Mental Health Australia aims to promote mentally healthy communities, educate Australians on mental health issues, influence mental health reform so that government policies address all contemporary mental health issues, conduct research on mental health issues, and carry out regular consultation to represent the best interests of our members, partners and the wider community.
These endeavours in education and policy reform are matched by our commitment to researching more innovative approaches to the provision of mental health care. In addition, Mental Health Australia continues to focus on the human rights of people with a mental illness.
Like Painaustralia’s commitment to improve people’s lives through listening to those with lived experience, we want to define and deliver true co-design for leadership and vision in the mental health consumer and carer movement.
We have introduced internal changes that amplify the wider consumer and carer voice in leadership and strategy, that will also help inform the future strategic direction of the organisation as a whole, as we seek to advocate for a better mental health ecosystem that is truly person led. Our vision for mentally healthy communities can only be achieved if consumers and carers are central to all of our work.
I understand that Painaustralia also relies on the unique expertise of people living with chronic pain to assist in understanding the challenges and therefore better target efforts for advocacy and service improvement and we are very keen to work together on the shared areas of concern.
Having worked for the past three years as the CEO of Western Victoria Primary Health Network I have encountered the very real challenges for locals in accessing specialist care for pain, especially in regional and rural settings. There are echoes of this in the challenges for those with mental illness seeking local treatment and community-based care.
Working in primary care created a real spotlight for me on the opportunities for integration at the point of care. GPs have a unique perspective in understanding a patient and all of the contributing factors in their presentation. They can weave together a treatment plan that addresses both physical and mental health issues and this is the heart of quality care. I am therefore delighted that Mental Health Australia has a seat on the Primary Care Reform Steering Committee and an opportunity to support the development of integrated models of care and the workforce reform needed to build the capability of the primary care workforce to understand and work positively with all people with complex needs.
Before the pandemic hit Australia and the world, it was our view that Australia’s mental health required urgent action. The Productivity Commission Inquiry into Mental Health provided a once-in-a-generation opportunity to realise our nation’s mental wealth, and to finally fix our ailing mental health system. We knew that investing in mental health provides substantial personal and economic benefits. We argued that it is time to fix mental health and along with many supporters released our Charter 2020.
Once the pandemic took hold, and governments across jurisdictions began to deliver further investment, we saw an example of how clear and quick decisions and action are potentially changing the face of our mental health ecosystem. The mental health impact of this pandemic is becoming more and more evident and will create huge challenges for response, now and well into the future.
There has never been a more important time for the Australian Government to consider the mental health of our nation and we look forward to the release of the Final Report from the Productivity Commission Inquiry into Mental Health. It is a report that has seen extensive expert input, wide consideration of the challenges, and broad respectful consultation.
We know this report looks at both the social and health benefits of improving our mental health system, as well as the governance and economic solutions that could see it thrive. Because they listened to consumers and carers across many different domains, we know the Commission will consider the critical integration needed across health and mental health care that delivers a truly person-led response.
The Final Report will guide us in setting the framework for improving the mental health of our communities, our people in tight lockdowns, our front line health professionals, our families dealing with despair as a result of loss through bushfire, flood, economic hardship, and death as a result of the virus.
Dr Leanne Beagley
Chief Executive Officer, Mental Health Australia
Leanne Beagley has been the Chief Executive Officer at Mental Health Australia since April 2020. Prior to working at Mental Health Australia Leanne worked for Western Victoria Primary Health Network as the Chief Executive Officer for three years.
Mental Health Australia is the national peak body for mental health with 125 member organisations and a strong history of advocacy for the mental health needs of our community and a better system for responding to these. Mental Health Australia was established as the first independent peak body in Australia to represent the full spectrum of mental health stakeholders and issues.