People who have experienced mental illness, and their families and carers, need a wide range of service alternatives that can be tailored to their personal context and that address their particular risk and protective factors for wellbeing. However, very few local areas adequately provide the range of services that are needed to support people who have experienced mental illness in the community. Better provision of community support services, along with the development of effective partnerships and communication strategies between different services and sectors is an urgent need in most jurisdictions. The entire range of evidence-based psychological, pharmacological and psychosocial support options needs to be available and accessible to enable people with mental illness to find the techniques that best support their recovery.

In the national consultations, consumers and their families and carers argued that there are few rehabilitation and recovery-focused services provided by the mental health care system. This perception is confirmed by a study that showed that only 19% of people with low prevalence mental disorders in Australia had received any type of rehabilitation services in the past year; a much higher proportion of people perceived a need for such services, but were unable to access them because the services were either not available or were unaffordable (Jablensky et al 1999, Jablensky et al 2000).

Non-government organisations and self-help groups have attempted to fill this void. In the national consultations, consumers and carers of all ages noted the immense value of non-government organisations and support groups in providing psychosocial support services that were otherwise unavailable. These types of services include social, recreational and vocational programs, which help people to reclaim these essential supports for recovery. However, this sector is greatly under-resourced, and unable to meet the high level of need for such services.

The rehabilitation we have to do ourself. They throw us out of hospital to nothing. We got together to do it ourselves. —Consumer


Economic wellbeing

Education, art and other forms of meaningful activity

Harmful alcohol and other drug use

Physical health

Social relationships



Wider range of treatment options
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