Why these reforms need to happen. Now.

When a government report is released, it is so easy to just watch it fade in and out of the news cycle and not think much more about it. Because god, how many are there? This committee, that committee, all publishing documents that will influence policy, but really, us out in the general public couldn’t care less what that 500+ page piece says – it seems far away, removed almost, from the realities of everyday life.

But last week, a document – and a big one at that – was released that deserves to get all the attention. The National Mental Health Commission published their National Review of Mental Health Programmes and Services. It really is a monster, with volumes of submissions put forward by members of the public affected by mental illness and Australia’s mental health experts alike. This document has pulled together research conducted by the crème de la crème of Australia’s mental health researchers, clinicians, policy-makers, movers and shakers – it is comprehensive, and most importantly provides practical recommendations that are able to be implemented right now.

I, of course, am naturally interested in this piece of work. I work in the sector, and mental illness has been part of my life for years.

And this is what I’ve been waiting for.

I stopped using the word luck a while ago, but truly in terms of receiving the mental health care that I needed, I am bloody lucky. And it just shouldn’t be that way. I live in a country that is envied by the rest of the world for our healthcare system, which is designed to catch it’s people when they need help, regardless of age, employment status, family background or geographical location; luck shouldn’t play a part in the equation.

It is quite a harsh realisation that when I really needed it, my country’s system of healthcare not only made getting the help I needed tricky, but confusing. This system, as it stands, is reliant on per-chance good fortune. I happen to have a set of parents and a sister that realised there was something wrong. I happen to have a GP that recommended I start seeing a psychologist. I happened to have a doctor during my emergency room visits who supported me in every way I needed at that time. And I happen to have a wider family network and group of friends that have been so wonderful in looking after me from that point on. How lucky am I?

This enormous report, full of numbers and graphs, is all about real people and their stories. It is a blueprint for change, and is informed by the best of the best. It will entirely overhaul our mental health system, creating an environment where people will be able to reach for the care they need when they need it. We’re just waiting on the action now, and quite frankly, we’ve already waited long enough. Let’s get it going.

PS: You can check out the report here.


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