I am pleased to present my first Annual Report since commencing as the Chief Executive Officer at the National Mental Health Commission. It is an honour to be appointed to the role and, since joining in March 2019, I have been impressed by the professionalism of the Commission team and the dedication of everyone to improving mental health and suicide prevention outcomes for the community.
I have also been humbled listening to the experiences of consumers and carers and impressed with the dedication and commitment of those working in the sector.
This report sets out the Commission’s performance for the 2018-19 year, and details our work and achievements. During this period, the Commission continued to lead projects that improve the policy, programs, services and systems that support mental wellbeing and suicide prevention in Australia. The Commission continued to strengthen its operations and improve efficiency, and align resources to deliver Government priorities.
On 4 October 2018, the Commission published Monitoring Mental Health and Suicide Prevention: National Report 2018 which reports on the performance of the mental health system and the progress and outcomes of key national reforms. This report also examined the social determinants of health and their impact on mental illness.
Our first report under the Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan: Monitoring Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Reform: Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan, 2018 Progress Report, was delivered to COAG Health Ministers in October 2018. This report provides an update of implementation progress up until 30 June 2018 and establishes a baseline for the 13 available identified performance indicators in the Fifth Plan. The Commission also conducted a survey of consumers and carer experiences of mental health services, in relation to the eight priority areas identified in the Fifth Plan and the results will serve as a baseline from which to measure progress.
Another significant achievement this year was the launch of the Australian Mental Health Leaders Fellowship in July 2018. This Fellowship is the first of its kind in Australia designed to meet the needs of emerging leaders with a passion for mental health. The first cohort of twenty participants commenced in July, and the second cohort of twenty participants commenced in October 2018. Both cohorts graduated in April 2019, with a third cohort scheduled to commence later in the year.
Since establishment, the Commission has sought to put mental health on the economic agenda. The potential economic and social gains from mental health reform from investing in prevention are considerable. This year, the Commission released an analysis of ten prevention interventions modelled using a return on investment framework. This project looked at the potential benefits of the ten specific interventions, both in terms of improved mental health, and their impact on the Australian economy, through levels of improved productivity and health system cost savings.
The Commission welcomed the establishment of the Productivity Commission’s inquiry into the role of improving mental health to support economic participation and enhancing productivity and economic growth. The Commission recommended the inquiry as an important step to ensure investment in mental health is efficient and effective and made a written submission in April 2019. We continue to work with the Productivity Commission throughout the inquiry process.
Achievements and progress on significant projects throughout the year are detailed further in this report.
Thank you to all the consumers, carers, families and stakeholders who have contributed to, and informed the Commission’s work throughout 2018-19.
I would also like to thank Ms Maureen Lewis Deputy CEO for her leadership as Interim CEO of the Commission prior to my commencement and the Executive team for leading the delivery of the achievements this year.
Finally, thank you to our Chair Mrs Lucy Brogden AM, our Commissioners and all our staff whose dedication and hard work enables the Commission to work towards its goal of improving the mental health and wellbeing of all Australians.