What’s new in mental health?

Suffice to say Beacon Strategies has had a finger in just about all pies in the public health space, but mental health emerges time and again throughout our portfolio of projects.

Recent examples include:

  • Suicide Prevention Digital Tool Scoping Project for The Alliance for Suicide Prevention Sunshine Coast to support people in the community whose role potentially brings them in contact with people at risk of suicide. 

  • Developing a Mental Health Practice Framework for Wesley Mission Queensland

  • Evaluating Open Minds’ Community Living Support (CLS) program for people with severe mental illness and complex support needs 

  • Evaluating belong’s NewAccess program which provides low intensity mental health support for people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds

  • Working with Brisbane North PHN to develop regional Suicide Prevention Care Pathways 

  • Review of Brisbane North PHN funded psychological therapies 

Mental health is a very rewarding area to work in and it is constantly evolving. In our line of work, it’s not only important for us to stay up to date with changes in government policy and planning, but we also know it’s important to share these changes with the organisations we work with and the broader community, as it impacts everyone. 

So without further ado, here is the latest and greatest in mental health

Minister Hunt announced a 3 year, $90 million Inter­generational Health and Mental Health Study, which will be rolled out by the Australian Bureau of Statistics to better inform decisions regarding both the physical and mental health of Australians. However, the term 'intergenerational' has been questioned by peak bodies given it's a one-off study. Comparable countries in the OECD run similar studies every 3-5 years.

The study is intended to help inform the Australian Government’s Long Term National Health Plan (the Plan). The plan includes: 

  • The 2030 mental health vision, including a new strategy specifically for children under 12 years

  • The 10 year Primary Health Care Plan

  • Continued improvement of private health insurance

  • The 10 year National Preventive Health Strategy

  • The 10 year Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) investment plan.

If we hone in on the mental health arm of the Plan, we can see that there is a strong focus on early intervention starting in youth, reducing stigmatisation, and suicide prevention. 

It is widely recognised that half of all symptoms of mental illness begin before the age of 14. Therefore, the Child Mental Health Strategy targets the 0-12 year old age group and aims to maintain positive mental wellbeing and prevent mental illness. In this way youth are able to receive adequate support before symptoms escalate into more severe psychiatric disorders in adult life. The Strategy is intended to provide a framework to embed protective skills in early childhood which includes creating healthy home and school environments. 

Self-stigmatisation is taking front and centre, as people’s self-consciousness about their own mental health has been identified as a major barrier to seeking help. Community settings including schools, organisations and workplaces will be used as vehicles to break down the shame around mental health challenges to encourage people to reach out.

The government is working towards a ‘zero suicide’ target and culture by adopting a whole of government approach driven by the first National Suicide Prevention Advisor, Christine Morgan. Suicide prevention will also be the next research priority for the Million Mind Mental Health Research Mission; transformative research to support one million people with mental health issues access new and innovative approaches to prevention, diagnosis, treatment and recovery. Funding of $8 million will be made available to support this research with a round to be opened for competitive application in November 2019.

Integrated, simple, accessible and comprehensive services are integral to delivering an effective mental health system. So significant federal funding is being injected into various mental health services across the country including:

  • $111 million will be invested in 30 new headspace centres 

  • $110 million will be allocated to Early Psychosis Youth Services Program

  • $114.5 million to establish eight adult mental health centres

  • $63 million for residential eating disorder centres

  • $36.7 million to expand Way Back services to support people after a suicide attempt. 

The Federal government will work towards developing new National Mental Health Partnerships with states and territories to identify individual and shared responsibilities.

So why is this important to us… 

In consulting, you have to remain at the forefront of many different areas of your field. Mental health is a nation-wide public health priority and thus a hot topic for many organisations that we work with in health and social services. Being informed about all the sectors we work across is one of our core values. Whether we are evaluating a service, scoping funding opportunities, redesigning a service model or mapping the existing service landscape, it is important to be informed of what’s happening at a local, state and national level so that the work we produce aligns with the broader policy context.  

Feel free to get in touch with us via email or social media to share your thoughts on how this shapes your work, and what you think the Australian Government’s Long Term National Health Plan means for the future of mental health.

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About Beacon Strategies - We are a mission-based health and social services consultancy committed to supporting organisations to effectively plan, design, implement and evaluate their projects and services. Reach out to Lilian Tamas (Beacon Strategies Associate Consultant) about how we can support your organisation.