If you heard the muffled sound of a repressed collective groan around the traps this week, perhaps it was in response to the news of yet another inquiry into mental health services.
Health Minister Peter Dutton announced that the National Mental Health Commission would review “all existing programmes across the government, non-government and private sectors”.
His statement said: “The review should identify gaps in service delivery, inefficiency, duplication and excessive red tape.” The report is due to be delivered to the Government by November 30. The terms of reference (reproduced in full at the bottom of this post) seem heavily focused on efficiency and savings.
One irate mental health policy expert got in touch with Croakey to say it’s time for action, not more reports. The expert, who wishes to remain anonymous due to public sector employment, said:
“Dutton is just putting off reform, as his predecessors have done.
Looking at the number of reports, no one could argue that we don’t know what needs to be done, where funding and reform should be a priority, what isn’t working, the importance of housing, employment, et cetera.”
After all, we already have plenty of recommendations on the table from the:
• A stream of Mental Health Council of Australia reports and recommendations
• The National Mental Health Commission 2012 and 2013 recommendations
The Review’s Terms of reference
“This review will examine existing mental health services and programmes across the government, private and non-government sectors. The focus of the review will be to assess the efficiency and effectiveness of programmes and services in supporting individuals experiencing mental ill health and their families and other support people to lead a contributing life and to engage productively in the community.
Programmes and services may include those that have as a main objective:
- The prevention, early detection and treatment of mental illness;
- The prevention of suicide;
- Mental health research, workforce development and training; and/or
- The reduction of the burden of disease caused by mental illness.
The review will consider:
- The efficacy and cost-effectiveness of programmes, services and treatments;
- Duplication in current services and programmes;
- The role of factors relevant to the experience of a contributing life such as employment, accommodation and social connectedness (without evaluating programs except where they have mental health as their principal focus);
- The appropriateness, effectiveness and efficiency of existing reporting requirements and regulation of programmes and services;
- Funding priorities in mental health and gaps in services and programmes, in the context of the current fiscal circumstances facing governments;
- Existing and alternative approaches to supporting and funding mental health care;
- Mental health research, workforce development and training
- Specific challenges for regional, rural and remote Australia;
- Specific challenges for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people; and
- Transparency and accountability for outcomes of investment.”
And so it goes, on and on…the wheels turning and churning, but when will there be traction?