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Commission welcomes whole-of-governments, whole-of-community, whole-of-life approach

03 Nov 2021

The National Mental Health Commission (the Commission) has today welcomed the Final Report from the House Select Committee on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, acknowledging the priority areas of focus needed to achieve national mental health and suicide prevention systems reform.

The Commission said the Report is a timely reminder of the fundamental areas that must be improved to ensure the delivery of the core components that are key to mental health and suicide prevention reform for the nation.

Alongside thanking the Committee for their deliberations, the Commission also thanked people with lived and living experience, and the broader mental health and suicide prevention sectors for their evidence and submissions to the Inquiry and their strong representations about the key issues and approaches required for systemic reform of mental health and suicide prevention in Australia.

This commitment is reflected in the 44 recommendations made by the Committee, which the Commission looks forward to reviewing in more detail in the coming weeks. In particular, the Commission has welcomed:

  • The focus on the impact of natural disasters and the COVID pandemic on the national psyche and the need for strong measures to combat associated mental health impacts, including anxiety, trauma and suicidal ideation
  • The barriers and identified priority reforms across the mental health and suicide prevention sectors that must be addressed, including holistic improvement in the social determinants across the community that negatively impact mental health and wellbeing
  • The desire to diversify the service offerings from governments and the mental health and suicide prevention sectors, to include a greater focus on the individual, and their community support structures
  • Expansion across service delivery, particularly in regard to digital mental health and crisis support services
  • The need for early intervention and the role of a whole of life approach to better mental health outcomes
  • The attention given to strengthening regional collaborative planning and funding/service commissioning arrangements
  • An acknowledgment of the importance of the mental health workforce, the impact of workforce shortages, and in particular, the role of the mental health and suicide prevention Lived Experience (peer) Workforce
  • The focus on the vital role of carers and the need to support their wellbeing' to reflect the highlighted recommendations around respite and recognising the dual lane reality of families being both supports and heavily impacted by their role
  • The role of research, data and appropriate monitoring and evaluation of mental health and suicide prevention intervention, services, systems and treatment approaches, and
  • The acknowledgement of the work needed to ensure meaningful improvement in the social and emotional wellbeing of vulnerable groups, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, young Australians, people living in rural and remote settings, and the LGBTIQ+ and sex and/or gender diverse communities.

The Commission made two submissions to the Inquiry and appeared on a number of occasions to assist the Committee to make achievable and appropriate recommendations, including the overarching need for a whole of government, whole of community, whole of life approach to mental health and suicide prevention as well as a determined focus on improving the associated workforces.

The focus of this reform must begin with those individuals experiencing mental ill health or suicidal ideation at the centre, as well as their families, carers and loved ones, with services and policy development structured around them, their experiences and care needs. This reflects the Commission’s focus on the Contributing Life Framework and our Vision 2030 Strategy.

The Commission looks forward to working with governments, industry and the mental health and suicide prevention sectors to review the recommendations from the Report and assist with their implementation as part of our role in monitoring and reporting on investment in system reform; to provide strategic advice to Government; and be a catalyst for change, as mandated by the Australian Government.