Productivity Commission Inquiry into Mental Health Issues

Dear Commissioners,

Thanks for the opportunity to write regarding the Productivity Commission Inquiry into Mental Health Issues Paper titled ‘The Social and Economic Benefits of Improving Mental Health’ and; the complimentary outcomes of the Family Mental Health Support Services program.

drummond street services acknowledge that if undertaken comprehensively, the Productivity Commission Inquiry into Mental Health could:

  • Identify the implications of improved mental health on participation, productivity and the economy, and; develop a framework to measure and report policy outcomes and investment returns
  • Examine and build recommendations on how sectors beyond health, including education, employment, social services, housing and justice, can contribute to improving mental health across a range of populations as well as support better outcomes for people in recovery;
  • Examine the efficacy of current mental health, suicide prevention programs and other investments (such as policy, Inquiries and investments not limited to the health portfolio which address mental health impacts and determinants).

It is our hope the inquiry outcomes will direct future government investments across a spectrum of interventions including; prevention, early intervention, crisis and recovery services; and as per the broad scope of the inquiry – across a wide range of sectors. Investment over the life course also has the potential to reduce the costs of mental illness on communities.

drummond street would like to draw attention to the social and economic cost benefits of the Commonwealth Early Intervention – Targeted Mental Health Program: Family Mental Health Support Services (FMHSS) and the potential of this program to reduce both the long-term impacts of mental illness on children and whole families; and the likelihood of mental illness onset among children and young people. This program provides early intervention and intensive support to vulnerable children and young people (0-18yrs) at risk of or affected by mental illness through community-based, whole-of-family support.

FMHSS has a focus on early support for young children and recognises mental health risks/signs and symptoms emerge early and respond well to interventions which are implemented as early in life as possible.

FMHSS has been operating for over a decade and was re-orientated in 2011-2012 to support children and their families, early in life and early in onset. It is one of the few current investments nationally with the aim of mental health early intervention and prevention.

It is our view FMHSS has received insufficient Government attention. This is despite its significant cost benefits to State and Commonwealth mental health programs and initiatives. FMHSS has a national footprint, with 121 services operating across Australia (1). These include regional and remote locations, albeit at comparatively smaller funding base at these sites

drummond street’s Vision is ‘Promoting Wellbeing for Life’, which embodies our commitment to the provision of early in life, early in onset supports across a full spectrum of mental health interventions; (and other interventions) which are evidenced to improve mental health, wellbeing and the resilience of individuals and families.

We believe it is vital to assess funding models and assumptions, and ensure emphasis is placed on using relevant evidence. This includes evidence which factors significant life transitions; applies a social health determinants framework and public health models.

drummond street looks forward to the draft productivity report and I welcome any further queries regarding the content of this discussion paper.

Kind Regards,

Karen Field (CEO drummond street services)