The much anticipated first ever National Report Card into Mental Health and Suicide Prevention was released this morning, with Prof Allan Fels, Chair of the National Mental Health Commission, describing the statistics related to physical illness and early death among people with a mental health difficulty as “appalling”.

The report card also found: people with a severe mental illness, on average, live for 25 years less than other Australian because they have an increased likelihood of heart related conditions, diabetes and obesity; and physical health and mental health are “weaved intricately together” and should be treated in relation to one another.

Upon releasing the report card, the Commission said that whilst Australia leads the world, with progressive mental health policy, it fell down in delivery.  The report card identifies 4 priorities for action and makes 10 recommendations:

    1. A Regular independent survey of people’s experiences of and access to all mental health services to drive improvement.
    2. Increase access to timely and appropriate mental health services and support from 6-8 to 12 percent of Australians.
    3. Reduce the use of involuntary practices and work to eliminate seclusion and restraint.
    4. Governments must set targets and work together to reduce early death and improve the physical health of people living with mental illness.
    5. Include the mental health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in ‘Closing the Gap’ targets.
    6. A national commitment to safety and quality of care for mental health services.
    7. Invest in healthy families and communities to increase resilience and reduce crisis services.
    8. Increase the levels of participation of people with mental health difficulties in employment to match best international levels.
    9. Increase access to stable and safe places so that no one is discharged from hospitals, custodial care, mental health or drug and alcohol related treatment services into homelessness.
    10. Prevent and reduce suicides and support those who attempt suicide through timely local responses and reporting.
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