Innovation for impact: highlights from the Health Horizons Forum mental health roundtable

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

Image: Roundtable discussions captured by Visual Storytellers at the Health Horizons mental health roundtable.

What innovations have had the greatest impact on mental health prevention, treatment, and care in Australia – and what has the greatest potential to make a difference in the future?

These were just some of the important discussions that took centre stage at the Health Horizons Forum: Innovation in Mental Health earlier this month.

On 9 March, some of the nation’s top experts gathered in Sydney for a cross-sector roundtable discussion on innovation in the mental health, focusing on identifying new Australian innovations, how to foster future innovations, and strategies to overcome barriers to implementation.

Hosted in partnership by AAHMS and Saltire Capital Partners, the event was co-chaired by Professor Maree Teesson AM FASSA FAHMS, Director of The Matilda Centre, The University of Sydney and ABC All in the Mind host Sana Qadar. The discussions were captured by graphic recording company, Visual Storytellers.

It was the first time the Academy has hosted an event that brought together experts from across the mental health sector.

"Australia is at the forefront of mental health research,” said Professor Teesson. “However, it’s rare for experts working in different fields within the sector to have the opportunity to collaborate on areas of shared interest, such as innovation. Bringing together leaders in innovation and research allows us to focus on the big picture and how we can address future challenges."

More than 3,000 people die by suicide each year in Australia, with recent statistics from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) indicating that these figures are increasing – highlighting the need for continual investment in the sector.

Digital interventions, new models of care, and medical breakthroughs in treatment were all highlighted as positive innovations that have already made an impact in the community. However, it was the need for de-stigmatisation, early intervention and integration with other services that became a common thread in the discussions.

A discussion on opportunities and barriers to innovation, captured by Visual Storytellers

The group highlighted the need to move beyond research and health operating in silos, with future innovations focused on:

  • Accessibility of services, particularly in rural/regional areas
  • Social care and housing infrastructure
  • Integration with other areas such as legal and financial support
  • Locally driven solutions and communication with clinicians
  • Collaboration with other fields

Participants also highlighted the strong need to bring people with lived experience to the table.

The roundtable is one of four events in the Health Horizons Forum planned for this year. The forums are designed to explore future opportunities and challenges with key industry leaders to identify the next big ideas that could transform the health of the Australian community in the coming decades. A more detailed report is in development for publication in the coming months.

Visit the Health Horizons Forum webpage to learn more.

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