Poor mental health has an enormous impact on people’s lives. As we know, it effects not just individuals, but carers, families and workplaces. Of course, this all happens at the community level.

Which is why the Productivity Commission inquiry gives us an opportunity to examine the effect of mental health on people’s ability to participate in and prosper in the community and at work. It is investigating the effects poor mental health has more generally on our economy and productivity, not just on the health sector.

Rather than being focused on health spending, the Commission will focus on wider social and economic questions. It will look at how governments across Australia, employers, professional and community groups in healthcare, education, employment, social services, housing and justice can contribute to improving mental health for people of all ages and cultural backgrounds.

Health Minister Greg Hunt has already met with state and territory health and mental health ministers as well as the National Mental Health Commission seeking their views on the Inquiry’s scope and terms of reference. Wellways Australia will also be making a submission.

Due to report to the government in 18 months, the Commission is expected to also consult consumers, carers and those living in regional areas. The Commission is accepting submissions until 5 April and will hold public consultations.

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