10. Mental health services policy…
Published in partnership with Crikey, the PromiseWatch 2013 series captures snapshots of the major parties’ platforms in key policy areas.
Before the 2010 election, the Gillard government authorised the Mental Health Commission to draft an overview of the current state of mental health care in Australia. The commission delivered its comprehensive report to Mental Health Minister Mark Butler in November 2012. As part of its investigation, the commission found the infrastructure of Australia’s mental health research was weak, especially in regards to “research and evaluation of services, treatments and programs”. Furthermore, there existed no effective implementation of evidence-based mental health services, possibly as a result of a lack of research funding.
To rectify this situation, the commission recommended that the government:
- Implement regular independent surveys of individuals’ experience of mental health services so as to measure the success of government programs;
- Increase access to mental health services from 6-8% of the population to 12%;
- Reduce use of involuntary treatment and restraint of mental health patients;
- Work with state governments to reduce the early death rate and physical health problems of those affected by mental illness;
- Specifically address the mental health problems of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people;
- Treat the issue of mental health as seriously as healthcare in general;
- Work to improve the health of families and communities so as to increase resilience to mental health problems;
- Encourage participation in the workforce of those with mental health issues and aim to match international levels of participation;
- Ensure that no patient released from mental healthcare was released into a state of homelessness and ensure access to safe accommodation; and
- Prevent suicide and work to support the mental health of those who attempt suicide.
So what are the major parties offering in response, on mental health services? Check out CPD’s research on Crikey