1 May 2019

Youth first on Office for Mental Health and Wellbeing's to-do list

| Ian Bushnell
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Minister for Mental Health Shane Rattenbury (right), with Dr Elizabeth Moore and Director General of ACT Health, Michael De’Ath. Photo: Supplied

An immediate review of the situation of children and young people to identify concrete actions in areas of need is first on the to-do list of the Office for Mental Health and Wellbeing announced today.

The Office’s Work Plan for 2019-2021 also will have lead agencies develop a Wellbeing Index to help measure its performance.

Minister for Mental Health Shane Rattenbury said the Work Plan placed a clear focus on working across a person’s life to improve their mental health and wellbeing, and would take a holistic approach involving Government agencies and non-government organisations.

It aimed to reduce the growing demand for mental health services, through providing an integrated and more effective response.

“The Government established the Office for Mental and Health and Wellbeing to work across the community to ensure people experiencing poor mental health can access the most appropriate services and supports at the right place and at the right time,” Mr Rattenbury said.

“We know that mental health can impact a person, their family and community, in a number of ways. People living with mental health challenges may also experience poverty, housing insecurity, poor physical health, unemployment, and stigmatisation. This can all have a significant impact on a person’s mental health.

“That’s why we’re working across Government and with the community sector to ensure that Canberrans can access the right services at the right time, supporting their ongoing mental health recovery.”

The Plan has been co-designed with stakeholders across the mental health system from those with lived experience, carers, non-government organisations, government and private sector providers.

The Office will focus on issues across the whole of Government, working closely with other agencies to realise an integrated approach to mental health and wellbeing, suicide and self-harm prevention.

It will also work with agencies, within and outside of Government, to implement and evaluate existing mental health and wellbeing plans, and with existing complaints agencies to identify systemic issues, as well as promote mentally healthy communities and workplaces.

Office for Mental Health and Wellbeing Coordinator General, Dr Elizabeth Moore said the Plan was designed to build upon what’s working now and took a whole-of-system and a broad whole-of-community perspective.

“It’s imperative that we place a mental health and wellbeing lens in our broader social and economic planning,” Dr Moore said.

“Mental health literacy is for everyone, not just those affected, and we need to promote wellbeing as a necessity to help our mental health and ultimately we need to ensure that the strengths of this plan reach out to those most vulnerable to suicide.

“This plan deliberately shifts the emphasis of policy and service need across multiple areas of society – education, workplaces, the environment, the justice system, housing and transport, to name a few.

“Each offers critical touch-points in which the mental health of a person or a group of people can be affected and ultimately improved.

“This aligns with similar approaches overseas such as that of the New Zealand Government’s determination to bring about a greater focus on kindness and wellbeing to our broader society.”


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