Mental health policies highlight the reform challenge ahead, September 2013

The Mental Health Council of Australia (MHCA) welcomed the major parties’ mental health policy announcements, which both highlight the reform challenge that lies ahead.

“The announcement of significant inquiries into mental health gives us some hope that lasting reform can be achieved,” MHCA CEO Mr Frank Quinlan said.

“The mental health system is broken. While it needs more funding, it also needs substantial reform.  We hope that a root and branch review will bring order to the chaotic system that we currently have.”

“While we are pleased with Labor’s announcement of new investments in: headspace, Lifeline, workplace mental health, suicide prevention and workplace programs, its announcement of a Productivity Commission inquiry to review the mental health system would give us the insights we need to transform our present system and build a world class system of tomorrow.”

“The Coalition have promised to invest in important areas such as: youth mental health, self-harm and suicide, headspace, Early Psychosis Prevention and Intervention Centres, and research.  The Coalition have also announced an inquiry into the effectiveness of all existing mental health programs by the National Mental Health Commission, recognising the need for substantial systemic reform and new vision for the future.”

To achieve root and branch reform, any inquiry will need to address issues such as:

  • Identifying the full range of costs of different types of mental illness, for consumers, their families and carers, government, business, and the community as a whole
  • Considering the potential economic and non-economic benefits of reduced discrimination, increased workforce and education participation, and increased community wellbeing
  • Considering the effectiveness of current investments in mental health and other related systems, and the nature and extent of met and unmet need
  • Clarify roles and accountability for Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments
  • Identifying possible barriers to care for people with mental illness and their carers
  • Developing concrete plans for improving the efficiency of service delivery.

“With one in five Australians experiencing a mental illness in every year, mental health is one of the most important issues facing our community,” Mr Quinlan said.

“Only through commitment to systemic reform over the next decade, by all sides of politics, can we achieve real and meaningful change in the lives of millions of Australians.”

Rate this article: