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23 Sep 2019

A whole-of-government approach to mental health and suicide prevention needs to be implemented to ensure factors that impact people’s lives contribute to their wellbeing.

These factors include employment, education, housing and social justice, as well as the delivery of mental health care.

The National Mental Health Commission has released its National Report 2019 on Australia’s mental health and suicide prevention system, and it includes recommendations to improve outcomes.    

It states that the current focus on mental health and suicide prevention marks a significant turning point in Australia’s history, and is building increased awareness of the impacts of mental health from a social and economic perspective as well as from a health perspective.

The Commission’s Advisory Board Chair Lucy Brogden said there was currently unprecedented investment and interest in making substantial improvements to the mental health system. 

“Current national reforms are key, but complex, interrelated and broad in scope, and will take time before their implementation leads to tangible change for consumers and carers,” Mrs Brogden said.

“The National Report indicates while there are significant reforms underway at national, State and local levels, it’s crucial that we maintain momentum and implement these recommendations to ensure sustained change for consumers and carers.”

Commission CEO Christine Morgan said the National Report findings align with what Australians are sharing as part of the Connections Project, which has provided opportunities for the Commission to hear directly from consumers, carers and families, as well as service providers, about their experience of the current mental health system.

“What’s clear is we must remain focused on long-term health objectives. Implementation of these targeted recommendations will support this focus,” Ms Morgan said.

The NMHC identifies four key issues in the National Report 2019:

  • Key reforms – such as the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), the Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan (Fifth Plan), the work of Primary Health Networks (PHNs) in mental health, and activities in suicide prevention – are significant and are a positive step in improving the mental health system. While full implementation of these reforms will take time, the focus needs to be on ensuring their implementation leads to sustained change for consumers and carers.
  • There is a recognised need for a whole-of-government approach to mental health and suicide prevention and this needs to be implemented.
  • Investment in early intervention and prevention services is key to preventing mental health problems later in life and is cost-effective.
  • To plan for service delivery and facilitate ongoing improvement in outcomes for consumers and carers, there is a need for more

The Report makes a list of 30 recommendations aimed at bolstering the mental health system; addressing population data gaps; meeting the needs of consumers and carers; addressing social determinants; supporting PHNs; addressing NDIS access issues; and co-designing suicide prevention strategies across relevant portfolios.  

The NMHC recommendations require collaboration across the sector. As part of its ongoing monitoring and reporting role, it will work with stakeholders to identify how progress of the recommendations can be measured.

The full Report can be found at:


Published: 23 Sep 2019