CEO Update: Our mental health is finally top of mind but change must come quickly

Our mental health is finally top of mind but change must come quickly

Having worked in mental health for more than 30 years, I’ve never experienced what is happening right now, and not just in Melbourne.

At first I thought it was only with my family and circle of friends, but people are sharing the fact that it’s happening more and more. That’s right, thousands of people are talking about their mental health and wellbeing, almost like you’d talk about the weather. 

People asking someone how they are, how they are coping with COVID-19, with lockdown, with the uncertainty. This has become a pleasing norm for 2020. And if we are to take anything good out of the pandemic, then perhaps the return of community engagement and the human spirit to care for each other might just be that good thing.

Maybe it’s the shared challenge of the pandemic, coupled with years of campaigns to reduce stigma and get people talking, and seeking help, but whatever it is, it’s improving.

Tomorrow – Saturday 10 October - is World Mental Health Day and since March at Mental Health Australia we’ve been distributing messages, tips and ways for people to take action to look after themselves, and look out for others when it comes to mental health and wellbeing.

The entire campaign has been about reducing stigma around mental illness, promoting help-seeking behaviour, and fostering connectivity between communities. Connectivity at a time when many of us have found it hard to stay connected to those around us.

The “Look after your mental health, Australia” campaign has already reached more than 5 million on social media alone, and that number will only grow over the coming days.

Today, tomorrow and Sunday, planes will be flying over capital cities towing banners saying “Look after your mental health, Australia”, while thousands of Australians are expected to make and share a #mentalhealthpromise via the website this weekend.

We know these promises help to further reduce stigma and encourage positive behaviour, and we know that more and more people are having the right conversations.

Has the pandemic been the catalyst for this clear change in our community narrative about our mental health? Perhaps it has. But if the pandemic has made mental health top of mind, then we have to acknowledge the outstanding work of the many organisations, campaigns, and government initiatives over the last decade or more that have made talking about mental health and suicide prevention front of mind.

And we must acknowledge the persistent and courageous voices of people living with mental ill health and their carers and families who have reminded us over, and over, of their right to belong, their right to be safe, and their right to receive the care they need and deserve.

It is my view that these pioneers brought down the institutions and that generations of consumers and their loved ones have fought for access to community based programs to support a contributing life by sharing their stories and breaking down the barriers of stigma. I am convinced we would not be having these same open and very public conversations, debates, and even budget announcements about mental health supports a generation ago.

So with this rate of evolution I can only look forward to what World Mental Health Day will look like in the future with hope and aspiration, and also what sort of mental health ecosystem we’ll have a generation from now.

At Mental Health Australia we are actively committed to this evolution but for many people this isn’t happening fast enough. The pandemic has shown us just how important economic security is for individuals, families, and communities – particularly those who were already vulnerable. Those most disadvantaged in our community by the lack of financial security are also those who struggle the most with mental ill health.

We have all been waiting for and working for reform across the mental health system for too long and the rate of change may not be quick enough for the people living with mental illness and those who love and care for them.

Look after your mental health, Australia and look after those around you – especially the most vulnerable and alienated, those most affected by financial insecurity, those most disconnected from community supports.

A special thanks to all the partners and individuals who have supported our World Mental Health Day campaign this year, and in doing so helped reduce stigma and bring people closer together.

Happy World Mental Health Day for tomorrow and be sure to talk about mental health and wellbeing today, tomorrow, and every day.

Have a good weekend.

Leanne Beagley

Stay tuned for our more detailed thinking and analysis of the Budget

For those who missed our 2020 Federal Budget Summary this week, you can find everything you need to know at this link. And as always, our Policy Team are still pouring through the Budget Papers to provide a further Detailed Analysis for the mental health sector, which we will publish in next week’s CEO Update. Stay tuned!

Support from friends and family crucial to health workers’ wellbeing

To mark World Mental Health Day on October 10th, national peak body Mental Health Australia, has released survey results on the mental health and wellbeing of healthcare professionals across the country. The research looks at how the pandemic has affected healthcare professionals on a personal level, and what strategies they have used to maintain mental health and wellbeing over the past six months. Over 70% of healthcare professionals stated that COVID-19 restrictions have impacted their mental health and wellbeing in a negative way. 4 out of 5 say that working in healthcare during the pandemic has increased the amount of stress and pressure they experience in the workplace. 

Read the full release

Record number of partnership organisations for World Mental Health Day

More than 60 organisations will partner with the World Mental Health Day campaign this year to encourage everyone to “Look after your mental health, Australia.” From national organisations like the NRMA and Playgroup Australia, to smaller businesses like Aus-Air Australia and creative video company Good Shout, a variety of organisations will be promoting positive mental health messages to their staff and clients for the month of October, as official partners for World Mental Health Day 2020.

Read the full release



On Monday I am looking forward to SANE’s launch of the Our Turn to Speak survey which explored how stigma and discrimination affects people across many aspects of their lives, and the National Stigma Report Card.

On Tuesday, I have a meeting with Department of Health Secretary, Prof Brendan Murphy and his senior departmental team to brief them about the work of Mental Health Australia but more importantly the work of members and stakeholders across the mental health ecosystem. I will also be at the launch of the Corporate Mental Health Alliance Australia.

On Wednesday I have a meeting of the Mental Health Working Group with the Independent Hospital Pricing Authority, as well as a meeting of the National Initial Assessment and Referral Project (Expert Advisory Group).

On Thursday our Board Finance and Risk Management Committee meets, and I will also meet with Carol Bennett, CEO of Pain Australia. 

On Friday I have been invited to be guest speaker at the AGM of Spiritual Health Victoria “Looking after your mental health and feeding your soul – life through and beyond the pandemic” and I will also be meeting with the Queensland Alliance For Mental Health members. I will be chairing the National Mental Health Strategy Workforce – Rural and Remote working group.


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

Launch of the Wellbeing and Healing Through Connection and Culture Report

This week, Lifeline Australia, in partnership with The Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention, launched the Wellbeing and Healing Through Connection and Culture Report. 

Read more

Money stress ‘worse than virus’ for mental health

Financial stress during lockdown is having a greater cost on people’s mental health than exposure to COVID-19, according to a new longitudinal study from The Australian National University (ANU). 

Read more

Studying the impacts of COVID-19 on workplace mental health

Employees and employers across NSW whose mental health has been impacted by the onset of COVID-19 are being encouraged to take part in a community consultation that will help drive how the NSW Government supports people when they need help most.

Read more

COVID-19 budget responds to unprecedented levels of distress

The national peak body for suicide prevention welcomes the Federal Government’s fiscal measures announced in the budget this week but warns of ongoing severe stress and suicidal risk caused by financial hardship. 

Read more

Beyond Blue to offer mental health coaching to small business owners

Small business owners will have access to free, evidence-based mental health coaching services under a Beyond Blue initiative backed by the Federal Government. 

Read more

NACCHO emphasises the support needed to close the mental health gap

This Saturday - 10 October - is World Mental Health Day, and NACCHO is emphasising that the commitment in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap needs continued funding support to close the mental health gap. In Australia, the rate of suicide in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities continues to grow. 

Read more

AIHW: Ongoing monitoring provides greater insights into suicide among ADF personnel

This week the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) released the third annual update of information around suicide among serving, reserve and contemporary ex-serving (at least 1 day of service since 2001) Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel. 

Read more


Member Profiles

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia is the national peak organisation representing community pharmacy.  It supports community pharmacy in its role of delivering quality health outcomes for all Australians.  It strives to promote, maintain and support community pharmacies as the appropriate providers of primary health care to the community through optimum therapeutic use of medicines, medicines management and related services.   Community pharmacies exist in well-distributed and accessible locations, and often operate over extended hours, seven days a week in urban, rural and remote areas. Community pharmacists provide an array of services which extend well beyond the provision of medicines and as such, pharmacies are often the first contact point of the primary healthcare system for many people.  Some of the services offered in the context of mental health and comorbidities include Medicines Management and Quality Use of Medicines activities:

  • Medication Management Reviews (in-pharmacy, home and residential care facilities)
  • Quality Use of Medicine activities in supported accommodation facilities for people with mental ill-health
  • Dose Administration Aids
  • Staged Supply
  • Needle and Syringe Programs
  • Opioid Treatment Programs
  • Preventative health and wellbeing

The Guild recognises the importance of improving the health status of Australians and promotes equitable access to medicines and pharmacy services to all Australians, especially people with mental ill-health and those with chronic health conditions. Community pharmacists acknowledge that mental health is a high priority for Australians, and there is need to provide and facilitate support services and longer-term strategies. 

Employee Assistance Professional Assoc of Australasia

The Employee Assistance Professional Association of Australasia (EAPAA) is a National Professional Association with International Affiliation which aims to ensure the highest professional and ethical standards in EAP provision in Australasia. The role and responsibility of EAPAA is to:

  • provide guidance for quality control for EAPs in Australasia
  • define professional and ethical standards in EAP provision
  • to provide recommendations for qualifications and issues of accreditation in service provision
  • to provide information and advice to organisations with regards to standards of program design and operations
  • to promote the concept and implementation of EAPs throughout Australasian organisations
  • to support, provide research, development and training within the EAP profession to provide a forum for networking within the EAP community


Mental resilience in tough times: free virtual QUT Real Health Public Lecture

Hear from Paralympian Monique Murphy this World Mental Health Day @QUT Real Health Public Lecture focusing on how to build mental resilience in tough times.

Monique fell from a fifth-floor balcony in 2014, resulting in the amputation of her right leg below the knee. She jumped back in the pool the following year and accomplished her dream in 2016, winning a silver medal in the 400m Freestyle S10 at the Paralympic Games. As well as Monique’s incredible story, QUT mental health and neuroscience researchers will be part of a live Q&A panel to help you with tools to build resilience.

When: Saturday 10 October 10-11:30am
Where: Virtual
Cost: free

Read more and register

Prevention United webinar

Mental health nurses play a vital role in supporting people living with mental health conditions, and their carers. However, their skills extend beyond direct care. This webinar will discuss the role mental health nurses can play in mental health promotion. We will discuss the current approaches in the promotion of mental health and the prevention of mental health conditions and explore how mental health nurses can get more involved in this rapidly growing field.

Date: Wednesday 14 October
Time: 6.30-7.30pm

Read more and register

Health justice insights: legal help as mental healthcare

This paper looks at how health justice partnership uses legal help to improve client outcomes, offering one avenue for more holistic responses to compounding issues around mental ill-health that may otherwise continue to escalate.

Read more


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