We want to build a picture of the Mental Health common ground, We Ask You…

During recent weeks mental health has emerged from shadows of media oblivion. We want to know your opinion. We have scoured recent news to reveal many layers of opinions, evidence and viewpoints. What is the evidence? What opinions do you agree with?

Are the health reforms plans being too rushed?

The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association supports the reforms but is concerned that time frames are unrealistic and are disappointed at the lack of consultation with consumers. The association’s chief executive, Prue Power, said the most critical element in implementing the new structure of local hospital networks and Medicare locals, and one which had not yet been detailed in the plan, was the integration of patient care between the community and hospital sectors. Carol Bennett of the Consumers Health Forum wants more details as the proposed reforms are still embryonic. The Minister Nicola Roxon says that already COAG provides details, data and analysis in their reports. Taken from: Mark Metherell, Sydney Morning Herald (P4: 9/7/10)

Are youth a priority? How can anyone disagree? Are we being drawn into a political bidding war? How can we invest in mental health across the lifespan?

The Australian of the Year, Pat McGorry, says that the mental health field is united as never before in advocating a sustained plan of reform and investment across a broad spectrum. He further adds that across Australia: there is consensus that we need a serious 10-year reform strategy with bipartisan support, yet with a finite set of priority areas and targets that can be measured. Already the National Health and Hospital Reform Commission has recommended 12 priorities – McGorry adds 2 more: community mental health and mental health research. Youth mental health and early intervention for psychosis are at the top of this list of priorities. One of the major problems for youth has been access to services. Stemming the tide of new disability (of mental disorder in youth) is a priority. Taken from: Pat McGorry, The Australian (P12: 9/7/10)

Is current debate about national mental health strategy too narrowly focussed on the young? Where are the supported housing and social recovery and vocational programs?

Although it is well known that three-quarters of mental illnesses begin before the age of 25, young people grow older and usually carry their mental illness through adulthood and into late life, says Vaughn Carr, professor of psychiatry, University of NSW. He states that the evidence is not in, with regard to the longer-term effects of early psychosis intervention. And what about inpatient and community mental health services? Even the best community mental health services need access to good quality hospital-based facilities. Already, in some areas a community mental health service comprises an adolescent team, an early psychosis intervention team, a youth service team, a rehabilitation team and an acute care community team. Taken from: Vaughn Carr, The Australian (P12: 8/7/10)

What do past and current reports on mental health tell us? Can government reports be implemented? How? What if we disagree with them? How will the appointment of a mental health commissioner benefit people with mental illness?

According to ABC News, the West Australian Minister for Mental Health, Dr Graham Jacobs, announced plans for sweeping reform of the state’s mental health sector. It also stated that Dr Jacobs has released a consultation paper, ‘WA Mental Health Towards 2020’. Submissions on the consultation paper close on the 29th of September. However local mental health professionals say that what is needed is more money not more reports. Professor Paul Skerritt says there is a desperate need to fund community mental health services better to ensure the mentally ill are not forced into an already-stretched public hospital system. What we really need is proper community services, he said. The WA Association for Mental Health believes a clear, long-term plan is important but will achieve little unless it is driven by strong leadership and they await the announcement of the mental health commissioner. Taken from: ABC NEWS, 7/7/10

Where is our common ground? How can we move forward together to develop, deliver and evaluate good mental health care in Australia?


One thought on “We want to build a picture of the Mental Health common ground, We Ask You…

  1. One part of our common ground was on show in Melbourne last month, where more than 200 representatives of more than 100 organisations delivering Commonwealth (FaHCSIA)-funded services to people with mental illness across Australia came together. The verdict was clear–these are great new programs that are proving to be life changing for thousands of people and their families. A wide-ranging independent evaluation showed huge reductions in hospitalisation, increased social engagement, and much improved coordination of services. This is real health reform, giving people with chronic mental illnesses a real chance to recover a proper place in society.

    These social supports, in programs such as Personal Helpers and Mentors and Respite Care, are well designed, well delivered, and proven. But by the Government’s own estimates, they are only reaching less than 10,000 of the 50,000 people who need them.

    So surely there’s our common ground–we need action for the 40,000 Australians who can’t access the services we know they need. Let’s get on with it.

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