28 May 2020

The mental health commissions and leaders across Australia have come together during the time of the pandemic to share local learnings and challenges in meeting the mental health and wellbeing needs of individuals and communities. We have heard from our communities about the difficulties from social isolation, disruption to school and work, and the heightened challenges for mental health and wellbeing.  

Our joint communique acknowledges the resilience of our community, as well as the added pressures that isolation and financial uncertainty bring. It also looks forward with hope that the new resources directed to mental health services and keeping communities connected, will help us all come through this stronger together.

Joint Mental Health Commissions and leaders communique

Australia’s federal and state mental health commissioners and leaders have joined forces to insist that responses to the COVID-19 pandemic must tackle physical and mental health and social and economic issues on an equal and integrated footing.

We remain committed to working collaboratively to understand the pandemic impacts on the community’s mental health and wellbeing and people’s access to the mental health supports and services. 

Reducing the spread of the virus has resulted in disruption to social connections, community activities and everyday life. For some, this has meant loss of work and income, increased financial worries, isolation, supporting school children at home while trying to work at home and run a household and added stresses from living in close quarters during lockdown. For those living with a mental health issue, this stress can have a greater impact. 

We acknowledge these difficult circumstances, but also the strength of individuals to support each other, knowing that the critical days of the pandemic will pass. 

While many may struggle with mental health issues -- some for the first time -- it is essential to reinforce that services and supports are available and can make a tremendous difference to peoples’ wellbeing, particularly early intervention services. A priority is maintaining awareness of those services, and ensuring they are used. It is critical that people with existing mental health issues have access to responsive and effective services, and that they are encouraged to come forward and seek help.

We applaud the efforts of all governments to prioritise and fund new and expanded mental health and wellbeing supports during this time.

We welcome the income support initiatives to reduce the financial pressures on individuals, families, and the business community. 

We recognise that a person’s mental health and wellbeing are tied to their sense of purpose, and that loss of a job, a business and the opportunity to have something meaningful to do can add to the stresses people are experiencing. The disruption to daily life on the scale that we have experienced during the pandemic should not be underestimated. 

We advocate a person-focussed response to the pandemic, where mental health and physical health impacts are tackled on an equal footing, along with the social and economic issues in people’s lives and livelihoods.

We support the holistic directions of the National Mental Health and Wellbeing Pandemic Response Plan and will work collaboratively across jurisdictions and the mental health sector to ensure the best outcomes for people are achieved now and over coming years. 

  • Catherine Lourey, Mental Health Commission of New South Wales 
  • Ivan Frkovic, Mental Health Commission - Queensland
  • Dr Lynne Coulson Barr OAM, Mental Health Complaints Commissioner – Victoria
  • Dr Elizabeth Moore, Office of Mental Health and Wellbeing – ACT
  • Jennifer McGrath, Mental Health Commission – Western Australia
  • Christine Morgan – National Mental Health Commission
  • David Kelly, Heather Novak & Sharon Lawn – Mental Health Commission, South Australia

Media enquiries

Joanna Durney, Mental Health Commission of New South Wales: 0438 769 185

Any community members who are concerned about their own or a loved one’s mental health are encouraged to speak with trusted support services such as a family GP. Alternatively, find local services via Wayahead’s NSW Mental Health Service Directory  or call one of the following support lines:

  • NSW Mental Health Line: 1800 011 511
  • Lifeline: 13 11 14
  • Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467
  • Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800
  • Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636

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Last updated: 10 November 2020