The mental health system in Australia comprises a number of key players who all have a legitimate stake in the way that information development is advanced at the national level:
- Consumers need information to understand their illnesses better, gain an appreciation of their treatment options and to enable them to participate actively in their treatment. Information needs to be available in a form that provides a structure to guide dialogue with the clinician about treatment planning and personal progress. Consumers also expect the clinicians who are responsible for their care to be engaged in evidence-based practice, using modern information approaches to regularly review their treatment methods and outcomes, and ensure that it meets accepted safety and quality standards.
- Carers have similar requirements for information to understand mental illness and be aware of the treatment options so that they are able to care for themselves and the person for whom they are caring.
- Mental health service providers need access to information to conduct needs assessments, formulate individual care plans, monitor progress and evaluate outcomes. Mental health clinicians are living in a world of increasing advances in therapies, greater emphasis on evidence based health care, increasing community expectations, and better-informed and more empowered consumers. All of these create demands on service providers to be 'information literate' and apply information in ways that support the services they offer to consumers.
- Mental health service managers need information about the services under their control to manage resources, monitor workflows and assess the overall efficiency and effectiveness of the service.
- Health policy makers need information to assess the population needs for mental health care, plan and pay for services, determine priorities for the allocation of resources, monitor the achievement of outcomes set by government and enable formal accountability to the public and parliament for resources.
- Health service researchers need information to enable them to analyse and report on trends and contribute their expertise on 'cutting edge' issues affecting mental health planning and service delivery.