4.9.1 RationalePromotion of mental health and prevention of mental illness have been central objectives in the National Mental Health Strategy since it began in 1992.
Under the First National Mental Health Plan (1993-1998) activities focused on reducing stigma, raising community awareness, and highlighting the importance of early intervention. Promotion and prevention subsequently became a key theme under the Second National Mental Health Plan with the release of the National Action Plan for Promotion, Prevention and Early Intervention for Mental Health 29 and the LIFE Framework 30 guiding promotion, prevention and early intervention activity over the past five years. Under the current Plan, promotion and prevention are now cornerstones of the National Mental Health Strategy.
However, national information in relation to promotion and prevention is significantly less progressed compared to other areas covered by the National Mental Health Strategy. This is due to several factors:
- the long-term nature of promotion and prevention activities – information on outcomes may not be collectable until some time after the activity has occurred;
- the many sectors and settings outside of mental health and health in which promotion and prevention activities happen; and
- difficulties in tracking resources dedicated to promotion, prevention and early intervention activities. Jurisdictions indicate that such tracking is currently very problematic.
4.9.2 Consolidation activitiesGiven the current level of development in the area of information to support promotion and prevention activities in mental health, the task ahead is one of initiating work on agreed new priorities rather than building on past work.
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4.9.3 New initiatives
Development of a 'promotion and prevention scorecard' to monitor State and Territory programsWork will be undertaken through collaboration between the National Mental Health Information Strategy Committee and the Mental Health Promotion and Prevention Working Party to develop a structured process for monitoring the extent to which promotion and prevention is included in government programs (the 'Promotion and Prevention Scorecard'). The aim will be to establish baseline information that can be monitored over time about progress in development of promotion and prevention policies and programs, and the ongoing commitment to them. The scope of the scorecard is expected to examine:
- policies and strategies implemented at State and Territory level and their relation to key priorities in this field;
- implementation against State and national targets and priorities;
- progress in development of key partnerships with agencies for promotion and prevention, and their roles and responsibilities;
- workforce capacity, training and central coordination;
- resources allocated to promotion and prevention activity;
- community, consumer and carer involvement and commitment beyond mental health; and
- involvement of general practitioners.
Targeted information collections and data linkage to monitor outcomes of specific prevention programsThe potential to develop a national approach for monitoring the impact of prevention programs, through data linkage between currently independent State/Territory and national collections, will be explored.
Incorporation of mental health literacy components in existing State/Territory and national health surveysSpecific proposals regarding the possibilities for this will be explored.
29 Department of Health and Aged Care (2000a). National Action Plan for Promotion, Prevention and Early Intervention for Mental Health. Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra.
30 Department of Health and Aged Care (2000b). Living Is For Everyone (LIFE): A Framework for Prevention of Suicide and Self-Harm in Australia. Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra.