Annual Conference

TheMHS 2015 S082: Mental Health Commissions – Translating Best Practice into Reality

By August 28, 2015 No Comments

Helen Morton – WA

The WA Mental Health Commission is a ‘commissioning’ commission: they are responsible for holding mental health funds and are able to purchase services. 

They are commissioning a number of new programs and organisations. One key reform was the establishment of a consumer-led organisation and the appointment of a Consumer Advisor on the Commission.

They have also entered into a number partnerships to help promote mental health programs in the broader community and key settings, including: Housing, Education, Justice, Mining and Sport.

Helen noted that the biggest challenge she’d come across was that of cultural change across different organisations.

Timothy Marney – WA

Tim spoke more on the WA Mental Health Commission. Importantly it is a combined body with the Drug and Alcohol Authority meaning that it has a much greater capacity to address issues of co-morbidity/co-occuring mental health and drug and alcohol issues.

Tim argued that there needs to be a shift towards funding more community support services rather than increasing hospital-based care. Historically the hospital-centric model of funding has been a result of public health services spending money on their own resources and services. The result though is that there are many people who could be discharged from in-patient facilities if only there was were more community-based services to support them. 

Moral of the story – we need to provide a better balance of services and being a “commissioning” commission has been a powerful influence on the WA Mental Health Commission’s capacity to effecti change.

John Feneley – NSW

While the NSW Mental Health Commission is not a fund-holder, John echoed many points of the other speakers and emphasised the need for system-level collaborative changes. In addition, he noted how there is a good deal of consensus on what needs to change in the mental health sector, however implementation can be very difficult given the well-known phenomenon of silos between different service systems. 

The NSW Mental Health Commission has recently completed a strategic plan for mental health in NSW which has been accepted by the NSW Government and released under the title Living Well.

Lesley Van Schoubroeck – QLD

Without the capacity to be a “commissioning” commission, Lesley says the Queensland MH Commission makes a difference by creating a vision for change and mapping the resources that are needed to make those changes. It’s essential that the Commission’s message is credible and relevant to those who can enact the changes.

David Butt – National

David says the directions we’re all going in are very much the same. You’d expect that. Now it’s a matter of implementation. There the difficulty lies because it’s going to require various system level changes initiated by government.

Panel discussion time

A key point that came out of the panel discussion was the opportunity for consumers, people working with or caring for people with mental ill health, can use the resources developed by commissions (National and State) to advocate for and demand change at their local level.