Priority 2: Improving the journey for people who use mental health supports

The services used by people who experience mental illness – not just health care but many others including education, housing and family services – generally have not been designed with the needs of mental health consumers clearly in mind. People who live with mental illness, and their families and carers, know the systems of mental health support best, and can give the best guidance about what matters most and how to make it better.

This is a 2015-18 priority because

  • We have a unique opportunity through Living Well to make positive change across the full range of Government services.
  • When people who live with mental illness are at the heart of the change process from the very beginning, and remain involved at all stages and at all levels, we can be much more confident that our reform directions will be the right ones.

2015-2017 Projects

Mental Health Review Tribunal videos

In partnership with the Mental Health Review Tribunal, the Commission developed a series of educational videos about the Tribunal’s hearing process. These videos speak to consumers, carers, medical professionals and lawyers about what to expect when appearing before the Tribunal and what the Tribunal expects from those presenting evidence. The videos are intended to relieve some of the anxiety consumers and carers can experience when they appear before the Tribunal, and make it easier for them to participate fully and express their views and wishes.

Living Well Action 4.3.2

Lived Experience Framework

The Commission is scoping and progressing a Lived Experience Framework to further understand the range of activities where consumer influence, leadership and participation would be beneficial to mental health reform. Under the banner of the Framework, the Commission will support NSW agencies and organisations to strengthen their peer workforces, after it convened a Peer Work Forum in March 2015 to present the evidence and benefits of employing peer workers and discuss the organisational factors required for a successful implementation of a peer workforce.

Living Well Action 8.2.2

Mental Health and Intellectual Disability

The Commission is a partner in the research project Improving the Mental Health Outcomes of People with Intellectual Disability, funded by the National Health & Medical Research Council and led by the University of New South Wales. The project has three components: linkage of health service usage data to better understand how people with an intellectual disability currently use mental health services; a review of current policy at national and state levels; and engagement with consumers and carers around access to mental health care and support.

Living Well Action 7.3.4

Mental health of Older Persons

The Commission is working with the Faculty of Old Age Psychiatry within the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, and with other stakeholder groups, to explore issues particular to the mental health support of older people, and any implications they have for the provision of mental health and related social services. The Commission will produce an Issues Paper identifying areas that require attention and change, and then ask Government agencies to endorse high level directions for reform.

Living Well Action 5.1.1

Medication and Mental Illness

Guided by its Pharmacotherapy Advisory Group, the Commission has undertaken a community consultation into the use of medication in mental illness, in order to hear people’s experiences and better understand the issues they face. The Commission received more than 200 submissions and also conducted targeted consultations with key stakeholders. It will use this information to evaluate to whether people’s needs and preferences around medication are being appropriately and sensitively met, and determine whether any further action is required.

Living Well Action 6.2.2 and 6.2.8

Therapeutic settings

There is a strong link between the built environment and mental health and wellbeing. In particular the built environment of an in-patient mental health unit can impact on recovery. To get a better sense of the challenges and opportunities in developing therapeutic environments the Commission will host a round table to share experiences and draw out the perspectives and expertise of consumers, clinicians, architects, and public health experts, which will assist the Commission to determine any required action.

Living Well Action 4.4.6


Insights in recovery – translating lived experience of eating disorders

The Commission has contracted the Butterfly Foundation to undertake this key piece of work, which will study consumers’ experience to identify recovery-oriented practices likely to be effective for people with eating disorders.

Living Well Action 7.4

Pathways to Mental Health Care in Western NSW

The Commission has contracted ReachOut to develop a pilot program in western NSW which aims to increase the proportion of young people who seek support when they experience mental distress. The program will use a stepped-care approach, in which support will be offered at different intensities based on individual need.

Living Well Action 8.4.7

Lived Experience Framework - Peer Work Hub

As part of its Lived Experience Framework, the Commission contracted Craze Lateral Solutions to develop evidence-based resources to support NSW agencies to develop their mental health peer workforces. The work builds on the National Recovery Framework and work by the former Commonwealth agency Health Workforce Australia and has resulted in an online resource - the Peer Work Hub.

Living Well Actions 4.2 and 8.2

Establishing a NSW Electroconvulsive Therapy Research Network

The Commission has contracted the University of NSW to initiate the development of a network of hospitals across NSW that conduct ECT, to contribute to a world-first clinical database that will have the potential to identify the safest and most effective approaches to ECT and to train clinicians in their use. The network will conduct research into the relationship between different modes and doses of ECT and patients’ responses.

Living Well Action 5.3.5

Last updated: 5 May 2017

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