Further to recent posts about John Mendoza’s resignation as Chair of the National Advisory Council on Mental Health (NACMH), Professor Alan Rosen offers some suggestions for ways forward for the Rudd Government (or anyone else who may be listening, Messrs Abbott and Dutton perhaps??). And here’s a transript of an ABC radio interview with Mendoza yesterday.
Alan Rosen writes:
“I was very sorry to learn of Professor John Mendoza’s resignation from the chair of National Advisory Council on Mental Health (NACMH) but I fully understand the frustrations and disappointments that led him to this decision.
I appreciate how much personal time, commitment and expertise he and the members of NACMH put into these roles. I am sure that it is not widely known just how much hard work and loyalty John offered freely to the Minister in terms of the tasks she entrusted to him and NACMH, and the confidential advice she sought from him.
We are now becoming aware that this government has betrayed this trust by delivering hardly any of the mental health reform program NACMH were led to believe this government was working on.
The clear expectations the federal government fostered with NACMH and the wider mental health community was that they would be initiating mental health service reforms and urgently needed enhancement. This government appears to have betrayed not only John and NACMH, but their inaction on mental health appears to have let down the whole mental health community.
The Rudd government can still retrieve this situation even now by committing to a National Mental Health Program, with a recurrent and protected separate budget of many times the paltry allocation made at CoAG.
It should provide strong monetary signals to the states to consistently implement evidence-based, community-centred and recovery-oriented care across all urban, rural/remote and Aboriginal community settings. It needs to extend to all phases of care and all stages of life.
This needs to be complemented by a National Mental Health Commission, and complementary state commissions (like WA) to provide a publically accessible clearing house ( or a “knowledge exchange centre” as provided by the Canadian Mental Health Comission) for evidence based practice, and a transparent accountability arm’s-length monitoring authority to ensure that this program is delivered in full by Australian governments. . It should report regularly to Prime Minister and premiers.
Of course the Rudd government is not the only party which may wish to consider making this commitment prior to the next federal election.
I personally will miss John Mendoza from this role, which should have been pivotal to Australian mental health service reform. I have no doubt that his expertise and commitment will continue to be widely sought by the mental health community of stakeholders in many other ways.
We should all convey our heartfelt thanks to John Mendoza for all his efforts and his principled stand on behalf of all of us.”
• Alan Rosen is Professorial Fellow, School Public Health, University of Wollongong, Clinical Associate Professor, Brain & Mind Research Institute, University of Sydney, and Secretary, Comprehensive Area Service Psychiatrists Network