister Greg Hunt is expected to make a statement on mental health on Wednesday while Prof Vine, the former chief psychiatrist for Victoria, has been selected for the role, The Australian reports.
Government modelling forecasts a 50 per cent increase in suicides directly related to the economic shutdown and the associated distress, with the possibility they could outstrip direct deaths from coronavirus.
“A priority on the road out of the pandemic is supporting the mental health and wellbeing of all Australians,” Mr Hunt will say, according to the newspaper.
“Supporting the mental health of Australians is a deep personal passion of mine and a priority of this government.”
Prof Vine will sit alongside Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy, who recommended mental health be treated as a priority.
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Australian Associated Press