National safety priorities in mental health: a national plan for reducing harm

Section 2: Improving safety in mental health services

Page last updated: October 2005

This Plan identifies four priority areas where there is national agreement for progressing safety improvement activity. States and Territories and local mental health services (whether public or private) are also encouraged to determine their own priorities for improving the safety of consumers, carers, staff and others and for creating an environment where people are free to speak without fear or threat. Other sectors are also strongly encouraged to consider safety issues related to mental health care when determining their own risk management and safety improvement activities. This recognises that different jurisdictions, services and sectors will have differing priorities and capacity when implementing safety improvement initiatives.

There can be tension between the realisation of safety initiatives and the realisation of initiatives related o other dimensions of quality. It is hoped that when implementing safety initiatives, mental health services will carefully consider the balance between protection from harm and providing comprehensive high-quality care for mental health consumers. Recovery orientated mental health services that are focused on the individual needs, choices and desires of consumers come with a higher tolerance of risk from a consumer perspective, especially with interventions such as seclusion and restraint. To assist in guiding safety improvement activities and ensuring the safety of mental health services a set of principles have been agreed.

Quality infrastructure
Risk identification and management
Priorities for strengthening the safety building blocks in mental health services