Three drivers of better mental health outcomes that will lead to a happier, healthier Australia

Improving public awareness, early intervention programs, and recovery-oriented service systems that empower people, will reduce the prevalence and impact of mental-ill health, according to a new report from Social Ventures Australia (SVA).

The report, SVA Perspectives: Mental Health, developed in partnership with Equity Trustees and funded through Equity Trustee’s Sector Capacity Building program, outlines three drivers of better outcomes in Australia’s mental health sector:

  • Public awareness and prevention approaches that reduce the incidence, prevalence and impact of mental ill-health.
  • Early intervention and integrated supports and services that are available when and where people need them.
  • Appropriate service systems that empower and support personal, clinical, social and functional recovery.

These drivers are critical to achieving SVA’s vision of an Australia where all people experience the best possible mental health and wellbeing, and can live happy, healthy, productive and meaningful lives of their choosing.

Speaking at the launch of the paper in Melbourne, leading mental health advocate and Orygen Executive Director Professor Patrick McGorry AO says despite past failures it is possible to create the systemic change the paper outlines.

McGorry was joined at the launch by Flourish CEO Mark Orr AM, SVA Senior Policy Advisor Claire Stacey and SVA Principal, Consulting Jon Myer.

Orr and Stacey both stressed the importance in involving people with lived experience throughout the process.

“This is a whole system issue and there’s no reason why we can’t be accessing the skills, experience and expertise of peer workers across health and human services,” Orr says.

Stacey says the starting point for any transformation of Australia’s mental health system is the inclusion of people with a lived experience of mental ill-health in all elements of mental health policy, program, and service design.

“You need to recognise that people deserve respect and dignity but also autonomy and agency over their own life, but also that they are experts in their own life,” she says.

That is one of several insights included in the paper, developed in consultation with a range of organisations working in mental health, which will enable systems change in the sector. Other insights include:

Fostering an outcomes management culture in the mental health sector.

Supporting service providers to invest in the capacity building and workforce development.

Incentivising cooperation between the mental health sector and housing, employment, education, health and justice.

Investing in research to increase the speed at which more effective practices are adopted.

Refocusing and reshape the size and direction of funding for mental health and wellbeing away from crisis response and towards recovery, early intervention and prevention services.

Unlocking new partnerships between the mental health sector and private sector

Increasing the use of technology in service delivery approaches to increase the availability and quality of services.

Experience of mental ill-health will affect almost half of the population in Australia over the course of their lifetime. SVA recognises that mental health and wellbeing is an essential component of thriving communities and is inextricably linked to good outcomes in education, employment and housing.

SVA’s Jon Myer says the paper recognises the enormous diversity that exists in mental health and wellbeing.

‘There’s a huge diversity of experience when you’re examining such a complex system,’ he says.

‘We hope the paper acts as a spark for further conversations and collaboration in the sector, among practitioners, community members, funders and policy makers and in turn drives systemic change.’

A full copy of the paper is available here.