The vision of the National Mental Health Policy 2008 is for a mental health system that:
- enables recovery
- prevents and detects mental illness early
- ensures that all Australians with a mental illness can access effective and appropriate treatment and community support to enable them to participate fully in the community.
The aims of the National Mental Health Policy 2008 are to:
- promote the mental health and well-being of the Australian community and, where possible, prevent the development of mental health problems and mental illness
- reduce the impact of mental health problems and mental illness, including the effects of stigma on individuals, families and the community
- promote recovery from mental health problems and mental illness
- assure the rights of people with mental health problems and mental illness, and enable them to participate meaningfully in society.
- the National Mental Health Policy
- the First National Mental Health Plan
- the Mental Health Statement of Rights and Responsibilities
- a funding agreement between the Commonwealth and the states and territories.
While the first plan emphasised structural changes in where and how mental health services were delivered, subsequent plans have broadened the approach to give a stronger focus on partnerships between different sectors, inclusion of promotion, prevention and early intervention activity, and a greater emphasis on the roles of consumers and carers. Workforce issues have been given greater prominence, as has the importance of research, innovation and sustainability. Previous plans have been linked to funding through the Australian Health Care Agreements. Each of the plans has undergone evaluation. In addition, the Strategy led to nationally endorsed safety priorities, an information development plan and development of National Standards for Mental Health Services and Practice Standards for the Workforce.
In 2006 the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) responded to the growing recognition of the scale and significance of mental health issues and the importance of areas such as housing, employment, justice, community and disability support to enhance recovery from mental illness. The Council agreed that further effort was required to overcome historical boundaries between jurisdictions, and to better engage government portfolios to bring a whole-of-government focus to mental health reform. The resulting National Action Plan on Mental Health 2006-2011 brought a whole-of-government approach to mental health and included significant new investment and an emphasis on care coordination and governments working together. A number of jurisdictions have created new ministerial portfolios or departmental responsibilities to support this renewed emphasis on reform in mental health. Individual jurisdictions have developed mental health plans tailored to local issues or challenges, but consistent with the overarching directions of reform set by the national strategy. There has also been increased policy attention to related areas such as homelessness, social inclusion, and employment support. Top of page
As illustrated in the figure below, there is a complex interplay between areas of government endeavour in the provision of mental health services, and other services that impact on the lives of those with mental illness and contribute to their stability and recovery. This figure does not include detail regarding areas of additional work that has occurred over the life of the National Mental Health Strategy, and which continues to inform policy and service development. These areas include work on:
- National Mental Health Service Standards
- National Practice Standards
- Promotion, Prevention and Early Intervention
- Forensic Mental Health Principles.
The National Mental Health Policy 2008 acknowledges our Indigenous heritage and the unique contribution of Indigenous people's culture and heritage to our society. Furthermore, it recognises Indigenous people's distinctive rights to status and culture, self-determination and the land. It acknowledges that this recognition and identity is fundamental to the well-being of Indigenous Australians It recognises that mutual resolve, respect and responsibility are required to close the gap on indigenous disadvantage and to improve mental health and well-being.
The strategic framework provided by the National Mental Health Policy 2008 is deliberately aspirational. It should be viewed as a broad agenda to guide coordinated efforts in mental health reform over the next decade. The Policy will be operationalised and implemented through the development of national plans and those developed by individual jurisdictions. Top of page
Milestones in the development of the National Mental Health Strategy, 1991-2008
Pre First National Mental Health Plan Medicare Agreements
March 1991Australian Health Ministers agree to the Mental Health Statement of Rights and Responsibilities
April 1992Australian Health Ministers agree to the National Mental Health Policy
July 1993 - June 1998: First National Mental Health Plan Medicare Agreements
July 1993National Mental Health Strategy incorporated in 5 year Medicare Agreements
March 1994First National Mental Health Report released
December 1997Evaluation of First National Mental Health Plan released
April 1998Australian Health Ministers agree to the Second National Mental Health Plan
July 1998 - June 2003: Second National Mental Health Plan Australian Health Care Agreements
June 1998Second National Mental Health Plan commences and is incorporated in 5-year Australian Health Care Agreements
November 2001International Mid-term Review of the Second Plan released Top of page
April 2003Evaluation of the Second National Mental Health Plan released
July 2003 - June 2008: Third National Mental Health Plan Australian Health Care Agreements
July 2003National Mental Health Plan 2003-2008 released
August 2003Australian Health Care Agreements 2003-2008 signed
July 2006COAG National Action Plan on Mental Health 2006-2011 signed
2008National Mental Health Report 2007 released
2008National Mental Health Policy revised with whole of government focus
20082003-2008 National Mental Health Plan summative evaluation Top of page
Figure: Mental health and broader policy framework
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Text version of figure: Mental health and broader policy frameworkThis diagram is in the form of a building where:
- the roof is whole of government national reform including social inclusion
- the left wall comprises ministerial councils:
- Community and disability services
- Education, employment, training and youth
- Corrective services
- Drug strategy
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs
- the right wall comprises policy areas:
- children and youth
- suicide prevention
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders
- healthy ageing
- chronic disease
- the centre of the building shows components of the National Mental Health Strategy:
- COAG National Action Plan on Mental Health
- National Mental Health Policy
- Commonwealth state health funding
- National Mental Health Plan
- Mental Health Statement of Rights and Responsibilities
- State and territory mental health plans and frameworks
The components of the National Mental Health Strategy are connected with each other as follows:
- The National Mental Health Policy has two-way links with National Mental Health Plan and Mental Health Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, and a one-way link from COAG National Action Plan on Mental Health.
- In addition, National Mental Health Plan has two-way links with Mental Health Statement of Rights and Responsibilities and state and territory mental health plans and frameworks; and a one-way link from Commonwealth state health funding.
- In addition, Mental Health Statement of Rights and Responsibilities has a two-way link with state and territory mental health plans and frameworks.