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Welcoming the Government’s focus on improving mental health outcomes

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Jack Heath, SANE CEOWe were encouraged by the Federal Government’s long-anticipated response to the National Mental Health Commission’s Review of Mental Health Programmes and Services. We were particularly pleased to see the Government take leadership of mental health reform as SANE has long been advocating for this.

We welcome the increased focus on digital technology to deliver support services and information. This is especially critical for people living in rural and regional communities who don’t have ready access to mental health services.

The Government’s recognition of the vital role of formal and informal peer-to-peer support services is also welcome. Peer support generally has an important role to play in recovery-oriented mental health services. Online services like the SANE Forums provide valuable support for individuals on the path to recovery, irrespective of where people live in Australia.

What isn’t clear in the Government’s response is how the impact of the reforms will be measured. It is essential that appropriate indicators are established so that we are better able to understand whether the reforms actually deliver on the intended goal of improved mental health for individuals. We need to know if the changes mean more people are being supported and lives are improving rather than output data on the number of services or consultations being provided.

It is also still unclear as to how the reforms will be implemented. This uncertainty can create undue anxiety for people affected by mental illness. The Government’s implementation plan must ensure that people in need are supported while the reforms are rolled out.

But overall we welcome the Government’s focus on improving mental health outcomes for Australians and we stand ready to work with policy makers, organisations, people with lived experience and carers to improve treatment and health outcomes for all people affected by mental illness.

Jack Heath

Last updated: 1 March 2017