Authors: Ruth Vine, Priscilla Ennals, Julie Dempsey, Leanne Beagley
Event: 2022 TheMHS Conference
Subject: suicide prevention, reform
Type of resource: Conference Presentations and Papers
Abstract: LEAD PRESENTATION: Negotiating a National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Agreement: The road ahead
Background: Australia’s mental health system has been subject to a plethora of inquiries, plans and reports. A majority of these involved extensive consultation and resulted in recommendations for reform. In response, both the Commonwealth and state and territory governments have committed to a new National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Agreement (National Agreement) to help reform Australia’s mental health system. In order to achieve genuine national reform, what is required? How do the Commonwealth and states and territories work together and with stakeholders, including those with lived experience of mental ill health and suicide, to achieve this?
Findings: Discussions with all states and territories have shown that jurisdictions are at different stages of reform and have a range of different priorities. Reaching agreement requires a willingness to accommodate differences, while remaining consistent across broad principles.
Conclusion: Mental health reform requires sustained commitment by all governments and progressive implementation of service models that address system gaps and blockages.
PANEL PRESENTATION: Tales of a professional association resetting the occupational therapy profession to navigate mental health reform
Priscilla Ennals, Julie Dempsey
Current mental health reforms require professions to reset to effectively navigate system complexity and provide supports that are relevant and accessible to people experiencing distress, mental ill-health, and psychosocial disability. Occupational Therapy Australia has embraced this challenge by investing in a strategy called “Thinking Ahead: The Future of Occupational Therapy and Mental Health in Australia”. This presentation will describe the framing, process and outcomes of the project.
Independent research commissioned by Occupational Therapy Australia involved widespread consultation with the profession and people who use occupational therapy supports. The work was overseen by an expert advisory group that included people with a lived experience of mental ill-health, occupational therapy practitioners, academics and researchers. Almost 250 people were involved in workshops/interviews and 971 completed a survey. This generated 34 recommendations to guide Association mental health strategy on: awareness; advocacy; workforce development, capability and training; lived experience; research; and representation. Centring people with lived experience in this process was critical to support a reset and to ensure the recommendations will deliver outcomes that matter in people’s lives. Next steps include intentions to further collaborate with lived experience organisations and other professions in shaping and supporting occupational therapy in a reformed mental health system.
PANEL PRESENTATION: National Mental Health Reform - Post Election
The National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Agreement and the 2022 Federal Budget were major disappointments that failed to address the systemic issues facing the mental health sector.
In particular, there has been no long term vision to build lived experience leadership into the development and oversight of the mental health system; address the social determinants of health, expand community mental health services, appropriately fund psychosocial support services, implement an effective workforce strategy and provide rigorous government monitoring and accountability infrastructure.
At the time of writing this abstract it is only weeks away from a Federal election in which neither of the major political parties have outlined a comprehensive plan to implement mental health reform to address these issues. Whichever political party forms government they will need to address these reforms areas.
The focus of this presentation will be on identifying implementation opportunities of previously announced initiatives, new commitments, and gaps for future advocacy to progress mental health reform.
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