Fourth national mental health plan: first progress report of implementation activity January - December 2010

2.3 Mental Health Information Strategy Subcommittee (MHISS)

Page last updated: 2011

The Mental Health Information Strategy Subcommittee (MHISS) is a subgroup of the MHSC and was established under the earlier governance of the MHSC predecessor, the NMHWG. The original focus was to provide a national collaborative approach in developing and implementing initiatives related to mental health information, and to provide expert technical advice and recommendations for subsequent decision on initiatives to address the information requirements of the National Mental Health Strategy.

The primary focus of the MHISS, is to provide expert technical advice and, where required, recommend policy for consideration by the MHSC rather than define policy, which remains the province of the MHSC.

Membership includes representatives from States and Territories, the Australian Government (DoHA and FaHCSIA), the private sector (nominated by the Private Mental Health Alliance) and NGO sector (represented by Community Mental Health Australia), consumers and carers, the Mental Health Council of Australia, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) and the Review of Government Services Provision (ROGSP). Official observers represent the New Zealand Ministry of Health, Australian Mental Health Outcomes and Classification Network (AMHOCN) and consultants to the Department of Health and Ageing.

Fourth national mental health plan implementation activity

Fourth national mental health plan implementation activity

MHISS was tasked with developing and implementing approaches for the Fourth Plan actions related to the development of mental health information including performance and benchmarking information, national reporting on the progress of mental health reform, public reporting of the performance of mental health services, and an evaluation of the Fourth Plan.

Additionally, MHISS has a key role in contributing to the implementation approaches for actions 4 and 27, because these are heavily information-dependent.

Action 4 - Adopt a recovery oriented culture within mental health services, underpinned by appropriate values and service models

Elements of this approach include targeted workforce development, establishment of an effective peer support workforce, and expansion of opportunities for meaningful involvement of consumers and carers.

Whilst MHWAC, SQPS and MHISS all have lead roles for this action item, MHISS is specifically involved with the meaningful involvement of consumers and carers, in the development of a consumer experiences' of care measure and a consumer self-report measure that focuses on the social-inclusion aspects of recovery. The following items summarise activity relevant to Action 4. Top of page

Measuring consumer experiences of care

In August 2010, MHISS members endorsed in-principle, a project to develop a consumers' experiences of care measure, involving the development of a new national instrument that aims to fulfil the commitment under the Fourth Plan.

Following their November 2010 meeting, MHISS also endorsed the establishment of a working group consisting of jurisdictional representatives to develop a fully costed project plan to be submitted to the Commonwealth (DoHA). The Commonwealth is currently working with the Victorian Department of Health to further refine the work plan and costings for the project. The project is expected to be completed by December 2012.

Development of a consumer self report measure that focuses on the social-inclusion aspects of recovery

In parallel with the consumer experiences of care project, the Australian Mental Heath Outcomes and Classifications Network (AMHOCN) will progress work on a consumer recovery measure. MHISS has agreed for AMHOCN to raise this at the next National Mental Health Information Development Expert Advisory Panel (NMHIDEAP) meeting with a view to presenting an options paper, focussing on the process for achieving this complementary piece of work to MHISS in 2011. Top of page

Action 27 - Ensure accreditation and reporting systems in health and community sectors incorporate the National Standards for Mental Health Services

Traditionally the National Standards were used in accreditation, but primarily in relation to public sector specialist mental health services. The focus of the revised Standards has expanded to include the non-government sector and private services and accreditation processes in these sectors do not currently incorporate the National Standards in their review tools.

SQPS have the lead on this action item however MHISS has an interest due to the data development required to underpin the work. Implementation activity to date includes:
  • A National Standards Implementation Strategy and Plan was developed in 2010 and will provide guidance for jurisdictional implementation
  • SQPS is working with MHISS on strategies for monitoring and reporting against the Standards and
  • An accreditation workshop was held in December 2010 to begin scoping some of the issues associated with monitoring reporting against the Standards. Top of page

Action 28 - Further develop and progress implementation of the National Mental Health Performance and Benchmarking Framework

Key Performance Indicators for Australian Mental Health Services: Technical Specification Review


A mental health performance framework for evaluating public sector mental health services, developed by the Australian and state and territory Governments, was released in 2005 in the Key Performance Indicators for Australian Public Mental Health Services Report.

The National Mental Health Performance Subcommittee (NMHPSC) is presently reviewing the technical specifications of the current National Key Performance Indicator (KPI) set which will enable a second edition of the document to be published in 2011. A database of current Key Performance Indicators for Mental Health Services, with data specifications and sources is now available on the Mental Health Standing Committee website.

The NMHPSC has also conducted three jurisdictional surveys on the status of implementing the National Mental Health Performance Framework and National KPIs into public mental health services. The third survey was completed in 2010. The purpose of the surveys was to inform the NMHPSC of the jurisdictional progress, including barriers and solutions and utility of the KPI set to inform future development. The MHSC requested a web based publication summarising implementation activity be prepared for release in the first half of 2011. Top of page

Indicators and targets for the fourth plan

MHISS requested the NMHPSC prepare a measurement strategy document that describes the arrangements for delivering on all 25 indicators in the Fourth Plan. The NMHPSC submitted the draft document to the MHSC October 2010 meeting for noting on progress. A further draft was submitted through MHISS to the MHSC 11 February 2011 meeting and is being progressed out of session for final endorsement.

National mental health benchmarking project

All jurisdictions in Australia have recognised the need to facilitate benchmarking practices within the mental health sector, and have committed to the expansion of the National Mental Health Performance Framework to support quality improvement within public mental health services.

An evaluation of the project was overseen by the NMHPSC. The National Mental Health Benchmarking Project Evaluation Report was finalised late 2009 and endorsed by MHISS in November 2009. The report is currently being printed for distribution. Top of page

Action 31 - Establish comprehensive, timely and regular national reporting on the progress of mental health reform which responds to the full range of stakeholder needs

National Mental Health Report (NMHR)

The National Mental Health Report (NMHR) 2010 was launched by the Minister for Mental Health and Ageing on 6 December 2010. The Report focuses on progress of the National Mental Health Strategy across the period 1993 to 2008, covered by the First, Second and Third National Mental Health Plans.

Stakeholders have argued strongly for more independent and transparent reporting on mental health reform, and called for a greater role by the Commonwealth in this area. In response to this demand, the Fourth Plan foreshadowed a newly designed NMHR from 2011 that will monitor progress against the Plan's new outcome oriented set of indicators and include independent commentaries from stakeholders.

A proposal covering the design and content of the new NMHR is currently being prepared within the relevant AHMAC committees and is expected to be submitted for endorsement by the AHMC early in 2011. The NMHR 2011 is to be prepared by the Australian Government, but will be auspiced as an AHMC publication, prepared collaboratively with the States and Territories. Top of page

Mental health services in Australia (MHSIA) report

The MHSIA 2007-08 Report was released on 12 August 2010. The report provides detail on expenditure on State and Territory mental health services along with analyses of services provided, workforce numbers and Medicare usage – both medical and pharmaceutical.

In 2011, the MHSIA will become an online report supported by a 30-40 page hard copy summary document from the 2008-09 edition. The MHSIA hard copy summary document will follow a similar format to the recently released Australia's hospitals 2008-09 at a glance publication.

Presently, MHSIA is on track for an end of May 2011 release of the summary document, with successive uploading of material as it becomes available via State and Territory data set submission.

COAG national action plan on mental health 2006-2011 progress reports

The 2nd Annual COAG Progress report 2007-2008 is available publically on the COAG website.

The 3rd Annual COAG Progress report 2008-2009 has been completed and endorsed by HPPPC and is presently awaiting AHMAC endorsement. Work is now commencing on the 4th Annual COAG Progress report. Top of page

Action 32 - Build an accountable service delivery system that monitors its performance on service quality indicators and makes this information available to consumers and other stakeholders

The Fourth Plan outlines that accountability at the service delivery level will be strengthened by the introduction of systems of public reporting by service organisations on key performance measures. This will be progressed as part of broader initiatives to establish a culture of continuous quality improvement within service delivery systems that revolve around benchmarking and consumer and carer involvement.

The second part to the 27 July 2010 election commitment on Taking Action to Tackle Suicide concerned a commitment to introduce nationally consistent local reporting on the performance of mental health services by Medicare Locals and Local Hospital Networks. This is aimed at providing the Australian public with more timely, easy to comprehend information about the type, quality, safety and availability of mental health services on a local and national level.

A public reporting working group, sitting under MHISS, developed a draft implementation strategy for introducing public reporting on performance indicators by State and Territory mental health services. Together with the new National Mental Health Report, the future reporting arrangements offer opportunities to strengthen accountability and transparency. Top of page

Action 33 - Further develop mental health information, including national mental health data collections, that provide the foundation for system accountability and reporting

The Fourth Plan states that the solid information foundation developed over the past decade requires continuing collaborative effort between governments to keep data sources up to date, as well as fill gaps in current national collections.

National Mental Health Information Priorities 3rd Edition

The Fourth Plan commits to the development of the National Mental Health Information Priorities 3rd Edition. To advance the work, the Commonwealth (DoHA) is drafting the 3rd edition document that will be used as the basis to initiate consultation with stakeholders.

The drafting group met face-to-face on 15 March 2010 to discuss a work plan and systematically reviewed Part 4 of the 2nd Edition – National Priorities for Mental Health Information Development and decided what needed to be removed, altered or added to the current 42 priorities.

The Commonwealth anticipates that the revision process will be completed for discussion and endorsement at the MHISS and MHSC meetings in mid 2011. Top of page

Mental health non government organisation (NGO) national minimum data set (NMDS) project

The Mental Health NGO NMDS Project Proposal outlines the process for the development and implementation of the proposed mental health NGO NMDS and how it might proceed in a timely manner whilst minimising the potential resource burden on the mental health NGO sector and other stakeholders involved.

At the August MHISS meeting, members discussed the project and draft scoping report provided by the Australian Institute for Health and Welfare (AIHW). MHISS provided feedback and requested that AIHW develop a more detailed project proposal relating to the collection and reporting of 'input' and 'output' data about the activities of mental health NGOs at a national level for consideration at the November MHISS meeting.

The AIHW provided a project concept brief to MHISS in November 2010 which was endorsed in principle. The AIHW is scheduled to commence drafting the Data Set Specifications and form a Cross- Sectoral Working Group in March 2011, with the aim of finalising the NGO NMDS in late 2012 and progressing data collection in 2013-14.

Mental health intervention classification (MHIC) 09 pilot study

The development of a Mental Health Intervention Classification (MHIC) 09 is based on a reappraisal study of the MHIC 06, which reflected the need for a standardised approach to the collection of national information on mental health interventions. The AIHW was commissioned to conduct the reappraisal to identify the way forward for the national collection of mental health interventions data which was designed to be provider neutral; be logical; and provide a pragmatic system for routine data collection.

A MHIC 09 proof of concept study was conducted at a pilot site in early 2010, and findings from the study were presented to MHISS in August 2010. AIHW were then asked to develop a project proposal for a wider MHIC pilot study, conducted across jurisdictions and mental health settings. The project proposal was presented to MHISS at its November 2010 meeting and endorsed in principle. The AIHW is scheduled to commence the pilot studies in June 2011 with a final report due in January 2012. Top of page

Action 34 - Conduct a rigorous evaluation of the fourth national mental health plan

The foundations for the evaluation of the Fourth Plan will be laid in the development of indicators and data collections and through the annual National Mental Health Report series. It will also draw on a number of additional sources, including the experiences of care, families and carers, and the broader community.

To progress this work DoHA has engaged a consultant and an evaluation framework is expected to be delivered by July 2011.