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NSW Launches Charter 2020 A National Consensus for Mental Health Reform

The Mental Health Coordinating Council has joined with over 100 leading mental health and suicide prevention organisations to sign the Charter 2020: Time to Fix Mental Health – a set of agreed principles that are crucial to improving Australia’s mental health system.

This is an unprecedented show of unity ahead of the release this week of the report of the Productivity Commission Inquiry into Mental Health. The Charter sets out nine guiding themes for policy, system and practice change and calls for a national agreement on mental health which features person-led care and which addresses the social determinants of mental health such as housing, employment, trauma, physical health, income support and environment.

Key reform priorities include expanding community-based mental health care, workforce development, integrating services and investment in early intervention and Indigenous wellbeing.

MHCC CEO Carmel Tebbutt said effective mental health services are not only about treating symptoms.

“The purpose of our mental health system is – or should be – to support people to achieve the elements of a good life: positive relationships, a home, meaningful work or other activities.

“Practical assistance, specially tailored for people’s mental health needs, can make a huge difference. A great example of this is the NSW Housing and Accommodation Support Initiative (HASI), where community organisations provide intensive support to people so they can live independently.

“This program has been shown to pay for itself in health system savings, even before the personal benefits of improved mental health are factored in.”

Despite such successes, NSW remains underinvested in community mental health services.

Ms Tebbutt said Charter 2020 recognises that providing community-based services to support people before they reach crisis and keeping people out of hospital whenever possible is better for individuals and a more effective use of resources.

“There have been numerous reviews and reports into mental health in the last decade – it is now time for action. We know investing in mental health provides substantial personal and economic benefits. The Productivity Commission report into mental health provides a critical opportunity to deliver lasting reform and the Charter 2020: Time to Fix Mental Health shows there is real consensus on the way forward.”

Find the Charter here