The 2015 Happiness and Its Causes Conference is rapidly approaching, get your ticket to this exciting event today. Over the past 10 years, Happiness & Its Causes has been a forum for exploring the many and varied causes for a happy and fulfilling life. Hear from the world's brightest minds in psychology, science, education, business, religion and the arts and package it into an unforgettable two days. More details are available from the website.
Anglicare Australia released their annual Rental Affordability Snapshot yesterday, which is designed to highlight the lived experience of people looking for housing while in receipt of a low income. This is the sixth year it has been carried out on a national level, and the figures show there is a severe housing crisis for people on low incomes. Poor housing and housing stress, together with other life stresses, reduces psychological wellbeing and exacerbates mental illness.
Affordable housing for low income earners is extremely important - safe, stable and secure accommodation is vital to the mental health and wellbeing of people and families living with mental illness. The Anglicare report confirms the finding of the 2012 National Report Card on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, that housing stress along with financial stress, and the stress of unemployment or living with poor health, can be contributing factors to mental illness. Click on the link below to view our response to the report's findings.
The NMHCCF have released a short document to equip consumers, carers and members of the community with key facts and figures regarding mental health in Australia. The brief includes information on:
VICSERV- the peak body for community managed mental health services in Victoria
The Commonwealth Government tasked the National Mental Health Commission (NMHC) with conducting a national review of mental health programmes and services. The review focussed on assessing the efficiency and effectiveness of programmes and services in supporting individuals experiencing mental ill-health and their families and other support people to lead a contributing life and to engage productively in the community.
The final report was provided to the Commonwealth Government on 1 December 2014 and has now been officially released.
The National Review of Mental Health Programmes and Services has highlighted grave weaknesses in Australia’s mental health system as a whole. The Review findings centre on the inefficiency and ineffectiveness of Commonwealth services and programmes, as well as poor investment and spending patterns on mental health by the federal government.
The final Report of the Review is made up of four volumes:
1. Set clear roles and accountabilities to shape a person-centred mental health system
2. Agree and implement national targets and local organisational performance measures
3. Shift funding priorities from hospitals and income support to community and primary health care services
4. Empower and support self-care and implement a new model of stepped care across Australia
5. Promote the wellbeing and mental health of the Australian community, beginning with a healthy start to life
6. Expand dedicated mental health and social and emotional wellbeing teams for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
7. Reduce suicides and suicide attempts by 50 per cent over the next decade
8. Build workforce and research capacity to support systems change
9. Improve access to services and support through innovative technologies
The Key Findings
The Review found that the current mental health system is complex to navigate, which creates an access barrier for people living with mental illness, their families and their carers.
Unfortunately, the Commission’s investigations were hindered by a lack of service evaluation data on client mental health outcomes, especially for NGOs. In response to this concern, the Review recommends the Australian government agree upon and implement national targets and local organisational performance measures.
The Commission believes Commonwealth-funded services do add value, but are not cost-effective as there is duplication of some support offerings, whilst across other services there are substantial gaps, particularly for rural and ATSI consumers.
The Review states that system responses to ATSI consumers are not designed with their needs in mind, nor do they adequately address the disproportionate rates of mental distress, trauma, suicide and self-harm they experience, or their exposure to discrimination and other risk factors. The Commission recommended expanding dedicated mental health wellbeing teams for ATSI consumers. It further recommended introducing national targets to reduce suicides and suicide attempts by 50 per cent over the next decade.
The Review found that many community services have effective strategies in enabling mental health consumers to participate in and contribute fully to community life, using a whole-of-person approach. From these observations, the Review has called for a redesign of state and federal mental health systems that takes a person-centred, whole-of-life approach to mental health and wellbeing. To achieve this, the Review identifies the need to build workforce and research capacity to support systems change.
The Commission has called for an integrated stepped care model for mental health, in which services are designed, funded and delivered to match individual need. Therefore it recommended to set clear roles and accountabilities to shape a person-centred mental health system.
From an economic standpoint, the Review found that governments nationwide are receiving poor returns on their substantial investment in mental health. Total mental health spending by Commonwealth, state and territory governments is about $14 billion per year, without factoring in the hidden costs of productivity loss for consumers and carers. The Review dealt with “allocative efficiency”, stating that 87.5% of the Commonwealth’s $9.6 billion mental health budget is spent on expensive ‘end-of-line’ support for impairment, with very little funds left over for low-level mental illness prevention services. Evidence shows that early intervention can ensure consumers avoid unnecessary treatment such as restraint or medication. The Commission found that diverting resources from acute care services (disability pensions, Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, hospital activity etc) to community care services running early intervention work would reap the biggest economic returns. Therefore the Commission recommended shifting funding from acute care to community services.
The Commission found that within community mental health services, administrative and reporting requirements are inefficient and divert resources away from frontline service delivery. This creates an access barrier for clients, made worse by the fact that the mental health workforce is under stress due to short-term finding arrangements, funding cuts and high staff turnover. In response to this issue, the Commission recommends improving access to services and support through innovative technologies.
The Commission is confident that if these reforms are enacted, we will be able to build a quality and responsive mental health and suicide prevention system in Australia that promotes the best possible outcomes for mental health and well-being for consumers and carers.
Initial Government Response
The Federal Health Minister, Sussan Ley has already ruled out implementation of the recommendation to redirect a minimum of $1 billion from hospital growth funds to community mental health programs.
She said a "consultative and collaborative" approach was essential and she would seek to establish a dedicated COAG working group on mental health reform, which would be tasked with developing a "co-ordinated, binding and national" long term plan.
In addition an expert reference group will be established to help develop strategies in four key areas: suicide prevention; prevention and early intervention; primary care; and national leadership, including regional service integration.
The Minister's media release is available here.
Click here to view the full Final Report. There is a summary by the National Mental Health Commission, which includes recommendations, and also a number of fact sheets providing information on specific issues on the Commission's website.
VICSERV will work with Community Mental Health Australia and Mental Health Australia to urge the government to engage with the issues raised in the review and recognise that mental health requires a sustained focus with new targets to drive improvements.
More information will be provided on our website.
ASCA delivers professional development training in both trauma-informed service delivery and clinical practice for working with adult survivors of complex trauma. Join us at one of our upcoming workshops. Click here to register (http://www.asca.org.au/Education-and-Training/Calendar-of-Events.aspx)
The Andrews Labor Government has established a new Ice Help Line as part of a $45.5 million Ice Action Plan to support families and ice users, Minister for Mental Health Martin Foley announced this week. The Help Line – 1800 ICE ADVICE (1800 423 238) – will direct users and families to the treatment and support services they need, and provide general information to the community about ice and its effects.
The service will be free to call from landlines, and also provide important clinical advice to health professionals working with ice users.Turning Point will operate this 24/7 Help Line, drawing upon its extensive experience in providing phone-based support. The 1800 ICE ADVICE phone service is now taking calls, coinciding with the launch of the new www.ice.vic.gov.au website. The website provides updates on the Labor Government’s efforts to stop ice on the streets and at the source, and information on treatment services and how the community can get involved in tackling the drug.
Tenders are also now open with the Department of Health and Human Services for the development and delivery of the Government’s new Family Drug Education Program.
Read full media release here
The National Mental Health Consumer and Carer Forum (NMHCCF) is calling for the views of people with a lived experience of mental illness and those who care for them to be included in the proposed working groups following the release of the National Mental Health Commission’s Review of Mental Health Programmes and Services.
“We welcome the release of this Report,” NMHCCF Consumer Co-Chair Lyn English said. “However, when considering the Commission’s Report, Ministers must consult with consumers and carers. NMHCCF members have a lived experience of mental illness or caring for someone with a mental illness. NMHCCF also represent an extensive network of consumers and carers and are in a unique position to identify what does and doesn’t work in the mental health sector. They can provide expertise through collective knowledge when considering the recommendations from the Commission’s review.”
For more information please contact Kathryn Sequoia, Executive Officer on 02 6285 3100
Read full media release here
This is a reminder that the Young, Queer and Caring confidential online survey closes on 30 April 2015. Please share this link with your networks. Carers Victoria is keen to hear from young carers aged 14-25 who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, intersex, transgender, queer or questioning (LGBTIQ) about their needs and concerns. They may be current or former carers.
Read more here
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