People with a mental illness can be among the most disadvantaged in society, and they often confront many barriers as a direct result of their illness. Stigma and discrimination is one major barrier and can often be worse than the illness itself. Changing perceptions about mental illness can go a long way towards breaking down some of the barriers that stigma and discrimination creates.
Consumer and carer participation in all levels of decision-making is fundamental to the improvement of mental health services and crucial to improving the lives of people with a mental illness. However, there is still much more to be done and the continued participation and engagement of consumers and carers is vital.
Approximately 20 per cent of the Australian population will experience mental illness in any given year. Services must be improved to meet increasing demands and to ensure that people with a mental illness receive high quality and targeted services.
Australia urgently needs systemic changes to its mental health system. To avoid the development of chronic mental illness and reduce the burden of disease on the community, fundamental and coordinated reforms require new ways of thinking and funding.
The capacity and potential of the Australian mental health sector must be enhanced and its potential recognised, through collaborative and innovative ways of working across all sections of society, to effectively support the needs of people with mental illness.