Priority 6: Monitoring and reporting programs

We do not know enough about the functioning of support services for people who experience mental illness. We know some things about how many people receive services, and what type, but much too little about whether they are contributing to positive changes in people’s lives.

This is a 2015-18 priority because

  • In determining what to measure and how to measure it, we create a clear and objective understanding about the core elements of mental health reform in NSW
  • By focusing on measures explicitly linked to improving mental health consumers’ journey through the system and supporting their recovery – including their own views about the support they receive – we orient the reform process from the outset towards the things that matter most.
  • In reporting directly to Parliament on issues that affect the lives of people who experience mental illness, the Commission has a unique opportunity to shine a light on particular problems and nurture a consensus for change at the highest levels.

2015-2017 Projects

Reporting on the progress of Living Well

Under the Mental Health Commission Act, the Commission is required to monitor and report on the implementation of Living Well: A Strategic Plan for Mental Health in NSW 2014-2024. The Commission’s first reform progress report, One Year On, was tabled in Parliament by the then Minister for Mental Health, the Hon. Pru Goward MP, on 23 February 2016. The report provided an account to the Minister of the notable achievements made by agencies responsible for leading the Living Well reforms, but also detailed areas for urgent action in 2016. The Commission’s next major progress report will be published and tabled in Parliament in 2017-18.

Living Well Section 1.11

Community Surveys

To assist with monitoring the progress of mental health reform, the Commission has conducted two Community Surveys to gather the views of consumers, families and carers, and people working in the sector. The 2015 Ready for Change Survey collected responses from 744 individuals on their understanding of Living Well, to assess the success of dissemination of the Plan and also community confidence in its implementation. The results of this survey are presented in One Year On.

The Evidence of Change Survey was conducted in September 2016 and collected feedback on the community’s perceptions of mental health reform in NSW and their experiences of implementation so far. The results of this survey will be published in 2017.

Living Well Section 1.11

Accessible data

Reliable data is essential to understanding how people experience their mental health, and how mental health and social support systems respond to them. This is the evidence that can make the case for change, and reveal whether mental health reforms are effective in improving people’s lives.

The Commission is working with the Australian Bureau of Statistics, universities, the NSW Government and others to increase the amount and quality of data available on the NSW mental health system, including developing and analysing new data-sets and linking existing ones.

The Commission has also created a suite of interactive presentations and snapshots which make NSW mental health-related data more accessible to consumers, academics and the whole community. Our interactive data pages currently include: a set of analyses on patterns of mental health service and pharmaceutical use in NSW; population health data that shows associated health behaviours and outcomes for people with high to very high psychological distress in NSW; and mapping of suicide rates across NSW, including by age and Aboriginal status. These will be added to over time.

Living Well Action 2.1.5 and 5.3.6

Stigma and discrimination in NSW

In 2015 the Commission contracted the University of Melbourne to deliver a report on NSW data from the National Surveys of Mental Health Literacy and Stigma and National Survey of Discrimination and Positive Treatment. These two national surveys investigate interpersonal experiences of stigma and discrimination. Together they provide insights into the public’s understanding of and attitudes towards mental illness, how this impacts on their relationships with people living with mental illness, and the personal experiences of stigma and discrimination by people living with mental illness.

The report was completed in 2015 and the findings were reported in One Year On: Progress Report on the Implementation of Living Well: A Strategic Plan for Mental Health in NSW 2014-2024. To highlight and synthesise the findings, the Commission also produced a summary report as a companion document. The work contributes to an improved understanding of the stigma and discrimination faced by people with mental illness in NSW, what underpins these attitudes, and how they can be addressed.

Living Well Action 3.5

The population impact of psychosis on offending behaviour in NSW

People with mental illness are over-represented in the criminal justice system, and in 2014 the Commission engaged the Kirby Institute at the University of New South Wales to undertake a long-term research project to help understand why. Researchers will establish a data set that will enable investigation into the impact of mental illness on offending behaviour in NSW; the rate of offending and reoffending among those diagnosed with a mental illness in NSW; the proportion of crime in NSW committed by people with a mental illness; and predictors of violent and non-violent offending and reoffending in those with mental illness. In 2015-16, researchers linked major data sets from NSW Health, the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research and Corrective Services NSW. In 2016-17 researchers are conducting further data linkage and preliminary data analysis.

Living Well Action 6.6.2

Supporting coronial data analysis

In 2016 the Commission engaged the University of Sydney to analyse the findings of the NSW Coroner’s Court between 2005-2015. The aim of this project is to understand the circumstances of an individual’s death where the person had contact with the mental health system, or where mental illness in any way contributed to their death. The review takes a broad view of the ways in which mental illness can contribute to death including via poor physical health, poverty or homelessness. No previous research has been conducted in relation to these records, and the findings will shed light on systemic issues in NSW that are contributing to people with mental illness dying prematurely. The findings are due in a report to the Commission by the end June 2017.

Living Well Action 6.2.2

Inside Outside recovery research project

This project will research and document the evidence base for implementing trauma-informed, recovery-focused mental health care in justice and corrections systems. Despite the good will of many, the availability of such care to people in the criminal justice system has lagged behind its availability to those in the general community. Factors that contribute to this include the difficulty of delivering services in highly secure environments and the tension that exists between services’ functions to both punish and rehabilitate people. In early 2017, researchers contracted by the Commission conducted a literature review and two surveys, the first with people who have mental health issues and who have had contact with the criminal justice system, and the second with professionals who work in the forensic/criminal justice system. The findings will be provided to the Commission in mid-2017. The results will provide guidance to those who work in and operate the NSW criminal justice system on how trauma-informed, recovery oriented mental health care can be further implemented and strengthened.

Living Well Action 6.6

Last updated: 19 June 2017

Share this