State follows doctor’s orders

The NSW State Government is continuing its reform of mental health services and has accepted major recommendations of an independent review of the Mental Health Commission.

Key suggestions from Dr David Chaplow’s review include a greater focus on community outcomes and greater engagement with people living with mental illness. 

Mental Health Minister Tanya Davies released the five-year review saying 16 of the 17 recommendations would be adopted. “The Review also notes that the time has come to revisit Living Well (strategy document) and I have had discussions with the Mental Health Commissioner about beginning that process,” Mrs Davies said.

The NSW Government is investing a record $2.1 billion for mental health services in 2018-19, including $100 million to continue building a community mental health system. These initiatives form part of the NSW Government’s mental health reform response to the Commission’s Living Well strategic plan.

For the Review of the Mental Health Commission of NSW: Report to Parliament 2018 and Government response visit: www.health.nsw.gov.au/mentalhealth/mhcreview.

Call for greater investment 

Chronic underfunding and underinvestment by successive governments have left Victorians with a mental health system that is trailing well behind the rest of Australia, according to new Mental Health Victoria analysis.

Mental Health Victoria CEO Angus Clelland said many Victorians would be shocked to learn the extent to which the state now lags nationally and the growing impact on consumers and on emergency services, hospitals, homelessness and the justice system.

"We have gone from being a national leader and a model for community-based preventative care to a mental health system that has been in decline for years and is below average on a national scale," Mr Clelland said.

"That is only going to become worse in the next year under the National Disability Insurance Scheme as critical community programs are defunded and nearly 1,000 specialist health worker positions are lost.

“Sadly, we stand as a warning to other states and territories. The Saving Lives, Saving Money report outlines an economic case for investing in the state’s mental health system, backed by data from the Australian Institute for Health and Welfare and independent investment analysis.  

Mental health in top three

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare “Australia’s health 2018” report has found mental illness is in the top three chronic health conditions, after cancer and heart disease. Some key points from the report: 

  • The three chronic conditions that contribute most to the disease burden in Australia are cancer, coronary heart disease and mental illness. 
  • Mental illness and substance use disorders are responsible for 12% of the total disease burden in Australia—the third highest disease group after cancer and cardiovascular diseases. 

Read a summary of the findings related to mental health here: https://mhvic.org.au/news-events/latest-news/341-2018-06-25-03-10-36

Does what we think about getting old affect health?

What people think about the world colours their thoughts and perceptions, so it’s only natural that our attitude to growing old has an impact on health and quality of life. At least that is the finding of a new study on worldwide attitudes to age.

New data analysis shows a strong connection between how we view old age, how well we age and the effects seen across the world. 

Individuals with a positive attitude towards old age are likely to live longer and in better health than those with a negative attitude. And those with a negative view of aging are more likely to suffer a heart attack, a stroke or die several years sooner. 

Older people in countries with low levels of respect for the elderly are at risk of worse mental and physical health and higher levels of relative poverty.

Not-for-profit Orb Media compiled data from 150,000 people in 101 countries to learn about their levels of respect for older people. The data showed the level of respect varied significantly from country to country. 

Healthy aging is increasingly important: Outside of Africa, countries everywhere are aging rapidly. If population trends continue, by 2050 nearly one out of six people in the world will be over 65, and close to half a billion will be older than 80. 

Hearing Voices and Trauma

Many people who have voice hearing experiences (sometimes referred to as auditory verbal hallucinations) are also survivors of difficult or traumatic life events. There is growing evidence that, for some people, traumatic or difficult life events may play a role in distressing voice hearing experiences. We are only beginning to understand how these events might relate to voice hearing and how we might be able to help voice hearers with psychological therapies that address these past traumatic or difficult events. 

The Voices Clinic at Swinburne University is hoping to answer some of these questions with a new research study.

The RECALL study is evaluating whether a trauma-focused psychological therapy that aims to process and make sense of memories of traumatic events can help with voice hearing experiences. We are currently recruiting participants for this study at Swinburne University, Hawthorn, Victoria. We are seeking people who: identify as having experienced traumatic life events, currently hear voices, and are interested in accessing a trauma-focused therapy with a Clinical Psychologist.

Taking part in the RECALL study involves attending for three face-to-face assessments (answering questions and completing questionnaires relating to your mental health and life events), undertaking six weekly sessions of a trauma-focused therapy with a Clinical Psychologist, and using a smartphone app for 12 days (six before the therapy and six after the therapy) to answer questions about voices and memories. More information can be found at https://recallstudy.webnode.com/

Scholarships open

Scholarships of up to $8000 fostering women’s leadership are available through a new national initiative aimed at women working in the healthcare sector.  

To find out more and register interest by September 7, here: https://www.wla.edu.au/health

Nominations for the prize

The annual Australian Mental Health Prize, which recognises Australians who have made outstanding contributions to either the promotion of mental health, or the prevention/treatment of mental illness, is open for nominations. To enter, nominees must provide a CV and 200 words outlining the work being undertaken and how it is making an impact. Entries close on 7 September.

Nomination forms: http://australianmentalhealthprize.org.au

Deadline extended 

Mental Health Victoria and Community Mental Health Australia invite you to submit content to present at the 2nd Annual NDIS & Mental Health Conference 2018, to be held at Melbourne at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre from 31 October-1 November 2018. The conference theme is “Mental Health Policy, Practice & Reform: Getting it Right in a Time of Change”.  The deadline is now July 27.

Details: https://www.ndismentalhealthconference.com.au/callforcontent

Family and friends award

Nominations are open for The Tandem Awards, which recognise outstanding contributions to family inclusive practice in the mental health sector. Individuals or services within the clinical, community or private sector can be nominated, including providers of NDIS support and services to children and young people. 

Read more: http://www.tandemcarers.org.au/awards2018.php 

What’s on

Health Metrics World Conference - Digital Transformation for Health and Ageing, Melbourne, 26-27 July
Ending Homelessness Together, Melbourne, 6-7 August
ANZMH International Mental Health Conference, Gold Coast, 8-10 August
TheMHS Conference, Adelaide, 28-31 August
Care Expo, Brisbane, 14-15 September
Australian Psychosis Conference, Sydney, 14-16 September
42nd Annual IHF World Hospital Congress, Brisbane, 10–12 October
NDIS & Mental Health Conference - Mental Health Policy, Practice & Reform: Getting It Right in A Time of Change, Melbourne, 31 October and 1 November
Australian Rural & Remote Mental Health Symposium, Hobart, 15–17 October