Mental Health Safety and Quality Engagement Guide

A word from the National Mental Health Commission’s Chief Executive Officer

The Mental Health Safety and Quality Engagement Guide is a welcome and practical addition to Australia’s investment in consumer and carer engagement and participation in the development and delivery of mental health services. It is a priority action under the Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan.

The role of consumers and carers in the design, delivery and evaluation of mental health services is critical. There must be dynamic and viable partnerships between service users, service providers and service leaders. The Mental Health Safety and Quality Engagement Guide is a practical tool aimed at empowering mental health consumers and carers, health service leaders and service providers to engage in meaningful partnerships to improve the safety and quality of mental health services.

The Commission was pleased to lead the collaboration on this document with the National Mental Health Consumer and Carer Forum, and the National Safety and Quality Partnership Standing Committee.

The Guide focuses on participation by consumers and carers at a governance level recognising the importance of lived experience influencing strategic decision-making and systemic change.

The Guide provides practical information about how consumers and carers can navigate the process, how health service leaders can ensure a culturally appropriate, welcoming space for a diverse range of consumer and carer representatives, and how to develop and foster a positive partnering environment.

For consumers and carers the Guide includes information on how to get engaged, understand your role, build a network, establish a mentor and manage self-care. For health service leaders and providers, the Guide provides information on supporting diversity, creating a safe environment and the role of leaders.

The development, delivery and evaluation of mental health services that put individuals first requires strong partnership between consumers and carers, health service providers and health service leaders. As we continue to encourage and support positive partnerships and collaborative efforts we will be working to ensure significant improvements for all.

Christine Morgan

CEO, National Mental Health Commission

Christine Morgan

Our thanks

We acknowledge and thank everyone who has contributed to the development of this guide through sharing their experiences as part of the national consultation, and those who agreed to have their words included throughout the guide.

We acknowledge the support and guidance of the members of the Advisory Committee: Lynette Anderson, Chris Gibbs, Bill Gye, Kerry Hawkins (co-chair), Darren Jiggins, Eileen McDonald, Naomi Poole, Hayley Solich, Carol Turnbull, Kylie Wake and Terri Warner.

We also acknowledge and thank Kirsty Baker, Dr Monika Ferguson, Dr Mark Loughhead and Professor Nicholas Procter from the Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Research Group, University of South Australia for assisting in the production of this guide. The team ran a national consultation process to inform the Guide and drafted most of the written content.

Last updated:

Acknowledgement of Country

The Commission acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands throughout Australia.
We pay our respects to their clans, and to the elders, past present and emerging, and acknowledge their continuing connection to land, sea and community.


The Commission is committed to embracing diversity and eliminating all forms of discrimination in the provision of health services. The Commission welcomes all people irrespective of ethnicity, lifestyle choice, faith, sexual orientation and gender identity.

Lived Experience

We acknowledge the individual and collective contributions of those with a lived and living experience of mental ill-health and suicide, and those who love, have loved and care for them. Each person’s journey is unique and a valued contribution to Australia’s commitment to mental health suicide prevention systems reform.