Mental health report needs action now

The Consumers Health Forum supports the final report of the Productivity Commission on Mental Health and urges governments to implement the findings as a comprehensive package.

“This report is a valuable first step in reshaping Australia’s mental health services to meet the overwhelming demand for improvement when so many people struggle to get the life-changing care they need,” the CEO of the Consumers Health Forum, Leanne Wells, said today.

“We particularly welcome the strong focus on early intervention approaches, including in schools, workplaces and in suicide prevention and stigma prevention.  Important also is recognition that intensity of care --- both clinical and non-clinical --- should change and adapt to meet individual needs.

“The Federal Government has taken considerable time to establish and release this report, and now to act on its findings, and we trust that the resulting measures all levels of government should implement will largely reflect the thrust of this well-considered, in-depth report.

“This is the time to act decisively on a great health challenge for millions of people and it would be a wasted opportunity if the outcome was merely to pick and choose elements of the report rather than adopting the findings which require systemic and substantial reform to achieve a more responsive, person-centred and better coordinated mental health system for all Australians.

“A stronger role for consumers and carers is recognised in the report which has supported most of the recommendations the Consumers Health Forum made to the Commission inquiry.

“These recommendations included:

  • Establishing a clear, ongoing role for consumers and carers in all aspects of mental health system planning, design, monitoring and evaluation, including funding separate representative peak bodies at the national level for consumers and families and carers
  • Strengthening the peer workforce, including seed funding for a professional organisation and an education program for health professionals

“Other elements of the report included a strong focus on system navigation and care coordination, social determinants of health such as education and housing, and digital health, through both telehealth and a broader digital platform to support care planning.

“For many consumers, mental ill-health and the risk of becoming mentally unwell is another dimension to their physical health problems.   Comorbid mental and physical health problems are more common that we think.  Joined up services are vital: the Commission has offered several recommendations for improvement to connected care.

  “After many years of numerous inquiries into mental health services, governments now have a comprehensive plan for national action which should be implemented as soon as possible,” Ms Wells said.

For the Report’s summary of consumer issues see the fact sheet.


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Mark Metherell
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