Governments should act courageously to counter mental health problems and ensure a continued focus on mental health support, according to the inaugural annual mental health report released by the National Mental Health Commission (NMHC).


In releasing the A Contributing Life report, NHMC Chair, Professor Allan Fels, said that it is crucial that the Prime Minister and State Governments reaffirm their commitment to mental health issues through COAG.


“It is important that the Prime Minister gave mental health a seat at the top table, making it a matter for Premiers and Chief Ministers, and putting mental health in her portfolio,” Professor Fels said.


Professor Fels said the Commission had been given licence to ‘tell it how it is’ and had uncovered some hard truths.


The report concluded that while Australia leads the world in progressive mental health policies, it fails to properly deliver the services. To counter this, the report has made ten specific recommendations that centre on:

  • reducing the early death of Australians with severe mental illness and improving their physical health
  • minimising the use of seclusion and restraint
  • increasing access to mental health services from 6-8 to 12 per cent of Australia’s population
  • making the mental health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples a higher priority
  • stopping people from being discharged from mental health services into homelessness or unstable homes
  • increasing the employment rates of people with mental illness and paying greater attention to supporting them at work
  • increasing access to home based visiting to support families and children
  • providing effective, local interventions to prevent suicide


“Every Australian will experience a mental health difficulty themselves at some stage, or they will be impacted by the experiences of someone close to them.  One in five Australian adults experience a mental health difficulty in any given year, and an estimated 7.29 million Australians aged 16 to 85 have a lived experienced of mental illness,” Professor Fels said.


Professor Fels said the report shows an ‘appalling’ dichotomy in health between those with a mental health issue and the broader community.


“Their health is worse than the general community on just about every measure.  People with a severe mental illness have their life expectancy reduced by 25 years on average  due to the increased likelihood of heart related conditions, diabetes and obesity. There are many contributing factors and there are no simple answers, but this demands immediate action,” Professor Fels said.


The full report can be found here