Laying new foundations for 21st century community mental health services: An Australian perspective

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While there has been a significant increase in investment in community mental health in Australia since the advent of the National Mental Health Strategy in the early 1990s, there has been little guidance on service design and delivery. This has led to a growing diversity of approaches and concern about the adequacy of care with repeated calls for a system overhaul. Consumers and carers have very largely been absent from decision-making about service design and development which has led to a system primarily designed by healthcare professionals. However, with the emergence of recovery as a core principle in mental health, it is time for consumers and carers to be centrally engaged in co-designing services with service providers. This raises the question of whether dominant service delivery models – such as the growth of specialist teams/services, the changing balance between profession-specific and generic case management roles in multidisciplinary teams, and the separation of inpatient from community care – will prevail. Contentious issues in these three service delivery areas are outlined to stimulate debate and highlight the pressing need for national guidance on the configuration of community mental health services. Building on the lessons learned from the first National Mental Health Strategy, we outline a proposal for a co-designed National Framework for Community Mental Health Services to guide the delivery of care in a way which satisfies the aspirations of consumers, carers, and mental health professionals alike.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1008-1014
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Mental Health Nursing
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2019


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