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Australia’s mental health and wellbeing a national priority

The National Mental Health Commission has congratulated Minister Greg Hunt on his reappointment as Minister for Health.

On the eve of the new government being sworn in by the Governor-General, Minister Greg Hunt and the commission’s CEO, Christine Morgan, met to confirm the strategic priorities for mental health and wellbeing in Australia.

The Minister confirmed that the Prime Minister’s urgent priority was to address the current prevalence of youth mental illness and suicide prevention, with the commission playing a leading role in this response.

The Minister also affirmed the commission’s leading role in providing the strategic direction for Australia’s mental health and wellbeing policy.

National Mental Health Commission chair Lucy Brogden said the commission plays an integral role in assisting the federal government by monitoring and reporting on its investments in mental health and suicide prevention, and by being a catalyst for change to achieve improvements. Targeted, effective and efficient investment is the aim of all investment in mental health and suicide prevention.

She said the commission is also committed to a whole-of-government approach to future investment and decision-making across all the social determinants of mental health and wellbeing.

“The mental health and wellbeing of all Australians is a key pillar of this country’s prosperity,” Mrs Brogden said.

“The government’s significant commitment to mental health outlined in the 2019 federal budget and during the federal election has signalled to all Australians the importance the government holds for their mental health and wellbeing.”

Key priorities announced by the government, and supported by the commission, include the National Suicide Information Initiative, Youth Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, the National Mentally Healthy Workplace Initiative and the mental health workforce development. Initiatives will include further development of the Headspace network, piloting of new service models around the delivery of adult mental health services within community hubs, and the establishment of residential programs for eating disorders.

These are some of Australia’s most significant investments in the coordination of youth and adult mental health, suicide prevention, the provision of intensive multidisciplinary treatment and social support services. Co-design, evaluation frameworks and monitoring and reporting will help ensure they provide easy access and evidence-based services that meet the needs of Australians,” added Mrs Brogden.

“The commission is developing the vision for a future where the system works – where any Australian at risk of, or with a mental health challenge or illness, across their lifespan, has access to the treatment, structures and social supports that will ensure effective person-centred treatment, sustainable recovery and the opportunity to contribute to socially and economically thriving communities.”

The commission’s CEO, Ms Morgan, said the commission will listen to the voices of lived experience, service providers, mental health research, clinical and social systems experts and other stakeholders across the country in bringing together this vision.

“These voices will inform our priorities, our work and our opportunities to assist government in delivering on its commitment to the mental wellbeing of all Australians,” she said.

“Access to quality mental health services and programs, regardless of your age, postcode, social or financial situation, is a tenet of our health system. Our mental health system needs to address the barriers to access and ensure that affordability and geography are not barriers to wellness.

“We still have gaps in our current system and inconsistencies in the delivery of connected support at all levels of need. The commission will focus on the gaps in our national approach, the quality of evidence, and will ensure that we are all accountable in delivering measurable impacts,” concluded Ms Morgan.

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