Mental health policy—stumbling in the dark?

David W Crosbie
Medical Journal of Australia 2009 February 16, 190 (4 Suppl): S43-5
Over the past 15 years, governments have agreed to a series of National Mental Health Plans. These national strategies and plans have set goals and discussed the importance of monitoring and evaluation. Despite this ongoing national collaborative framework, Australia's mental health policy lacks real accountability and relies largely on limited mental health service systems data. The lack of outcome data represents a critical gap in knowledge for mental health policy, planning and practice. Resistance from current stakeholders and a lack of investment in research and monitoring capacity are preventing more rigorous ongoing monitoring of mental health policy. The new Rudd Government appears to be shifting the emphasis towards measuring the outcomes of national policy in health, housing and employment. Measuring such outcomes will guide government decision making and ultimately improve mental health services.

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