Every year one-in-five Australians will experience some form of mental illness, and in our lifetimes, one-in-two of us will live with mental illness.

With the burden of mental illness continuing to rise, the Federal Government is currently drafting a plan to address some of the issues reportedly contributing to the soaring rates of mental illness in Australia.

Today, Federal Health Minister, The Hon. Sussan Ley MP announced the Fifth National Mental Health Plan is open to comments from the community, and invited members of the public to have their say on the new national plan designed to improve the lives of those battling mental health issues.

Underpinned by seven priority areas, the Fifth National Mental Health Plan has been approved by the Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council (AHMAC). It aims to set the direction for change and provide a foundation for long-term system reform to help manage the burden of our nation’s mental illness.

The following seven priority areas focus on achievable and measurable improvements for Australians living with mental health issues:

  1. Integrated regional planning and service delivery;
  2. Coordinated treatment and support for people with severe and complex mental illness;
  3. Suicide prevention;
  4. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health and suicide prevention;
  5. Physical health of people living with mental health issues;
  6. Stigma and discrimination reduction; and
  7. Safety and quality in mental health care.

Ms Ley said the consultation draft for the Fifth National Mental Health Plan is now ready for public comment, citing “Mental illness is a significant health and social issue. One-in-five Australians aged 16 to 85 years will experience a mental disorder each year, and almost half will experience a mental disorder in their lifetime. In addition, almost one-in-seven young people aged four-to-17 years were assessed as having a mental disorder in the previous year.

“The Fifth Plan recognises that consumers and carers need to be at the centre of the way in which services are planned and delivered, and is focused on actions that will genuinely make a difference for consumers and carers,” said Ms Ley.

In order to achieve this, Ms Ley announced the Department of Health, in partnership with Mental Health Australia, will be holding consultation meetings nation-wide, for those who wish to participate in shaping the national plan, with additional forums set for Townsville and Alice Springs between November 3 and December 2, 2016.

Further to the consultation meetings, an online survey and submission portal are also available, while the draft consultation paper features on the Department of Health website.

You can download a copy of the draft consultation paper via the Department of Health website here.

Views expressed during the consultation process will inform the final Plan, which will be considered by AHMAC and the COAG Health Ministers’ Council early next year.

For more information on the Fifth National Mental Health Plan, head to the Department of Health website.