Experts propose a path to improve Australia’s mental health

Discussion from the Health Horizons mental health roundtable captured by graphic recorders.

Australia needs bold, future focused action to change the trajectory of our mental health outcomes, and experts have proposed a three-pronged approach to improve our mental health system.

The Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences today released a report from a specialist roundtable, chaired by mental health expert and Academy Fellow Professor Maree Teesson AC and award-winning ABC journalist Sana Qadar.

The report highlights the need for a new system to address mental health which incorporates three components: a national mental health alliance to lead strategic direction; lived experience and community engagement informing all aspects of the system; and a new pipeline that provides efficient and effective pathways to ensure the best care is delivered based on the best evidence.

“A revitalised system built around these three components would build on our strengths, nurture innovation and allow stakeholders to work more closely together to drive forward the necessary change,” Professor Teesson said.

“Australia’s mental health outcomes are worsening. Without change, we risk significant consequences for the health of communities, society and the economy.

“The consequences of mental illness also extend well beyond the individual, leading to widespread and substantial socioeconomic impacts affecting the nation and the world. Every year, the burden of mental illness and suicide costs the Australian community over $33 billion.”

Maree Teesson

Professor Teesson (pictured above) said Australia was in a good position to improve its mental health system, with world-leading research, engaged policy-makers and an excellent mental health workforce.

“The performance of Australian research in mental health punches above its weight globally. For example, we rank fifth in the world for number of mental health publications and citations – both important metrics for research quality and quantity,” she said.

“Australia is also an international leader in mental health innovation in areas such as early intervention and youth mental health.

“However, despite our ability to deliver excellent, world-leading research, it is not reaching the community at the scale needed for widespread change.

“Ultimately, Australia can no longer keep going the way it has been if we want to make widespread impact and change the trajectory of our mental health status.

“If we continue to do the same things we have always done, we will get the same results.

“By taking steps towards forming a national mental health alliance, delivering more strategic lived experience and community engagement, and developing a new pipeline from evidence to care, we can accelerate progress towards a more mentally healthy Australia.”

Read the roundtable discussions findings in full here:

Media: AAHMS Head of Communication and Media Katie Rowney, [email protected] or P: 07 3102 7212 M: +61 (0) 419 787 551

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