The Mental Health Commission of New South Wales was established in July 2012, and just over two years later it delivered to government a ten year mental health reform strategy, Living Well: A Strategic Plan for Mental Health in NSW 2014-2024. The community, mental health sector and workforce, and people with lived experience and their families and carers told the Commission what was urgently required to improve the system in providing support, responses and opportunities for recovery. Living Well’s actions and priorities guided agencies across government in implementing these directions. The Commission then commenced a program of work to develop new understandings, build innovation and evidence, and report on issues in support of the program of mental health reform. Five years on we have been independently reviewed.
Along with the development of Living Well we have contributed to an extensive range of outcomes. The importance of peer work in transforming services, and co-design with people with lived experience of mental health issues, and their families and carers, is increasingly recognised. Good mental health is more and more understood to be the responsibility of a broad range of government agencies and community organisations. Discrete projects such as the Mental Health Atlas and developing a systems approach to suicide prevention; and publications such as Medications and Mental Illness: Perspectives and Towards a Just System, have changed community and policy conversations and seeded new approaches to planning services and addressing complex issues.
There is more work to be done and it is therefore timely to develop a strategic plan – Key Directions – to guide the Commission's next five years.