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:
- Lifeline – 13 11 14
- Kids Helpline – 1800 55 1800
- Mental Health Crisis Assessment and Treatment Team in your state/territory
- Beyond Blue – 1300 224 636.
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 Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan – commits all governments to integrated mental health and suicide prevention action from 2017 to 2022
- Vision 2030 – shapes a national direction for a successful, connected mental health and suicide prevention system to meet the needs of all Australians
- National Mental Health Policy – is our commitment that we will always seek to improve Australia's mental health system
- the National Mental Health and Wellbeing Pandemic Response Plan – supports the mental health of Australians during and after the COVID-19 pandemic
- the COVID-19 National Health Plan – supports the health of Australians through the COVID-19 pandemic
- the Roadmap to National Mental Health Reform – outlines the direction for governments from 2012 to 2022 to build a strong mental health system.
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.
Each state and territory also has its own mental health legislation:
- New South Wales
- South Australia
- Western Australia
- Australian Capital Territory
- Northern Territory.
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:
- National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards user guide for health services providing care for people with mental health issues
- Map of the second edition of the National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards with the National Standards for Mental Health Services.
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.
- the Head to Health website – information, advice, and free or low-cost phone and online mental health services and supports to help yourself or someone you know who needs support
- COVID-19 mental health support – to help Australians through the pandemic
digital mental health support – funding for phone and online mental health services
Primary Health Networks – face-to-face support and referrals to local support
- the Better Access initiative – Medicare rebates for mental health support, including Australians affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and who have mental health care plans
- healthdirect – easy access to trusted, quality health information and advice online and over the phone
- the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Transition Support Project – which works with Primary Health Networks and community mental health providers to streamline their NDIS processes and support clients as they move to the NDIS
- psychosocial support programs – support for people with severe mental illness
- Program of Assistance for Survivors of Torture and Trauma – specialised support services to permanently resettled humanitarian entrants and those on substantive temporary visas.
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.
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:
- Be You – resources for educators and schools to support their students’ mental health
- Australian Child and Adolescent Trauma, Loss and Grief Network – evidence-based resources and research for people working with young people affected by trauma
- National Eating Disorders Collaboration – works to prevent and manage eating disorders
- Mental Health Professionals Network – works to improve interdisciplinary mental health practice and collaborative care
- Mindframe – guides the media on reporting sensitively about suicide, mental ill-health, alcohol and other drugs
- National Communications Charter: a unified approach to mental health and suicide prevention – guides the way organisations talk about mental health, mental ill-health and suicide to reduce stigma and promote help-seeking behaviour
- E-Mental Health in Practice – raises health practitioner awareness and knowledge of digital mental health.
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:
- the National Mental Health Commission – which reports and advises on what is working and what is not in mental health and suicide prevention
- Primary Health Networks – which provide direct mental health services or can connect patients with local services
- Life in Mind – which has developed the National Communications Charter to promote common language in mental health, mental ill-health and suicide.