This week marks five years since the Mental Health Commission of NSW came into being. Our job is big and broad: to monitor, review and improve the mental health system and the mental health and wellbeing of everyone in NSW.
From the beginning, we sought your advice: How should we do this? What are the priorities? You helped us come up with a blueprint for change in Living Well: A Strategic Plan for Mental Health in NSW 2014-2024, whichset a new benchmark for a person-centred, recovery-oriented mental health system. We’ve been working ever since to make sure the NSW Government and community put it into action.
There have been some real wins which indicate that from the highest strategic levels to grass-roots community responses, people are starting to ‘own’ the issue of mental health, understanding that each of us is part of the solution. Work to prevent suicide in NSW is more coordinated than it has ever been; employers big and small are making a monumental cultural shift and proactively fostering employees’ wellbeing; and the voices of individuals and families affected by mental illness are louder and larger, including in the halls of the NSW Parliament. And this is just a sample of the issues the Commission has been working on.
Of course, we are not done. Every week I meet at least one person or family that could have been helped earlier, more effectively or more respectfully. The Commission will continue to take a bird’s eye view of the system and work to unravel the parts that leave people hurt, suffering and alone. But this week, on our anniversary, I would like to thank and acknowledge all of you who have helped us come this far. A system cannot change because one organisation wants it to. It takes all of us working together and pulling in the same direction to get there.
Let’s keep going.
NSW Mental Health Commissioner