Fourth National Mental Health Plan: An agenda for collaborative government action in mental health 2009-2014

Department of Health, NSW, Australia, 2009

This document, launched by the Australian Health Ministers’ Conference (AHMC) in November 2009, is the product of twelve months of development work including a comprehensive stakeholder consultation process.

Endorsement of the plan represents commitment by all governments to implementation of the following vision for mental health set out in the National Mental Health Policy 2008:

  • A mental health system that enables recovery, that prevents and detects mental illness early and ensures that all Australians with a mental illness can access effective and appropriate treatment and community support to enable them to participate fully in the community.

The plan identifies key actions that will make meaningful progress towards fulfilling the vision of the policy. While led by health ministers, the plan takes a whole of government approach through involving sectors other than just health. The plan will provide a basis for governments to advance mental health activities within the various portfolio areas in a more integrated way, recognising that many sections can contribute to better outcomes for people living with mental illness.

The plan has five priority areas for government action in mental health:

1. Social inclusion and recovery

2. Prevention and early intervention

3. Service access, coordination and continuity of care

4. Quality improvement and innovation and

5. Accountability – measuring and reporting progress.

The plan is ambitious in its approach and for the first time includes a robust accountability framework. Each year, governments will report progress on implementation of the plan to the Council of Australian Governments. The plan includes indicators for monitoring change in the way the mental health system is working for people living with mental illness as well as their families and carers. Health ministers have agreed to develop targets and data sources for each of the indicators in the first twelve months of the plan.

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