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

Lived Experience Framework

The Commission is progressing the development of a Lived Experience Framework to further understand the range of activities where consumer and carer influence, leadership and participation would be beneficial to mental health reform. To guide work in this area, the Commission has established separate Consumer and Carer Lived Experience Advisory Groups to identify and progress priority projects in the area of consumer and carer participation, influence and leadership.

Living Well Action 8.2.2

Consumer Workers’ Forum

Since 2014 the Commission has partnered with Being to deliver the annual Consumer Workers’ Forum. The Forum is a professional development and networking opportunity for consumer (peer) workers in the NSW public mental health system.

Living Well Action 8.2

Consumer Led Research Network

In 2014 the Commission contributed to the establishment of the independent Consumer Led Research Network, which aims to promote, support and undertake consumer led research activities in NSW. Former NSW Deputy Mental Health Commissioner Bradley Foxlewin chaired the Network until the end of his term in 2016. The Commission continues to provide secretariat support to the Network, which meets quarterly. The Network has received numerous requests from mental health services to provide advice on and contribute to research projects in NSW.

Living Well Action 8.5.2

Living Well in Later Life

In 2015 the Commission began working with the Faculty of Psychiatry of Old Age within the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, and with other stakeholder groups, to explore issues particular to the mental health of older people, and any implications they have for the provision of mental health and related social services in NSW. The Commission will produce an issues paper that will identify areas that require attention and change, and a statement that aims to influence Government agencies to endorse high level directions for reform.

Living Well Action 5.1.1

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. Two key components – data linkage to better understand current access of mental health services by people with an intellectual disability, and a review of current policy at national and state level – were completed in 2015-16. In 2016-17 the focus is on data analysis and feeding back to State and Commonwealth governments the finding of the policy review.

Living Well Action 7.3.4

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

Insights in recovery – translating lived experience of eating disorders

The Commission contracted the Butterfly Foundation to produce Insights in Recovery: A consumer-informed guide for health practitioners working with people with eating disorders. The Guide was released in November 2016 and aims to assist clinicians, psychologists, dietitians and more adopt a person-centred, recovery-oriented approach to treatment. Over 100 people with lived experience of an eating disorder contributed to the Guide’s development and a companion report explaining the project’s research methodology is also available.

Living Well Action 7.4

Pathways to Mental Health Care in Western NSW

In 2015 the Commission contracted ReachOut to develop a pilot program in western NSW that aimed to increase the proportion of young people who sought support when they experienced mental distress. The program used a stepped-care approach in which support was offered at different intensities depending need, ranging from online and self-care to specialist (face to face) mental health services. The pilot provided useful insights about how online interventions can be integrated into local communities to increase support options and create local pathways to care. has drawn on the key learnings from this pilot to develop other projects including ReachOut Next Step.

Living Well Action 8.4.7

Establishing a NSW Electroconvulsive Therapy Research Network

In 2014-15, the Commission contracted the University of New South Wales to develop a network of hospitals that conduct electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), to contribute to a world-first clinical database with potential to identify the safest and most effective approaches to ECT, and to train clinicians in their use. The Clinical Alliance and Research in ECT (CARE) network conducts research into the relationship between different modes and doses of ECT and consumer responses. Thirty-two Australian hospitals participate, including 17 in NSW, and 75 NSW clinicians have been trained in cognitive testing for ECT consumers. Benchmarking has confirmed that ECT is effective and results in a substantial improvement in quality of life, but also that there is considerable clinical variation in ECT practice and outcomes. By improving data collection and analysis there is real potential for the CARE network, which has expanded to hospitals in Singapore, Spain and Belgium, to further improve clinical services and reduce variation in clinical practice.

Living Well Action 5.3.5

Last updated: 19 June 2017

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