The Commission is committed to driving transformational change through mental health reforms that will help achieve an Australia where all people have the opportunity to be supported to lead contributing lives in socially and economically thriving communities.
This year we have already seen significant additions and collaborations in the mental health sector. I am encouraged by groups and individuals we have seen working together towards a better system for all Australians. Last month, we launched the first Mental Health Safety and Quality Engagement Guide which includes practical information for consumers and carers, service provides and health leaders who would like to improve their processes. Earlier this week we also launched the Our Stories report from the National Disaster Mental Health and Wellbeing Framework, which shares research from community stories in disaster-effected areas and will inform the final Framework piece. Consistent with the Commission’s long-held position on collaboration and connected research with lived experience at its heart, we welcomed the new $10M NHMRC funded research project ALIVE to be led by the University of Melbourne, along with 14 other universities and partner organisations.
One of the other foundational pieces for national mental health reform was released in early March, the final report in the Royal Commission into Victoria's Mental Health System. This is a significant body of work which again was informed by the courageous voices of people with lived experience of mental ill-health. We were pleased to see the number of recommendations that align with Vision 2030.
I know many of us faced a challenge with the Facebook restrictions that were briefly imposed last month and temporarily disabled a number of mental health service and health provider pages. Fortunately, we were able to collaborate quickly with sector leaders and organisations to work with Facebook to get these pages reinstated. We shared a list of organisations that required visibility on social platforms from a safety perspective with the platform providers to help them prevent future disruption to service. Thank you to everyone who joined our response so quickly to help ensure Australians have continued access to support via as many platforms as possible.
Collaborating and connecting is such a vital part of making sure all voices are heard in mental health reform, and consultations are a key part of our work at the Commission. Throughout this year we aim to create many opportunities to engage with and listen to those with lived experience and people across the sector who lead service provision or deliver on the frontline. These voices will help shape our projects, direction and reform. We look forward to sharing these opportunities and the outcomes of this process.
Mental Health Safety and Quality Engagement Guide launched
Last month the Commission released the first Mental Health Safety and Quality Engagement Guide to empower and support consumers and carers and our mental health workforce to engage in meaningful partnerships, to improve the safety and quality of mental health services.
The development of the Guide included feedback from consumers, carers, families and kinship groups on a community level.
Our Stories: Beyond the Disaster
Last year, we engaged community-based researchers to capture stories from people with lived experience of disasters in fire-effected Bega Valley and Monsoon-effected areas of Queensland. We have collated these experienced and launched the Our Stories research report which will inform the development of the final Framework piece.
Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System
Last month, we welcomed the Final report and its 65 recommendations from the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System, acknowledging that a number of these are strongly aligned to Vision 2030, and represent significant reforms to improve the mental health and wellbeing system.
Read our response and learn more about the reccommendations.
International Women's Day
Each year, International Women's Day is an important reminder to celebrate the women in our lives. The challenges caused by natural disasters and COVID-19 have made the last 12 months particularly difficult for many, across many touch points of their lives – the culmination of these has increased levels of distress and help seeking. In recognition of the increased caring role that many women play, this International Women's Day, we #ChooseToChallenge women, especially those who are caring for others, to make time to take positive steps towards mental wellbeing. Mental health does not discriminate, if you, or someone you know, would like support, visit headtohealth.gov.au.
The Australian National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing
The NSMHW will be the first time we have comprehensively asked Australians about their mental health since 2007, and will be vital for planning services at the local level. Data collection for the Study began in December 2020, so increased information could be obtained during the pandemic, as well as after it.
Up to 17,000 Australians aged 16 to 85 will take part in the Study, with the first results expected by the end of 2021.
International Day of Happiness
March 20 marks International Day of Happiness and as we navigate through a global crisis, this day is a reminder that there are positive ways to look after ourselves and others. This year, the theme highlights three positive steps we can take when facing difficult times. "Keep calm. Stay wise. Be kind."
There are a number of great resources and ways to get involved on the website.