SPA CEO on new strategic plan for mental health in NSW

18 December 2014

A welcome read for the Christmas New Year break is the newly released ‘Living Well: a strategic plan for mental Health in NSW 2014-2024.’ It is a good report that was sadly overshadowed by the tragic events which unfolded in Sydney at the beginning of the week.

In my first scan of the plan what pleased me immensely was to see the inclusion of the Collective Impact framework. This recognises its relevance to mental health and suicide prevention for its potential to address complex social problems and create lasting large scale change. This approach has been adopted by the National Coalition for Suicide Prevention with an agenda to halve suicides in Australia in 10 years. SPA, as the backbone organisation, looks forward to working within NSW to advance this challenging agenda.

The most successful initiatives that have been delivered within this framework bring together the three sectors – public, private and community – so that there is a common understanding, sharing of resources and continuous feedback loops to improve performance. Adopting this multi-level and multi-faceted approach is critical to bringing about the changes we need to make.

The other factor that stands out is the strong focus that the Plan puts on the active involvement of those with lived experience. Harnessing the wisdom of those who can speak first-hand about their experiences and provide critical insights into the system challenges will also help us understand and make vital the changes to mental health system in NSW. The Mental Health Commission of NSW’s promise to actively involve those with lived experience in the design and development of systems and processes is a welcome step forward; a commitment SPA’s Lived Experience Network will be keeping a keen eye on.

The emphasis on prevention is to be applauded as it has potential to change lives forever. Too often we leave those most vulnerable to navigate the system themselves. The Plan calls for moving the focus from crisis-driven responses to prevention. If this can be achieved our ambitious and challenging agenda to halve suicides in 10 years may be well within our reach.

Best wishes
Sue Murray