- Sile Mpofu
At some stage in their lives, Australians will be affected by some form of mental illness. Mental illness is very common in Australia and at least 3% of the population experiences severe or recurrent illnesses and approximately 45% Australians experience mental problems at some point in their lives. (National health policy, 2008).
According to the world health organistaion, 2004, a mental health policy is a set of objectives, principles and objectives which are organized to improve mental health and decreasing the number of mental problems in a population. A mental health policy is described as a vision for the future and it assists in establishing a model for action. A policy is meant to be implemented to cover a longer period for example between 5 to 10 years. A mental health policy prioritises the government in assigning health in relation to other health and policies.
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The history of this policy dates back from March 1991, when it was first implemented. The early parts of the policy focused on structural changes in how and where the mental health services were delivered, as the years went by it improved and the plans implemented became broader focusing on partnerships between various sectors, prevention and early intervention and involving the role of consumers and carers. however, in 2006 the policy experienced a large scale of mental health problems including areas like housing, justice and employment.
The National health policy, 2008, aims at making sure that Australia has a good mental health system which will detect and come up with early interventions, promote recovery and ensure that every Australians affected by mental health illnesses has access to appropriate and effective treatment and also decreasing the stigma associated with mental illnesses. This mental health policy aims to increase the ability of youth, adults, children and older people to be able to realise that they have potential and to help them cope with normal life stresses and also their involvement in the community and lastly to assist those recovering from mental illnesses. (Mental health policy, 2008).
This policy aims at developing policies and interventions to improve the mental health problems in Australia, using available resources to assist in achieving the greatest possible benefits, providing the most effective services for the ones who require it and helping improve people affected by mental problems. (Australian health ministries, 2009).
Every Australian including those affected by mental illness have rights, they are entitled to take part within the community without experiencing discrimination, they should have easy access to literature, information and advocacy services, rehabilitation and even supported accommodation. People with mental illnesses must have the rights to be informed about their illnesses. The mental health legislation, 2008, is supposed exercise these rights.
There are a number of problems associated with mental illnesses, these include, relationship breakdown, bereavement, unemployment, being a carer and removal of family, the aforementioned problems are immediate contributing factors to mental health issues. Certain risk factors which comprise of drugs, alcohol use and physical health problems some include being excluded socially, issues of discrimination and bullying. (Who,2008).
Mental health for each individual is affected by personal factors and past experiences and cultural values. Daily lives and daily experiences influence mental health. (Lehtinen, Riikonen & Lahtinen, 1997).
Particular attention is focused on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, who have no homes and are unemployed. Refugees are at high risk of mental health problems and focus will need to be on them as well as they are a high risk of committing to suicide and previous risk of harming themselves is also a contributing factor. (Parkar, Fernandes & Weiss 2003).
Even though this policy embraces the wellness programs in a diverse manner, it is also commonly focused on exercise, better eating and managing morbidities like hypertension and diabetes, and forgetting to focus on the mental health issues. To make matters worse people experiencing mental health issues become unwilling to report their conditions in the fear of ruining their careers and losing their jobs, more so the stigma attached to mental health issues contributes to this. (WHO, 2008).
According to the mental health Policy 2008, employers tend not to see the warning signs of mental issues their workers experience until they look at their medical history and disability claims, this makes it difficult. Miles, M 2008, states that Mental health illnesses are very common in working adults because it was discovered that anxiety and depression medication were in the top three list of medications they take.
Carers can be family members or friends and will need information and materials to assist in caring for their loved ones, carers tend not to be acknowledged but they play a very important role, and act as advocates who help in achieving recovery goals and influencing policy and practices and help to bring a positive change. Carers require respect and acknowledgement for what they do for them to be able to help their loved ones. Carers have their own needs and are also at a risk of developing depression themselves. Stress and anxiety are also a problem faced by carers and their needs have to be recognized and their wellbeing be protected. Support programs and respite services for carers to have breaks every now and then. (National health policy, 2008).
The link between physical conditions and mental health are unnoticed or overlooked by employers because they concentrate on managing chronic conditions.
The national mental health policy 2008, provided a strategic framework which is desirable, it is looked at as a wide agenda to guide the coordinated efforts in mental health reform over the next four years. The framework focuses on three determinants of mental health include, social inclusion, freedom from being discriminated against, violence, and economic participation.
(McCubin, 1994) states that public health care for the under privileged is badly funded and this policy seeks out to improve this, there are three dominant discourse evidence in this policy which include, economic power, political/institutional power and ideological and discursive power.
Economic power entails decisions about who gets services and what sort of services they get, healthier people have unlimited access to mental health services available whereas the poor ones have little or no access at all. Political institutional power. Ideological/discursive power, this involves treating most forms of mental illnesses and ignoring political, economic and social causes, this discourse reinforces peoples problems and once they are implemented they are led into overcoming social interventions. (Prilleltensky & Gonick, 1996).
Words commonly used include, strategies, health systems, policies, interventions, engage, Indigenous Australian, aims, frameworks, community. Criminal justice system, cultural respect and safety, disability, mental illness, primary care services and recovery. Different words and phrases are used in policy this is done to avoid misleading and ambiguous phrases. (National mental health policy,2008).
The National Health Policy, 2008, recognises groups which can be highly affected by mental health problems, the main target of this policy is for individual who are homeless and disadvantaged, people exposed to trauma, and the ones that have chronic illnesses. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience more mental health problems compared to other Australians. This policy also recognises adolescents and older people because of their stages in life, however this policy does not target particular groups, this is yet to be identified and specific groups are mentioned by example. The mental health policy, 2008, states that the approach for a particular group will be based on evidence that is best available and to the tailored particular needs. The stakeholders in this particular policy include public mental health services, private mental health services, health care professionals, mental health service managers, carers, mental health consumers, families, mental health policy makers, mental health advocates, psychiatrists to help in assessing patients, psychologists, general practitioners, and psychologists. All these stakeholders come together to help fight mental health and assist all those affected. (National mental health, 2008).
Moral judgments expressed in this policy include looking at the right and wrong way of assisting people that are experiencing problems focusing on the positive actions and the consequences and evaluating the good and the bad outcomes associated with this this issue. (National health policy, 2008).
This policy brought together different sectors that have an impact on the mental health of people, their community and their loved ones, this entails general wellbeing aged care, community care, employment, housing and indigenous affairs, by working together these sectors have a very important role to play in the promotion of the mental health and wellbeing of the population and come with ways of promoting early interventions. Social inclusion is important for all of the community and this policy is making an effort to improve it. Groups that are at risk of social exclusion are those that are homeless and, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and children who are disadvantaged. Social inclusion on the other hand will recognises that mental health is essential to the wellbeing of families, communities and individuals. (National health care policy,2008).
The revised policy aims at representing a new commitment by all the health ministers and the ministers who are responsible for mental health to continued improvement of the mental health system of Australia.
The policy looks at a holistic government approach to mental health issues, (Council of Australian governments, 2006). The mental health strategy looks into the future and its job is to maintain the policy’s efforts and work on building the success of the past and also look into the new challenges which need changes and new ways of working together to come up with good outcomes. The Health minister involved will adopt the challenge of leadership in mental health reform and the requirement for greater association and commitment across government to look at and sustain change. The mental health reform was increased by the government recently with it investing in clinical and community support services. This policy is known to be the next step in coming up with a better mental health system, its outcomes and actions from the policy that will make the necessary difference. (Council of australian governments, 2006).
The world health organisation, 2001 came up with three ideas to improve mental health, these include viewing mental health as being an essential part of health, mental health being a lot more than absence of illness and mental health being linked with behavior and physical health.
The mental health policy, 2008, aims at acknowledging the indigenous heritage and the different collaboration of Aboriginal people’s culture and their heritage to the Australian society, more so it also recognises indigenous people’s rights to the statuses and culture, their land and self-determination.
This policy has different types of evidence which suggest that mental health as well as its determinants can be improved in
relation with unplanned or even planned changes in the social and physical environment. The policy suggests that enough justification last for programme and policy interventions followed by evaluation of process and outcomes for individuals from low income back grounds. The policy plays a role in monitoring the effects on mental health of the social and environmental changes in any individual’s life. All these interventions will broaden the evidence the foundation to encourage solutions for a better mental health.
The interests of all Australians affected by mental health were represented, but mainly Aboriginal people and children that are disadvantaged. (National health policy, 2008).
Different solutions which target those at risk are comprehensive and they range from prevention and early interventions through providing treatments to continued care and preventing relapse. The main focus on recovery looks closely at developing new meaning and purpose and the being able to pursue certain goals within the community. The target should aim at assisting the whole population and promote mental health and wellbeing amongst individual affected by metal illnesses including their carers and families. (National health policy, 2008).
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The mental health sector, 2008 is responsible for coming up with solutions in this policy. The mental health sector provides properly tailored, culturally respective, evidence based delivery, responding effectively to individual needs. The solutions aim aStake holders are very important for a policy to be successful, for this policy to be created the stakeholders were motivated by the increasing the number people affected by mental health issues, helping people with mental health create a better frame of mind, helping people get better and take control of lives and creating positive changest biological, psychological and social factors, more so aim to assist or intervene earlier to help reduce symptoms, improve problems and mental issues.
People with mental health illnesses will have access to non-government services, support from their peers, or acquire long term housing options. (Mental health policy, 2008). The policy looks at the importance of better mental illnesses for the community as a whole, its vision is for the continual reform of mental health delivery for all sectors. Everyone affected by mental health problems will be expected to receive services that meet and are supportive of their needs, other expectations will be for them to be involved in their own care and recovery.
The success of this policy combines an approach involving many various government agencies and communities to deliver equal programs for individuals, the community and system levels. A lot of effort in the mental health promotion needs to take place beyond the healthcare system, in the sectors which impact on the daily living of people and the community to support development of resilience and maintaining mental wellbeing. This comprises of education, proper housing, employment, good justice and welfare of individuals. For a successful policy mental health services are supposed to deliver services in a way that is not judgmental and must be respectful. (National mental health policy, 2008).
After this policy was implemented it proved to be effective as it brought about changes to those affected by mental issues. There proved to be lesser anxiety and depression moods, less misuse of substances. The physical health of affected people improved as well as productivity at work, home and school. Violence and crime even decreased by a great margin. Although there was still a lot work that needs to be done the policy has done a lot of work and changes to of the people. (Vichealth, 2009).
The mental health policy, 2008, after its implementation helped in reducing health inequalities and also improved quality of life including life expectancy, sense of self determination was improved as well as self-esteem, and sense of belonging. (Vic health, 2009).
Mental health evidence, promoting, 2004, retrieved from
World health organisation, 2004, retrieved from
National mental health policy, 2008 retrieved from
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