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New national strategy to tackle stigma and discrimination of people with mental illness

12 Dec 2020
The National Mental Health Commission has today welcomed the announcement by Prime Minister the Hon Scott Morrison MP regarding the development of Australia’s first National Stigma Reduction Strategy for all Australians who live with mental illness.

The Commission’s CEO Christine Morgan welcomed the announcement and thanked the National Federation Reform Council for its priority commitment to Australia’s mental health and wellbeing.

“Too many Australians living with mental illness experience systemic, cultural, social, and inter-personal stigma and discrimination about their mental illness. These entrenched attitudes and responses are damaging to a person’s day-to-day health and wellbeing, and place structural and life determining barriers in front of them,” Ms Morgan said.

“2020 has delivered a wake-up call to all Australians about the fragility of their mental health and wellbeing, and the long-term impacts it can have on all aspects of your life, if it’s not looked after. We can now build upon this new level of awareness to deliver the seismic shift needed to address stigma and discrimination for people living with mental illness across all touch points in our community.”

“We are grateful to the Productivity Commission for the long awaited analysis of the way in which the mental health system functions and the social and economic impacts of mental health on every Australian. It confirms what many have known and experienced for a while, that our mental health system has evolved as part of our general health system, and it needs systemic reform,” Ms Morgan added.

“In reality, where we live, learn and work in our communities is where we experience most of our mental health and wellbeing challenges, and this is where the system response needs to be met with the right levels of coordinated and affordable support and care, with a focus on early intervention and prevention.

The Commission will lead the development of the Strategy and will commence scoping of this project in late January 2021. The Commission looks forward to working together with people with lived experience, their carers, clinicians, researchers, communities, industry and business experts to inform the strategy.

The Commission’s Chair, Mrs Lucy Brogden AM, acknowledged the urgent need to address the devastating experiences of stigma and discrimination that exist within our institutional systems.

“Stigma and discrimination of people with mental illness exist across health, social service and justice systems, and across too many areas of service delivery. Addressing these serious and damaging attitudes and systemic responses is necessary to mental health system reform in our institutional systems and in too many workplaces,” Ms Brogden said.

The Productivity Commission report into mental health was released publicly on 16 November 2020, amongst its recommendations was for the Commission to develop a national stigma reduction strategy.

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For general mental health information https://headtohealth.gov.au/