Information on State and Federal Policies and Legislation

The National Mental Health Plan

What is the National Mental Health Plan 2003-2008?

The National Mental Health Plan 2003-2008 is a strategy that aims to provide a unified agenda for mental health in Australia for improving the mental health of all Australians. This is the third National Mental Health Plan , which expires at the end of 2008. The development of the fourth plan has commenced. The current plan includes the:

  • Promotion of mental health;
  • Prevention of mental illness;
  • Reduction of the impact of mental illness; and
  • Assurance of the rights of people with mental illness.

What is included in the Third National Mental Health Plan 2003-2008?

The Plan for 2003-2008 has four priorities:

  1. Promoting mental health and preventing mental health problems and mental illness;
  2. Increasing service responsiveness;
  3. Strengthening quality; and
  4. Fostering research, innovation and sustainability.

Who developed the National Mental Health Plan 2003-2008?

The Australian Commonwealth, State and Territory Health Ministers. The Plan was based on the evaluation of previous plans, and included wide community consultation, commentary by international experts, and data from the National Mental Health Report.

How does the National Mental Health Plan 2003-2008 link in with other policies?

This Plan is the Australia-wide plan, which is used to direct state and territory mental health policies. It also links in with other sectors, such as housing, education, welfare, justice and employment.

NSW CAG's view

Although the Plan has assisted in directing the priorities for mental health in Australia, it is the view of NSW CAG that many of the desired outcomes are yet to be realised. For example, and in particular, NSW CAG considers that much more work is needed to:

  • Reduce stigma and discrimination experienced by people living with mental illness
  • Move services towards working within a recovery orientation
  • Improve access to services, particularly in rural and remote regions
  • Ensure equitable access to housing, employment, education, justice, and disability and social services
  • Ensure genuine consumer participation within mental health services

The third National Mental Health Plan can be found at http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/mental-pubs-n-plan03 .

To contribute to the development of the Fourth National Mental Health Plan, go to http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/resources/national_mhealth_plan.asp

The fourth National Mental Health Plan can be found at http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/mental-pubs-f-plan09

The State Mental Health Plan

The NSW state mental health plan is outlined in the publication NSW: A New Direction for Mental Health 2006.

What is the plan ‘NSW: A New Direction for Mental Health'?

This five year plan from 2006-2011 is the overarching plan for mental health in NSW, and seeks to provide earlier and better access to mental health services across NSW. The NSW State Mental Health Plan NSW: A New Direction for Mental Health falls under the broad NSW plan A New Direction for NSW: State Plan, and also the general NSW health plan A New Direction for NSW: State Health Plan. The state mental health plan outlines how much money is being spent on mental health in the state, and specific areas of expenditure, for example forensic mental health services and the Housing Accommodation and Support Initiative (HASI).

What is included in the plan ‘NSW: A New Direction for Mental Health'?

The key priorities within the plan are:

  • Promotion, prevention and early intervention
  • Improving and integrating the care system
  • Participation in the community and employment, including accommodation
  • Mental health workforce development

The Plan also places a greater focus on community mental health services. It outlines the initiatives for implementation as well as the plans to evaluate these initiatives.

Who developed the plan ‘NSW: A New Direction for Mental Health'?

This Plan was developed by the NSW Mental Health and Drug and Alcohol Office, NSW Department of Health, in conjunction with Area Health Services, consumers, carers and service partners of the NSW Department of Health.

How does the plan ‘NSW: A New Direction for Mental Health' fit in with other policies?

This policy is the broad policy which covers all mental health areas within NSW. Under this plan fall a range of specific mental health plans and strategies, for example, plans relating to community services, rural and multicultural mental health consumers.

NSW CAG's view

As with the National Mental Health Plan, NSW CAG views, that while this state policy sets out what is to be achieved in the NSW mental health system to promote prevention, improve the system, increase participation and workforce capacity, there is a long way to go until these objectives are realised. NSW CAG considers that there is much work to be done to combat stigma, encourage participation and the move towards an individual recovery focused sector, and increase the standards of mental health services throughout NSW.

NSW: A new direction for mental Health can be found at http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/pubs/2006/mental_health.html .

Two strategies recently released in NSW include:

NSW Community Mental Health Strategy 2007-2012

What is the NSW Community Mental Health Strategy 2007-2012?
This strategy was published in October 2008, and has the aim to "deliver comprehensive community mental health services across NSW" (p. 1), for all, including improved services to communities including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI), Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) and rural and remote communities. The Strategy proposes a recovery focused model of service provision.

This document acknowledges that recovery is not about the absence of symptoms, but an individual journey that is guided by the individual. It takes a holistic view of the person, considering how mental illness impacts on the whole of life, and the broad needs of consumers including accommodation, education, employment, social interaction, relationships to name only a few. Importantly, the model refers to service centred around hope, meaning, and living a fulfilling life. The model also promotes the empowerment of consumers through ensuring genuine opportunities for participation in treatment, service delivery, decision making, policy development and evaluation.

What is included in the NSW Community Mental Health Strategy?
The Strategy has three key priorities:

  1. Specialist mental health services to ensure programs and services for all age groups and across all settings
  2. Community mental health service partnerships, e.g. between public and non-government organisation services
  3. Quality, innovation, research and infrastructure

The Strategy outlines the initiatives for implementation, as well as the plans to evaluate these initiatives.

How does the NSW Community Mental Health Strategy fit in with other policies?
This plan aligns with:

  • A New Direction for NSW: The State Plan
  • A New Direction for NSW: The State Health Plan
  • NSW: A New Direction for Mental Health 2006

NSW CAG's view
NSW CAG considers this Strategy to be an important foundation for the improvement of community mental health services that meet the needs of consumers, and assist people living with mental illness to recover and remain well within the community. It is a comprehensive strategy that has potential to make a positive difference in the lives of people living with mental illness. NSW CAG endorses the Strategy and our key concern is that the Strategy achieves full implementation

The Strategy can be found at
http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/pubs/2008/mh_strategy.html

NSW Health Physical Health Care of Mental Health Consumers - Guidelines

What is the ‘Physical Health Care of Mental Health Consumers - Guidelines'?
Research has demonstrated that the physical health of people with a mental illness is often poor, and that poor physical health is associated with impaired mental health. As a result NSW Health identified the need to create guidelines which support the physical health of consumers.

The ‘Physical Health Care of Mental Health Consumers - Guidelines' supports the adoption of a consistent statewide approach to the practice of physical health examinations and interventions for consumers. NSW Health developed these Guidelines in 2009 as a resource for all mental health services to improve the physical health of consumers and prevent disease.

The Guidelines are a key resource that intend to enable mental health services to deliver holistic, supportive and choice-driven health care, leading to improved overall health outcomes for consumers.

What is included in the Physical Health Care of Mental Health Consumers - Guidelines?
The main priorities of the Guidelines are to provide a framework for NSW mental health services to: 

  • Recognise their role in ensuring the physical health care of consumers, including advocacy;
  • Clarify appropriate linkages with other health care providers;
  • Build stronger partnerships with key stakeholders, including GPs, mental health consumers, and families and carers;
  • Establish minimum expectations for the physical health care of consumers, together with a program to improve standards; and
  • Improve the physical health care of mental health consumers.

The Guidelines offer strategies for service improvement; approaches for health services to better deal with the physical health needs of consumers; training methods for all mental health service staff on assessing the physical health of consumers; and clinical guidelines for examination.

How does the Physical Health Care of Mental Health Consumers fit in with other policies?
The guidelines align with: 

  • The National Standards for Mental Health Services
  • The Physical Health Mental Health Handbook
  • Policy Directive: Physical Health Care within Mental Health Services

http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/F795ACEC60FEF91DCA25723D007F9A8C/$File/servstds.pdf
http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/pubs/2009/pdf/080132_phmh_handbook.pdf
http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/policies/pd/2009/pdf/PD2009_027.pdf

NSW CAG's view
NSW CAG sees these Guidelines as being an important step in addressing the physical health care of consumers, which is often neglected. It provides consumers with the opportunity for a more holistic framework of treatment and care.

The Guidelines can be found at:
http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/policies/gl/2009/GL2009_007.html

NSW Multicultural Mental Health Plan 2008-2012

What is the NSW Multicultural Mental Health Plan?
This plan was launched on 26 th November 2008. It was developed to guide the improvement of the mental health of people in NSW from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities. It seeks to address some of the factors that impact upon the mental health of people from CALD communities.

What is included in the NSW Multicultural Mental Health Plan?
The five priorities outlined in this plan are:

  1. Integrated policies that guide informed and data driven planning processes
  2. Renewing a focus on education, prevention and early intervention
  3. Delivering culturally inclusive and responsive mental health services
  4. Enhancing cultural competencies in mental health service delivery
  5. Promoting culturally inclusive research, evaluation and innovation

The Plan outlines the initiatives for implementation, as well as the plans to evaluate these initiatives.

How does the NSW Multicultural Mental Health Plan fit in with other policies?
This Plan aligns with:

  • A New Direction for NSW: The State Plan
  • A New Direction for NSW: The State Health Plan
  • NSW: A New Direction for Mental Health 2006
  • Framework for the Implementation of the National Mental Health Plan 2003 - 2008 in Multicultural Australia

NSW CAG's view
NSW CAG sees this plan as an important step towards the provision of suitable mental health services for people from CALD backgrounds.

The Plan can be found at:
http://www.mmha.org.au/information/news-items/nsw-multicultural-mental-health-plan-2008-2012

Where to find other policies

National mental health policy:

General NSW policy:

General NSW health policy:

NSW mental health policy:

NSW legislation:

NSW general:


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