PHN Mental Health Tools and Resources

Page last updated: 19 November 2019

This page houses resources, presentations and other key information to assist Primary Health Networks (PHNs) with mental health reform implementation.

PHN Advisory Panel on Mental Health Reports

The PHN Advisory Panel on Mental Health produced two reports – the first is the ‘Reform and System Transformation: A Five Year Horizon for PHNs’ which was distributed to PHNs on the 4th January 2019 and the second is ‘The report of the PHN Advisory Panel on Mental Health’ which was released on 27 February 2019.

National Guidance Initial Assessment and Referral for Mental Healthcare


This guidance provides advice to PHNs on establishing effective systems for the initial assessment and referral of individuals presenting with mental health conditions in primary health care settings. The guidance brings together information from a range of sources including Australian and international evidence and advice from a range of leading experts.

The National Suicide Prevention Leadership & Support Program Project Information for PHNs

This information resource is to assist PHNs to understand and engage with the work of projects funded by the Australian Government under the National Suicide Prevention Leadership and Support Program.

PHN Primary Mental Health Care Flexible Funding Pool Implementation Guidance

Guidance material has been developed to support PHNs in implementing the primary mental health care reform activities and managing the associated flexible funding. The guidance material provides clarity on core issues, sets out expectations of PHNs and provides best practice examples, where appropriate.

A number of the guidance documents have been updated in 2019 to clarify expectations within the current policy and program context (including context around the Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan), and to ensure new and emerging resources are brought to the attention of PHNs. Updated documents are indicated as 2019 versions.

The revised guidance seeks to promote links between activities and an integrated approach to joint regional planning and commissioning mental health services.

1. Stepped Care

This guidance document provides overarching advice on a stepped care approach to mental health and outlines expectations of PHNs.
1. PHN Guidance – Stepped Care - 2019 (PDF 208 KB)
1. PHN Guidance – Stepped Care - 2019 (Word 208 KB)

2. Low Intensity Mental Health Services for Early Intervention

This guidance document provides advice to PHNs on developing and/or commissioning low intensity mental health services to form an integrated part of a stepped care system.
2. PHN Guidance – Low Intensity Mental Health Services for Early Intervention - 2019 (PDF 95 KB)
2. PHN Guidance – Low Intensity Mental Health Services for Early Intervention - 2019 (Word 1048 KB)

3. Psychological Therapies Provided by Mental Health Professionals to Underserviced Groups

This guidance document provides advice to PHNs on commissioning short term psychological therapy services for people and groups who are underserviced by Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) based psychological treatment.
3. PHN Guidance – Psychological Therapies Provided by Mental Health Professionals to Underserviced Groups - 2019 (PDF 119 KB)
3. PHN Guidance – Psychological Therapies Provided by Mental Health Professionals to Underserviced Groups - 2019 (Word 506 KB)

4. Primary Mental Health Care Services for People with Severe Mental Illness

This guidance document provides advice to PHNs on services for people with severe mental illness.
4. PHN Guidance – Primary Mental Health Care Services for People with Severe Mental Illness - 2019 (PDF 120 KB)
4. PHN Guidance – Primary Mental Health Care Services for People with Severe Mental Illness - 2019 (Word 642 KB)

5. Regional Approach to Suicide Prevention

This guidance document provides advice to PHNs on their role in promoting a systems based regional approach to suicide prevention, including planning and commissioning services to address the needs of people at risk of suicide.
5. PHN Guidance – Regional Approach to Suicide Prevention - 2019 (PDF 121 KB)
5. PHN Guidance – Regional Approach to Suicide Prevention - 2019 (Word 871 KB)

6. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health Services

This guidance document provides advice for PHNs in relation to the planning and commissioning of mental health services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
6. PHN Guidance – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health Services - 2019 (PDF 114 KB)
6. PHN Guidance – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health Services - 2019 (Word 987 KB)

7. Child and Youth Mental Health Services

This guidance document was prepared for PHNs in 2016 to provide initial advice about the commissioning of mental health services to children and young people with or at risk of mental illness.
7. Child and Youth Mental Health Services (PDF 646 KB)
7. Child and Youth Mental Health Services (Word 64 KB)

8. Consumer and Carer Engagement and Participation

This guidance document was prepared for PHNs in 2016 to outline expectations and strategies for engaging with consumers and carers through the mental health services commissioning cycle.
8. Consumer and Carer Engagement and Participation (PDF 751 KB)
8. Consumer and Carer Engagement and Participation (Word 76 KB)

9. Workforce Support Information and Resources

This document was prepared for PHNs in 2016 and provides information on resources relevant to supporting the mental health workforce throughout the mental health reform implementation process.
9. Workforce support information and resources (PDF 676 KB)
9. Workforce support information and resources (Word 45 KB)

10. Joint Regional Planning for Integrated Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Services

This 2018 guide outlines government requirements and expectations of the process of developing joint regional mental health and suicide prevention plans, and provides best practice advice to PHNs and LHNs.
10. Joint Regional Planning for Integrated Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Services (PDF 1289 KB)
10. Joint Regional Planning for Integrated Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Services (Word 153 KB)

11. Psychological Treatment Services for People with Mental Illness in Residential Aged Care Facilities

This guidance document was prepared for PHNs to provide advice on expectations and strategies for commissioning psychological services targeting the mental health needs of people living in residential aged care facilities.
11. Psychological Treatment Services for people with mental illness in Residential Aged Care Facilities (PDF 547 KB)
11. Psychological Treatment Services for people with mental illness in Residential Aged Care Facilities (Word 194 KB)

12. Peer Workforce Role in Mental Health and Suicide Prevention

This document provides guidance on the mental health and suicide prevention peer workforce and how PHNs can support better outcomes in mental health by promoting and supporting the employment of peer workers as part of multi disciplinary teams providing person centred support, and recovery orientated and trauma informed care.
12. Peer Workforce Role in Mental Health and Suicide Prevention (PDF 158 KB)
12. Peer Workforce Role in Mental Health and Suicide Prevention (Word 124 KB)

An evidence-based systems approach to suicide prevention: guidance on planning, commissioning and monitoring

To support PHNs in implementing a systems based regional approach to suicide prevention that meets local community need, the Department of Health commissioned the Black Dog Institute to develop a specific resource for PHNs that outlines current best practice suicide prevention activities. The resource 'An evidence-based systems approach to suicide prevention: guidance on planning, commissioning and monitoring' provides PHNs with a comprehensive body of evidence that can inform assessment, planning and commissioning processes for suicide prevention services.

Mental Health Nursing Services in Australia: A How to Guide for PHNs

With support from the Department of Health, the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses has developed a ‘how to guide’ to assist with the transition of mental health nursing services to PHNs.

Mental Health, Counselling and Community Wellbeing services to Individuals affected by PFAS Contamination

To support identified PHNs to make available dedicated mental health and counselling services and support community-led wellbeing initiatives, building on the work already being undertaken in primary and mental health care.

Mental Health Activity Work Plan template

The Mental Health Activity Work Plan template must be used by PHNs to submit their Mental Health Activity Work Plan. The template for the Plan requires PHNs to outline activities against each and every one of the six priorities for mental health and suicide prevention. The Plan should also lay the foundation for implementation of a broader stepped care model in the PHN region.