Calls for national consistency in diagnosis and treatment of ADHD have been made by a Greens-lead senate inquiry in order to improve the lives of those who are impacted and live with the condition.
ADHD (Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder) is the most common mental health condition in Australia for people under the age of 17, and the inquiry found that without the proper support methods in place there can be significant impacts along the life of those with ADHD such as difficulties with education and finding work.
The Senate also found that the difficulties in getting assistance leads to individuals with ADHD having shorter life expectancies, and a higher likelihood of having depression and anxiety, or attempting suicide.
During the inquiry senators heard the testimonies of 79 witnesses and over 700 community submissions across three public hearings, which helped them to make their report: Assessment and Support Services for People with ADHD.
In the report findings, senators suggested that an overhaul be made nationally to the treatment of ADHD to fund a greater amount of research on ADHD, and better training for healthcare professionals.
What did the Senate inquiry into ADHD recommend?
The Senate’s report which was released on November 7 made a total of 15 recommendations for how to support people with ADHD.
Their recommendations are meant to be addressed by a variety of government bodies, including the federal and state governments, the NDIS, the Department of Social Services, and Medicare.
Here’s a breakdown of what the inquiry recommended:
1. The government to co-fund and design a National Framework for ADHD alongside autonomous voices.
The inquiry found that a standard national approach would greatly benefit those with ADHD, as it meant that they would be able to seek help anywhere in the country. States and territories having different requirements for medication, or even diagnosis, can mean that folks with ADHD have to travel to get support. A national framework built with people who have lived-experience would hopefully improve this.
2. Reviews of Medicare and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) to improve treatment and medication.
Making medication, treatment, and support affordable and accessible across Australia was found to be crucial area for improvement. Improvements to Medicare included promoting bulk-billing for diagnosis and treatment and finding ways to support those with a diagnosis on low income. The changes to the PBS suggested were increasing the range of medications that could be subsidised, removing age restrictions on certain medications, reviewing maximum dosage amounts, and increasing the number of health professionals who could diagnose and prescribe medication.
3. Improving the information, resources, and education around ADHD to reduce negative stigma.
During the hearings the inquiry learnt of the barriers that are created by a lack of information and education on ADHD, and so they recommend the creation of an official ADHD government information portal where anyone can learn about the condition, and how to seek diagnosis or support.
As well as a portal, the report recommended creating a public health campaign that affirmed neurodiversity and shifted negative stigma away from ADHD through positive and substantial information.
It also found that the information around eligibility of support for ADHD from the NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme) was lacking, and so an improvement into spreading awareness of this was recommended.
4. Bigger investments from government into ADHD research, support organisations, and professionals.
At the core of the Senate’s findings was how little funding was given to support a condition which effected such a massive population of the country.
The report called for the government to invest more money into research into ADHD, ways to better understand it, treatment, and ways to reduce stigma. It also called for an investment into the implementation of the Australian ADHD Professionals Association’s Australian evidence-based clinical practice guideline for ADHD.
Finally, funding for the better training and equipping of professionals in workplaces and education spaces was recommended too, so that people with ADHD have support wherever they go.
The federal government now have three months before they respond to these recommendations from the inquiry.