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National Mental Health Research Strategy

The need for a national strategy

Research plays an important role in ensuring that people living with mental illness can access services that are effective, evidence-based and achieve positive outcomes. However, the Commission’s 2014 Contributing Lives Review identified significant problems with the mental health research environment in Australia.

The Review found that research was being carried out in isolation from mental health strategic objectives, and was not sufficiently driven by the needs of practitioners and people with mental illness. There was also a haphazard approach to using the evidence gathered through research to build better services.

The Commission suggested that there was a need to strategically align mental health research funding priorities with the needs of policy makers, services, professionals, people with lived experience and supporters.

Developing a national strategy

Based on the findings of the Contributing Lives Review, the Commission has been tasked under the Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan with developing a research strategy to drive better outcomes across the mental health sector in Australia.

The Commission will be working in collaboration with consumers and carers, states and territories, research funding bodies and prominent researchers to develop the strategy.

The strategy is due to be completed by 2021.

Progress to date

The Commission has established a Steering Committee to oversee the development of the strategy, and an Expert Advisory Committee to provide advice on research-specific issues.

A gaps analysis using data on Australian publications and grants over the last 20 years was commissioned to inform the development of the strategy. The final report from this work was delivered in January 2020.

Building on the gaps analysis, the Commission convened an invitation-based workshop in early 2020. The purpose of the workshop was to identify current gaps, challenges and opportunities in specific domains related to mental health. The workshop brought together stakeholders from academia, governments and research funding bodies, along with mental health consumers and carers, to work collaboratively on shaping the strategy’s content and recommendations.

The NMHC commissioned ORIMA Research to prepare the qualitative analysis of the National Mental Health Research Strategy workshop report. The final report from this work was delivered to the NMHC in June 2020 and will inform development of the strategy.