13 September 2018

A local cross sector forum has been held with over 80 stakeholders working together to identify how to improve mental health outcomes for Canberrans.  Opened by Minister for Mental Health Shane Rattenbury, the joint ACT Health and Capital Health Network (CHN) forum was the first step in working towards a better integrated mental health system for the ACT, through the development of a Regional Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan. 

In the ACT over 75,000 people experience mental illness in any 12 month period.  Anxiety related disorders are the most common impacting on 11.8% of the population, followed closely by mood disorders, such as depression (10.1%).  CHN’s ACT PHN Mental Health Program and ACT Health are working in partnership to develop a joint Regional Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan for the ACT. 

Capital Health Network (CHN) Chief Executive, Adj Prof Gaylene Coulton said the key priority areas identified from the forum will guide the joint Regional Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan. 

“The key priorities included the need for clinical and non-clinical mental health services to be more easily available and accessible, support for consumers, carers and family members to understand when and where to seek help and a focus on the provision of services in the community to ensure people have their needs met when they first become unwell.”

“Over 80 stakeholders who have significant experience, knowledge and expertise in regards to services and the mental health system helped determine these key priority areas.  The regional plan will identify and address local factors in suicide prevention and mental health which require strategic, cross sectoral agreement so we can better identify how we improve and drive a sustainable comprehensive system,” said Adj Prof Gaylene Coulton. 

The regional plan will inform coordinated funding of services across the stepped care spectrum of need for services and across the lifespan. 

“The priority areas determined will inform the work that CHN and ACT Health do in partnership and associated individual, service and system level outcomes.  We will continue to work with stakeholders to develop the plan, including the key priorities and proposed strategies to address these,” said Adj Prof Gaylene Coulton. 

The Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan specifies the need for Primary Health Networks (PHN) and Local Health Networks to complete joint regional planning for the development and implementation of integrated mental health services.