CEO Update: Hats off to the mental health care frontline

Hats off to the mental health care frontline

In a local community survey I reviewed this week, the majority of respondents surveyed were more worried now about their mental health (49% rated it as fair to poor) than their physical health (32% rated it as fair to poor). It showed that while our health systems are getting on top of the pandemic’s primary concern – physical health - the second and third layers of this pandemic are creating increased pressure and will continue to do so for our mental health care frontline and secondary support systems.

Our mental health ecosystem is under constant strain and where data is reported, alongside commentary on this most challenging deterioration in the mental health of our communities, the encouragement to seek help - and advice on how to do so – needs to be met by those on the frontline.

Of course there are services available, as are family and friends for many, even if they are only accessible by phone or the internet and we all can, and should provide personal support, connection and reassurance to those in our networks.

Especially those identified as vulnerable, which was another piece of interesting data from the survey that highlighted the community’s increased concern and worry for those less enabled and empowered than others.

This regional survey is not unique, and we know the experience of mental ill health, stress, anxiety, worries, sadness and concern is building, and is shared across the country.

Which is why Mental Health Australia wants to recognise the challenge everyone is facing and the courage people need to keep going – many with very steep pathways ahead, and some with seriously depleted personal strength and physical resources to do so.

Never more so than now, we want to acknowledge the healthcare professionals who are all effectively on the ‘front line’ in any pandemic.

We know the constant tide and emerging waves of the mental health impact are being felt in the emergency departments, clinical settings, psychosocial support context, in primary mental health and primary care. This means peer workers, mental health professionals and psychosocial support workers in particular are all experiencing increased levels of stress and exhaustion themselves responding to those with whom they work.

Work that will continue for some time to come, and work that requires people to employ their own self-care methods to switch off and look after their own mental health, rather than being switched on 24/7.

And this is not just in Victoria, where the second lockdown has revealed increasing presentations for mental health crises to emergency departments, increasing incidents of family violence and an increased reliance on telephone and telehealth support services.

This is across Australia, where pre-existing service fragmentation and under resourcing has been further exposed as this major stressor in our community increases.

So this week, and always, we take our hats off to those whose work right now is to walk alongside those with mental health challenges. We take our hats off knowing as we do that the increasing demand, on top of an already fragmented system, means that each day there is a risk of additional stress as they seek to support those with whom they work.  

We take our hats off to all those who are providing mental health care, and physical health care, in every community throughout Australia.

Have a good weekend.

Leanne Beagley

World Mental Health Day Healthcare Professionals Survey

Are you a healthcare professional living and working in Australia?

We would love to know more about how the pandemic has affected you personally, and what strategies you have used to maintain your mental health and wellbeing over the last six months. Your behaviours, tips and advice may provide valuable insight to the rest of the country.

Click here to take the survey and please send the link to any healthcare workers in your networks.

National survey on the impact of COVID on the mental health of people living in Residential Aged Care Facilities 

Mental Health Australia is part of a national consortium led by Swinburne University to develop and implement a survey on the impact of COVID on the mental health of people living in Residential Aged Care Facilities

The purpose of this study is to understand how COVID-19 has impacted the mental health of residents and staff and what mental health support they would like to be provided. Findings from this study will assist policy makers in Australia understand how COVID-19 has impacted mental health and what support should be provided. The survey is now live and we have begun recruiting aged care facility managers, clinical care coordinators and lifestyle team leaders to participate in the survey. Participation in the study will take approximately 10 minutes.

We would appreciate if you could send a link to the survey to anyone you know who is working in or have networks with Residential Aged Care Facilities. The link is



On Monday I have a meeting with Megan Cahill, CEO of the ACT PHN.

On Tuesday morning I’ll be meeting with colleagues at the National Mental Health Commission for our monthly catch up, followed by a similar meeting with the Department of Health later that day.

On Wednesday I’ll be taking part in the Advisory Group Meeting on the National Safety and Quality Community Mental Health Service Standards before taking part in a Vision 2030 Roadmap Advisory Committee meeting.

On Thursday I’ll be taking part in the Mental Health and Life Insurance Roundtable meeting hosted by the Financial Services Council while our Director of Policy and Research, Harry Lovelock will be attending the National Peak Bodies Bushfire Recovery Coordination Forum.

On Friday Harry will be also be attending the Third National Mental Health Workforce Strategy Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Working Group Meeting.


Embrace Multicultural Mental Health News

The Framework for Mental Health in Multicultural Australia (the Framework) is a free, nationally available online resource which allows organisations and individual practitioners to evaluate and enhance their cultural responsiveness. It has been mapped against national standards to help you meet your existing requirements, with access to a wide range of support and resources. 

We are pleased to invite you to the final webinar of a four-part series in October 2020.

The webinar will provide an in-depth look into Service Module 4 of the Framework: Building a Culutrally Responsive Workforce. This module looks at the policies and practices needed to help build a strong and culturally responsive mental health workforce across Australia.


  • When: Wednesday 14 October 2020
  • VIC, NSW, ACT & TAS: 2:00 pm
  • SA: 1:30pm
  • NT: 12:30 pm
  • WA: 11:00 pm
  • QLD: 1:00pm

Register here


Mental Health News

Mental Health Commissioner appointed for the future

Mental Health Minister, Roger Cook, says Jennifer McGrath has been appointed Mental Health Commissioner for the next five years. She will be responsible for driving the Government’s efforts to improve the mental health and wellbeing of Western Australians, including suicide prevention and reducing alcohol and other drug harms.

Read more

National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Youth Survey Report 2019

This week Mission Australia released their National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Youth Survey Report 2019. This report draws on Mission Australia’s 18th annual Youth Survey of young people aged 15 to 19 years to provide unique insight into the experiences of the 1,500 respondents who identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. 

Read more

New support for young people stressed about work and money during COVID-19

New research from ReachOut shows that the number of young people in Australia concerned about work and/or finding a job has increased from 25.0 per cent in January 2020 to 37.5 per cent in July 2020.  The nationally representative survey of 1000 young people conducted in July also found that 42 per cent of those surveyed indicated that money was one of the top issues on their mind right now.

ReachOut has released new online resources and support to help young people manage the stress they are experiencing about work and money due to the economic impacts of COVID-19.

Read more

Youth to have their say on issues that matter

Young people will have their say on the issues that matter to them as the Australian Government works towards the release of its National Youth Policy Framework. Young leaders, youth organisations and relevant government agencies are invited to provide their views ahead of the implementation of the framework which will provide a pathway of continued support for young people around Australia.

Read more

New report offers solutions to Australia’s mental healthcare crisis

A major new report examining Australia’s mental healthcare crisis has provided a comprehensive set of recommendations and reforms to help improve care for members of the community seeking mental health support, and address unsustainable pressures on hospital emergency departments (EDs). 

Read more

Telehealth extension a step towards the better future of mental health

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) has welcomed the Federal Government’s announcement to extend use of the telehealth Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) item numbers for a further six months.

Read more

Coronavirus (COVID-19) – New mental health clinics to support Victorians during the COVID-19 pandemic

This fact sheet provides information on 15 new mental health clinics being established in Victoria to provide extra support during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read more



Member Profiles

Suicide Prevention Australia
Suicide Prevention Australia In 1992, suicide prevention advocate Alan Staines returned from an international conference with an ambitious plan to establish Australia’s first national voice for suicide and suicide prevention. Today, Suicide Prevention Australia is the peak body for suicide prevention in Australia, representing over 240 Members and Associates.  We work to build a stronger suicide prevention sector, a more aware and engaged community, and a more effective regulatory and funding environment. Together we can achieve our shared vision of a world without suicide.

Converge International Ltd
With over 60 years’ experience, Converge International is one of Australia’s largest and most trusted providers of EAP, critical incident, and wellbeing services. Today we support over 2 million Australians through our extensive network of customers spanning all industries and sectors. This depth of expertise enables us to share proven insights into the world of workplace behaviour, mental health and wellbeing that build mental fitness for employees and reduce people risk for organisations.  



Supporting frontline health workers

TEN - The Essential Network is a website and app developed by Black Dog Institute that offers mental health advice, assessment and triaged support to connect health workers to the help they need, when they need it. 

Read more

Let’s celebrate young carers’ contributions in our community

National Carers Week runs from October 11-17, 2020 and is a chance to recognise and celebrate Australia’s unpaid carers and the contributions they make. This year, you are invited to host an event to give a “Shout Out” to the young carers in your community.

In Australia there are over 235,500 unpaid carers under the age of 25. Many of these young carers are juggling education alongside their caring responsibilities. By hosting an event you can show young carers that support is available.

Upon registering your event, you will receive:

  • A physical celebration kit to share with participants; and
  • Your logo will be published on the Young Carers Network website Shout Out page

Join other schools, VET providers, universities and organisations around the country to raise awareness of young carers by hosting an event during National Carers Week!

Read more

Resource for supporting Aboriginal and Torres Islander NDIS participants

The Australian Department of Social Services funded Flinders University to develop a resource to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation in the NDIS. This followed evidence of a need for culturally appropriate NDIS planning resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Flinders University worked closely with relevant groups in order to co-design and develop the workbook, and the resource is now available for download on the TPS website (in a printable PDF format for hard copy completion, and in a Word version for anyone who wants to translate it into a local language). 

Read more

SANE Lived Experience Forum Topic Tuesday

This month’s Lived Experience Topic Tuesday details:

LGBTQI & Mental Health // Tuesday 29th September 7pm - 8.30pm AEST

Many lesbian, gay, bi, queer, trans and intersex (LGBTQI) community members live fulfilling and functional lives. However, studies have found that those in the LGBTQI community face up to twice as much abuse or violence (including physical, mental, sexual or emotional) than heterosexual people. This, on top of social, environmental and psychological factors, increases the risk of mental health issues, which can lead to an increase in both depression and anxiety.

The 1.5 hour event starts at 7pm AEST on Tuesday 29th September. A SANE Forums Moderator will co-host this event - please share with your service users and staff. Everyone is welcome!

Read more

Out from the Mist photography and short film competition

Mental Illness Fellowship Australia has partnered with Out From the Mist for a second year. Previously a photography competition about mental health, the competition in 2020 now includes short movie entries of less than one minute in duration. The competition is open to photographs and short movies (under one minute) that portray the experience of mental health. 

Read more

Become a PANDA Clinical Champion

Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia (PANDA) invites health professionals working in, or passionate about, supporting peoples mental health and well-being to become a PANDA Clinical Champion. 

Clinical Champions are health professionals, researchers and clinical leaders who may or may not have their own lived experience of perinatal mental illness, who are interested in helping us shape the service system that provides care to the families who need it.

Through Clinical Champions, PANDA is offering health professionals an opportunity to broaden their impact and help us to build a community of passionate clinical leaders who work in or interact with the field of perinatal mental health. Clinical Champions may be asked to consult on a range of PANDA outputs, from public health to service design and professional development. This program will also be part of further amplifying and strengthening Community Champion voices! 

Lived experience has always been, and remains, at the heart of all that we do. To get involved you can register here.

Read more

Society for Mental Health Research virtual conference

The Society for Mental Health Research (SMHR) is hosting two FREE virtual sessions open to the public from 4:00pm - 6:00pm (AEDT) on October 6 and 8 to promote mental health research in Australia. 

SESSION ONE: COVID-19 and mental health
Tuesday, 6 October - 4:00pm - 6:00pm (AEDT)
Chair:  SMHR President, Professor Frances Kay-Lambkin
Opening: Dr Ruth Vine (Deputy Chief Medical Officer for Mental Health) 
Presentations (9 researchers x 10 minutes each)
Closing date for registration: Sunday, 4 October, 4:00pm (AEDT)

Register here
SESSION TWO:  Trends in mental health
Thursday, 8 October - 4:00pm - 6:00pm (AEDT)
Chair:  Dr Leanne Beagley (CEO Mental Health Australia)
Opening presentation: Ms Christine Morgan (CEO of the National Mental Health Commission and National Suicide Prevention Adviser to Prime Minister Scott Morrison)
Presentations by:
Prof Maree Teesson AC - #youngminds trends in mental health, drugs and alcohol
Prof John McGrath AM - Update on comorbidity in those with mental disorders
Closing date for registration: Tuesday, 6 October, 4:00pm (AEDT)

Register here

Read more

Release of Australia’s first National Suicide and Self-harm Monitoring System and website

The National Mental Health Commission and the AIHW are pleased to invite you to a sector briefing on the release of Australia’s first National Suicide and Self-harm Monitoring System and public website.

  • Date: Tuesday, 29 September 2020
  • Time: 10:15AM- 11:15AM

The new monitoring system brings together for the first time, suicide, and intentional self-harm data into a single web-based interactive and integrated platform. It has been established as part of the national effort to address suicide and self-harm in Australia and fits within the broader prevention efforts happening nationally. The website represents a key component of the broader National Suicide and Self-harm Monitoring System, which also includes data development and improvement activities, and will provide a supported analytics portal for policy evaluation, service planning and service activities by data custodians and approved users.

The system is developed by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) with the National Mental Health Commission, the Commonwealth Department of Health and an Expert Advisory Group including representation from people with lived experience of suicide, State and Territory government representatives, researchers and representatives from the suicide prevention sector including service providers.

With improved data to inform better policy and service delivery decisions, timely and effective evidence-based interventions, and support, both suicides and suicide attempts can be prevented.

Register here


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