Free Essay Describing the Case of Australia: Mental Health System Change

Published: 2022-09-28
Free Essay Describing the Case of Australia: Mental Health System Change
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Mental health Healthcare policy
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1348 words
12 min read

The mental health system in Australia has undergone massive re-organization and restructuring to accommodate progressive changes associated with recovery. The system is composed of both private and public sector practice upon which the mental health services are extended. There also exists alongside them, a substantial not-for-profit sector which plays an important role in extending the provision and acquisition of these services. The public sector service is under state governments with support and funding from the federal government. Therefore, extensive variations exist from state to state in term of the underlying policies and laws defining public mental health care aspects.

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In the past, Australia used to depend heavily on independent stand-alone psychiatric hospitals, but this trend has been disposed, and in its place, psychiatry units have been established in hospitals and their services supplemented by community-based service centers.

Among the not-for-profit services available in Australia include the government-supported programs of disability support centers which offer services in the lines of rehabilitation, advice, housing, and employment assistance.

The for-profit sector is composed of private practicing psychiatrists who offer both inpatient and outpatient services in mental health recovery. The government plays an important role in the thriving of this sector especially the psychiatry practice where it provides guaranteed payments for services offered.

Policy changes

Policy changes have been widely undertaken in Australia to help the adoption and application of effective recovery models, frameworks and principles to enhance the delivery of the services. This can be traced back into the 90's where the state governments had the autonomy and control over the state of mental health care within their precincts and boundaries. This has however experienced changes in recent times following developments in the control of legislation with the federal government taking more control over policy-making and direction.

A series of national mental health plans have been rolled out in Australia providing for restructuring and redirection of policies underlying the provision of mental health services in the country. Among the key changes are the incorporation of mental health services and psychiatry wings into the general hospitals. The integration of mental health services into mainstream health services has been instrumental in ensuring improved outcomes for service consumers.

NGO's have also been instrumental in the promotion and application of recovery in their programs and guidelines. The sector has been key in the provision of psycho-social rehabilitation services aimed at restoring the individual back to community functioning and personal-wellbeing. These services are offered in environments that are distinct and separate from clinical settings which have been stressed as one of the key elements that help an individual with mental-health illnesses generate hope and acquire facilitation of social relationships. The establishment of such service rendering centers that are separate and distinct from the clinical environment has been found to be one of the main forces that have led to the success of recovery as a model for mental health.

As an example, Guidelines for the treatment for schizophrenia and other mental health disorders have been updated over time to reflect the need for the early and active use of medications and the importance of psycho-social services. The guidelines reflect the need for contextual determinants and influencers of service and interventions in relation to the individual's social and cultural environment (Warner, 2009). These include among other practices, the administration of medication as early as possible which has been established as crucial towards minimizing the possibilities of secondary morbidities.

The Australian scene of recovery models involves the intersection of both personal goals and clinical-medical interventions. The need for the intersection between the two scopes of recovery process cannot be overstated. The convergence of services provided in mainstream hospitals and services from psychosocial, personal-based recovery services culminates in the overall development of recovery frameworks focused on mental-health wellness and efficiency.

The National Framework For mental recovery

In recent years, major developments have been realized in Australia through the release of the national framework for mental-recovery which has led to the policy that unifies national, state and local government's formal adoption of a recovery approach. The framework was underlined with extensive research, consultation and collaboration of effort between those with experience in mental health illness such as patients, carers, service providers, and other stakeholders.

The framework emphasizes the need to evaluate recovery in the context of social impacts. The framework exemplifies the significance of social relations and context among them oppression, gender, discrimination and social consequences of mental illness. The framework references conceptual models to recovery that identifies four steps including; finding and maintaining hope, re-establishing a positive identity, achieving meaningful living and taking responsibility and control (Andresen, Caputi, & Oades, 2006).

The framework leads to policies that are aimed at ensuring cultural change, change in attitudes, competency in practice, and a review of skills among practitioners emphasizing on experience-gained expertise (Australian Health Ministers Advisory Council, 2013).

The framework's ultimate goal involves improving outcomes and life of mentally ill individuals. In Australia, reforms in federal and state policies regarding mental health have been undertaken with reference to international policies aimed at the same and that provide an overall guide to the global implementation of recovery-based approaches to mental health interventions. Standards for supporting recovery have been established by the framework and incorporated into service delivery, culture and practice and allowing access to programs that aid in recovery. Among these are ensuring that mental health service and strategies ensure dignified, respectful, socially inclusive interventions that encourage self-determination of carers and patients. It should also ensure positive social relationships with consumers while providing education on carers-inclusive approaches to service provision.

States have also been instrumental in promoting policies that aid in the achievement of recovery in mental health. The mental health act of South Australia is an example of policy and legislation aimed at promoting this model. Proclaimed in July 2010, the legislative framework provides groundwork upon which mental-health reforms can be based and affected. Among its main objectives is to offer quality comprehensive services that are consistent with the concept of recovery. (Government of South Australia, 2010).

Challenges and progress

Australia has made major strides towards ensuring that recovery-based model of mental-health care is adopted and implemented. However, in comparison to other developed countries such as Canada and the United States, there is still more to be done in this area. Among the major challenges facing Australia's implementation of recovery-based models is the struggle to define and implement the concept of recovery in a manner that is contextually relevant but still visionary enough to speak to the multiple stakeholders involved in this crucial reform. Also, the dynamic nature of health care, in general, has been hard to keep up within the area of mental health care. Australia still faces cultural and attitudinal setbacks associated with mental health which makes it hard to cause a shift in the social paradigm of recovery models. The challenge of aligning care service with the user's cultural background is still prevalent. This, in particular, involves the provision of a culturally-sensitive environment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait.

Other barriers to adopting recovery based services in hospitals and other care centers have been the lack of comprehensive training for nursing and other service providers within undergraduate curricula (Debra & Kerry, 2014).


To be able to live a meaningful life for people with mental illness, recovery models play a vital role for the consumers, carers, and practitioners. With well-intentioned strategy and planning, recovery is a concept that is integrated with the policies and principles at all levels of governance. National reforms have been undertaken and frameworks for further reforms have been laid down. To create a system that is sensitive to care needs, national and regional integration is essential and monitoring key to ensure the policies actually enhance the care quality in the spectrum of mental-health illness.


Andresen, R., Caputi, P., & Oades, L. G. (2006). Stages of recovery instrument: development of a measure of recovery from serious mental illness. Aust N Z J Psychiatry, 972(80), 11-12. doi:10.1080/j.1440-1614.2006.01921.x

Australian Health Ministers Advisory council. (2013). A national framework for recovery-oriented mental health services. Retrieved from

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