Summary of progress by priority area January to December 2010

Summary of progress by priority area January to December 2010

Commonwealth mental health reform efforts were progressed in 2010 consistent with the guiding principles of the National Mental Health Strategy, LIFE Framework and Australian Defence Force Mental Health Strategy. Work is also undertaken to inform government consideration of future mental health reform options as requested by COAG in April 2010 as part of National Health and Hospitals Network discussions. The following highlights key examples of activity relevant to each Fourth Plan priority area. Further information on Australian Government mental health reform efforts, including a comprehensive list of programs and initiatives, is available at the Department of health and Ageing website under Education and Prevention - Mental Health.

Priority area 1: Social inclusion and recovery

The Commonwealth progressed a number of activities in 2010 aimed at positively impacting on the recovery and social inclusiveness of people with mental illness. For example:
  • As part of the 2010/11 Budget, $58.5 million over four years was allocated for the delivery of flexible care packages, through Access to Allied Psychological Services arrangements, to better support up to 25,000 people with severe mental illness. This program will enable people with severe mental illness referred to Access to Allied Psychological Services (ATAPS) by a GP or a psychiatrist to access a package of care which is tailored to their individual needs (including their social inclusion and recovery needs).
  • In March 2010, new Disability Employment Services (DES) were introduced to deliver more effective employment assistance for job seekers with disability, including for people with a mental illness. As part of DES, CRS Australia co-ordinated health, education and employment strategies for over 17,000 people with a primary mental health diagnosis, and over 34,000 people with some form of mental illness.
  • Local Connections to Work was established in four Centrelink offices including Frankston (VIC), Campsie (NSW), Ipswich (QLD) and Elizabeth (SA), to assist disadvantaged job seekers to overcome barriers, including mental health barriers, to social inclusion and economic participation.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) continues to fund the Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service to provide counselling support to all Australian veterans, peacekeepers and their families and eligible Australian Defence force personnel. In 2009-11, services were provided to 18,718 people.
  • The Government continues to progress its White Paper on Homelessness - The Road Home: A National Approach to Reducing Homelessness - which outlines a comprehensive whole of government approach to reducing homelessness in Australia. Through the National Partnerships Agreement on Homelessness, governments are developing more integrated approaches to services, including looking at ways to better meet the needs of people with a mental illness who are over represented in the homeless population. Top of page

Priority area 2: Prevention and early intervention

Prevention and early intervention activities have been progressed across Commonwealth agencies in 2010. For instance:
  • In July 2010, the Government announced the Taking Action to Tackle Suicide strategy. Under the strategy, $274 million will be invested over four years to provide more services to those at greatest risk of suicide including psychology and psychiatry services, as well as non-clinical support to assist people with severe mental illness and their carers with their day-to-day needs; invest more in direct suicide prevention and crisis intervention, including through boosting the capacity of counselling services such as Lifeline and providing funding to improve safety at suicide 'hotspots'; provide more services and support to men – who are at greatest risk of suicide, but least likely to seek help; and promote good mental health and resilience in young people, to prevent suicide later in life.
  • In 2010, the Commonwealth worked with all jurisdictions through a National Suicide Prevention Working Group to coordinate suicide prevention activities through a national framework. The Living Is For Everyone (LiFE) Framework has been referred to Health Ministers for endorsement as the national framework to guide suicide prevention activities at national and jurisdictional levels.
  • Prevention and early intervention efforts are also being progressed as part of the National Health and Hospitals Network agreed at COAG on 20 April 2010. For example, youth friendly mental health services will be expanded through funding up to 30 new headspace sites and providing extra funding to the existing 30 headspace sites around the country. In addition, $24.8 million over four years will be provided to expand early psychosis services for young people aged 16-25 years.
  • In 2010, over 1200 frontline staff (including Centrelink social workers) within Human Services agencies completed Mental Health First Aid training or Mental Health Awareness training.
  • In 2010, having reviewed the clinical and communication effectiveness The Right Mix — Your health and alcohol website and resources, DVA implemented an information and advertising campaign to promote the Right Mix website to members of the veteran community.
  • The Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) has a number of family and children programs, including indigenous, that focus on support, prevention and early intervention for families and children at risk of or experiencing family violence, mental health issues and homelessness.
  • In 2010, the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relation's (DEEWR) Youth Connections program provided individualised case managed services to more than 20 000 young people who had disengaged or were at risk of disengagement from education. Top of page

Priority area 3: Service access, coordination and continuity of care

The following Commonwealth activities were undertaken in 2010 to progress efforts in this priority area:
  • The Better Access initiative includes a range of Medicare rebateable services for eligible people with a diagnosed mental disorder, including psychological services provided by GPs, psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, registered psychologists and appropriately trained social workers and occupational therapists. From 1 November 2006 to 31 December 2010, over 2.68 million people accessed over 16.76 million Medicare services under the initiative.
  • On 1 November 2010, the Department of Veterans' Affairs introduced statutory registration for its allied mental health providers increasing to almost 15,000 providers registered under Better Access who can automatically provide allied mental health care to eligible members of the veteran community.
  • Guidelines on the Management of Co-occurring Alcohol and Other Drug and Mental Health Conditions in Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Settings were released in February 2010. The evidence-based guidelines aim to increase AOD workers' knowledge and awareness of mental health issues, and improve their ability to identify mental health conditions.
  • In 2010, the Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA) progressed initial work on the development of a national mental health service planning framework (action 16 of the Fourth Plan).
  • The Access to Allied Psychological Services (ATAPS) program assisted consumers gain access to services and better coordination and continuity of care. Between 1 January 2006 and 30 June 2010, 113,107 people received services under ATAPS, equating to approximately 30,000 people a year.
  • The Mental Health Services in Rural and Remote Areas Program provided a flexible range of service delivery models to people in rural and remote areas who have difficulties accessing Medicare supported mental health services. Since its inception in July 2007, more than 30,000 people have accessed over 110,000 services under the Program, and more than 120 FTE allied and nursing mental health professionals have been employed. Top of page
  • The 2010-11 Budget allocated an additional $13 million over 2 years to meet claims for payments for services provided by mental health nurses under the Mental Health Nurse Incentive Program. These nurses work in private psychiatry practice, general practice and other appropriate organisations to assist people with serious mental illness to receive better coordinated treatment and care. As at 31 December 2010, 710 organisations and 802 mental health nurses have registered under the program since its inception.
  • FaHCSIA's Personal Helpers and Mentors (PHaMS) program links individuals, families and carers with appropriate support mechanisms, including employment, education and housing. As at 31 December 2010, there are 174 PHaMS sites servicing 8,091 current mental health consumers.
  • DoHA and FaHCSIA are progressing a National Carer Recognition Framework that includes the development of a National Carer Strategy. The Strategy will formally acknowledge the vital role of carers and will provide a national framework for the development and implementation of policies, programs and services for carers as well as bring together the different reform agendas that impact on carers across governments over the next 10 years. Consultations on the discussion paper Towards a National Carer Strategy were held in late 2010 in 17 locations around Australia.
  • DVA partnered with the Australian General Practice Network to develop an applied learning module that provides primary health care professionals with skills to identify, prevent, and treat veterans' mental health and physical health comorbidities. Phase 1 was successfully implemented by October with 55 workshops facilitated nationally across 48 Divisions of General Practice networks during 2010.
  • Human Services Social Workers provide crisis intervention including supporting people with a mental illness and providing support and referrals to families in crisis. Centrelink Social Workers provide services to young carers to help them negotiate the Centrelink system.
  • 58,000 Crisis Payments were provided by Centrelink to customers experiencing family and domestic violence, extreme events that resulted in the loss of their home, prison release or arrival as a refugee.
  • Centrelink provided newly arrived refugees experiencing mental illness due to torture and trauma, with referrals to counselling and other support.
  • Department of Human Services agencies work in prisons and forensic health facilities to assist people with mental heath issues transition back into the community. Top of page

Priority area 4: Quality improvement and innovation

The following are examples of Commonwealth activities progressed in 2010 to improve quality and foster innovation in mental health service provision.
  • The Commonwealth, through involvement in the Mental Health Workforce Advisory Committee, has contributed to the development of the Mental Health Workforce Strategy. The Strategy, which focuses on health and community mental health service professionals whose primary role involves treatment, care or support to people with a mental illness, will be provided to health ministers for approval in 2011.
  • The revised National Standards for Mental Health Services were released in September 2010 and provide a blueprint to guide quality improvement and service enhancement. The Standards can be applied to all mental health services, including government, non-government and private sector.
  • Through its Applied Research Program, DVA commissions research that contributes to the strategic development, implementation and improvement of veteran-related policy and service delivery. One of the Program's priorities is veterans' physical and mental health needs.
  • The Australian Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health completed an evaluation of the impact of mental health initiatives implemented by DVA between 2007-10. The report will inform improved DVA operations and the development of new mental health initiatives.
  • Around Australia, 1,169 multi-disciplinary workshops have been delivered by the Mental Health Professionals Network (MHNP) to mental health professionals. The purpose of MHPN is to support the development of interdisciplinary collaboration in the local primary mental healthcare sector. Nearly 15,000 professionals attended the workshops over an 18 month period. The MHPN continue to support nearly 500 networks of more than 4,000 mental health professionals that evolved and continue to evolve from these workshops.
  • FaHCSIA commenced a phased evaluation in 2010 on how the three COAG Community Mental Health Measures under the Targeted Community Care Program appropriately address the changing nature of community mental health and its role in the broader context of mental health service delivery. The outcomes of Phase 1 are currently with the Minister for consideration. Top of page

Priority area 5: Accountability – measuring and reporting progress

In 2010 the Commonwealth invested in a number of initiatives to monitor, assess and report on system performance and progress with mental health reform efforts.
  • On 6 December 2010, the Department of Health and Ageing released the National Mental Health Report 2010. The Report summarises trends and performance in mental health services from the start of the National Mental Health Strategy to mid 2008.
  • The Department of Health and Ageing, with the Mental Health Information Strategy Subcommittee (MHISS), worked towards filling gaps in current national data collections and developing new data methods that can be implemented in service delivery. They are reviewing the current National Mental Health Information Priorities, including in the context of the priority areas identified in the Fourth National Mental Health Plan.
  • The Department of Health and Ageing has funded the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) to scope the issues, options and work required to develop a National Minimum Data Set for the NGO mental health sector.
  • The Commonwealth coordinated the development of the third progress report on jurisdictional achievements against the COAG National Action Plan on Mental Health (2006-2011).
  • Through representation on the MHISS, the Commonwealth continued to contribute to the development of data and indicators to assist in the evaluation and monitoring of the Fourth Plan.
  • The Department of Health and Ageing provided funding to engage a consultant to develop the evaluation framework for the Fourth National Mental Health Plan.