What we're doing about mental health

Almost half of all Australian adults will face mental ill-health at some point in their lives. Making sure people can access care when they need it is critical. Find out how we’re building a strong mental health system for Australia.

Get help now

In an emergency, call 000.

Help is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, anywhere in Australia. If you need help now, call:

Find a list of services that can help you right now at Head to Health.

If you need urgent care, go to the emergency department at your local hospital. If you have private hospital insurance cover, you can upgrade your cover to access in-hospital psychiatric care and receive inpatient mental health care once, before the waiting period is completed.

Policies and plans

National policies and plans helping to guide government action on mental health issues include:

The Productivity Commission has handed down its final inquiry report on mental health, following a major inquiry into Australia’s mental health systems, policies and programs.

It makes several recommendations to better coordinate our mental health system and make sure people are seeking help when they need it.

The Australian Government is giving careful consideration to the recommendations in consultation with stakeholders. Read the full Productivity Commission report and the Prime Minister’s statement.

Legislation

The Mental Health Act 1996 regulates our mental health work at the national level. This is part of the set of laws we administer on behalf of our ministers.

Each state and territory also has its own mental health legislation:

Regulation and compliance

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care develops the National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards.

These standards ensure that mental health services in hospitals and community services are of high quality.

Resources specific to mental health to support the standards include:

Online mental health services have become an integral part of mental health support.

We have asked the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care to develop the National Safety and Quality Digital Mental Health Standards, which will help make sure online services are accurate, safe and of high quality.

Initiatives and programs

We have initiatives and programs to improve the lives of people living with mental ill-health, their families, carers and communities.

These include:

Some of these initiatives are based on the 2015 review of mental health programs and services. The review highlighted the complexity, inefficiency and fragmentation of the mental health system. It made 25 recommendations to improve the way we deal with mental health.

Read the Australian Government’s response to the review, and the summary fact sheet.

Suicide is a tragedy, and often the result of mental ill-health. Read what we’re doing to prevent suicide in our community.

Making sure we provide safe environments, where mental health is understood and free from stigma is critical.   

We fund education and resources for organisations and professionals to help them support people with mental ill-health. These include:

Research

Research gives us an insight into mental health and what works or doesn’t work in tackling mental health issues.

We fund research into mental health, to help us develop effective policies and programs. This includes:

  • Medical Research Future Fund’s Million Minds Mental Health Research Mission – supports Australians who are experiencing mental ill-health to access new approaches to prevention, diagnosis, treatment and recovery
  • The Prevention Hub – a collaborative research partnership between Black Dog Institute and Everymind which implements and evaluates preventative mental health interventions in different settings
  • Young Minds Matter – the second Australian Child and Adolescent Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing
  • The National Study of Mental Health and Wellbeing, which is part of the Intergenerational Health and Mental Health Study
  • the Intergenerational Health and Mental Health Study – will provide the most complete picture ever collected of Australia's physical and mental health
  • Project Synergy – trials the effectiveness of an online system to support mental health care
  • Australian Institute of Health and Welfare – provides important statistics and analysis of Australia's mental health, mental health services and interventions at national and regional levels.

Who we work with

We work with many other organisations, including:

Last updated: 
17 March 2021

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