National and International Mental Health News and Research

Every month the team at Mental Health Carers Voice read through hundreds of articles and share anything relevant with our mental health carers. More National news can be found in Janet Milford's National Carer Representative News.

The Economic Value of Informal Mental Health Carering in Australia: Summary Report

Mind Australia commissioned The University of Queensland to research the cost of mental health care in the instance of informal carers being replaced by paid workers. The report includes statistical information of carers that determine the huge cost the government would need to provide if not for you. Read the report here.

Stigma and mental health commentary

A clinical perspective to mental health stigma is offered in this report. It examines potential to address stigma within the US health system, starting with training and education of future psychiatrists and engaging current doctors and psychiatrists to advocate for change. The article can be viewed here.  

Attitudes to seclusion and restraint in mental health

Consumer, carer, community and professional opinions on the use of physical restraint and seclusion have not been well researched. This study compared attitudes across a range of groups to determine if these methods are viewed favourably in mental health treatment settings. The results showed a large majority of people felt the use of restraint and seclusion practices could be harmful, decrease trust and trigger past trauma. Read more here.

Australian Mental Health Care Classification

The Independent Hospital Pricing Authority (IHPA) has developed an animated film and infographic to explain the need for a consumer-level classification for mental health care in Australia and to describe the background to the development of the Australian Mental Health Care Classification. Watch the clip here

Partnering police and mental health clinicians to respond to MH crises

This Australian Study examined the impact of pairing police with a mental health nurse/clinician at the scene of disturbance where a person has been assessed as experiencing a mental health crisis. The study found that teaming the 2 services reduced behavioural escalation and led to diversion to a range of community support services rather than emergency departments. Benefits were reported in information sharing, communication and skill development across the services. Read more here.

Where does e-health fit in?

A flexible and person-centred approach to health service use and delivery has resulted in more services being available in a number of different ways. As well as clinical, face-to-face consultation there are e-mental health options that may be accessed for early intervention or for use alongside face-to-face services. Read more about what e-mental health services look like and how they are used here 

Comparing "stepped care" and "face-to-face" therapies

Two therapy types were compared for their effectiveness in treating anxiety disorders. The stepped care model encompassed cognitive behaviour therapy, psycho-education classes, guided internet treatment and some face-to-face therapy and was assessed against face-to-face therapy only. Results showed similar effectiveness between the 2 approaches but differences in dropout rates. After the study, people continued to use face-to-face therapy but more dropped out of stepped care supports. Read more here

Carer wellbeing and mental health

Singh and Dubey compiled a literature review to explore the impact of caring (including being a mental health caregiver) on a person's health. The paper identified changes in physical and mental health but highlighted the need to conduct further study into positive outcomes of caring. Read the review here.

MHCC Position on integrated mental and physical care

The Mental Health Coordinating Council contributed to current discussion about considerations and concerns surrounding effective integration of services to treat and mental and physical health. Read the paper here.

Mental health literacy study

In South Australia, researchers studied how good "mental health literacy" contributes to carers seeking professional help for mental health concerns, on behalf of their older family member. It concluded that the higher the MH literacy of the carer, the greater the intentions to support an older relative's desire to seek MH help. Read more here.

NeuRa Magazine Winter 2016 Edition

This edition has a great range of articles on MH including schizophrenia research and the carer experience supporting someone with dementia. Click here for the link

Antidepressant medication effectiveness

New research from Orygen's Dr Christopher Davey and Prof Andrew Chanen has shown that the effectiveness of antidepressant medication may be less than first thought. Their research points to the use of antidepressants as part of a holistic approach to treatment for depression. Read more here

Orygen Report on Young People and Self Harm

This report explores self harm among young people in Australia, the misunderstanding and stigma around the issue and community responses. The report delves into its prevalence, barrirers to seeking help and intervention, current government policy and community based approaches. Click here to read the report

ACTCOSS Budget Snapshot

The ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) outlines and analyses the ACT Budget and its likely impact on the community. Read here

MIF Peer Hotline Launch

Mental the Illness Fellowship (MIF) in partnership with the Capital Health Network, launched their Well Ways Peer Led Hotline in June; which offers after hours Helpline services to ACT residents. The phone volunteers are MIF trained 'peers' with a lived experience of mental health issues. This support service is available Mon-Fri from 5-9pm. Call (02) 6246 7180.

E-Couch: online mental health support

Need MH information or online support? Register with e-couch, co-funded by Australia's beyondblue: the national depression initiative and the National Institute for Mental Health Research at ANU. Access MH resources, exercises, a workbook to track your experiences and toolkits to help improve your mood and emotional state. When your caring role can limit opportunities to access out of home community supports this online service could offer some relief. Click here to read more and register.

Bipolar Disorder Genetic Links

The University of Iowa Carvery School of Medicine are the first to discover a genetic overlap between bipolar disorder (BD) and autism and schizophrenia. The study posited that some psychiatric diseases share common genetic roots and subsequently focussed on gene variants of BD. The study revealed "stand out" genes in high numbers in BD, and also present in autism and schizophrenia. The results are not able to pinpoint particular gene roles and functions yet but the findings are a stimulus for further research. Read more here.

Australian Suicide Statistics

ConNetica and the Brain and Mind Institute have released an analysis of suicide data across 28 electorates across Australia. Read the resource here.

Women's Mental Health

Investing in women’s mental health, strengthening the foundations for women, families and the Australian economy is a resource that outlines how women mental health needs are different from those of men. The paper examines prevalence of MH illnesses in females, their service use and preferred treatment options. Read here.  

Global Snapshot: Community Mental Health

This article puts world mental health under the microscope: demonstrating higher rates of mental illness in low and middle income countries, with a significant treatment gap between developing and developed countries. The global study identifies key barriers to mental health reform and highlights the effectiveness of a Balanced Model of Care to treat and deliver services. Read the abstract here.

Budget 2016

On 3 May 2016, the federal budget was announced which detailed a number of new initiatives for the mental health sector, welfare recipients and carers. However, there are some concerns regarding how certain cost-cutting efforts could impact on mental health consumers and carers.

Announcements of note include:

Uncertainty still surrounds the plan to review the recipients of the Disability Support Pension (DSP). As announced there are approximately 90,000 recipients to be reviewed for their capacity to work (30 000 each year for the next 3 years). Of those, some will then be required to have a clinical assessment undertaken to determine whether they can return to work. If they are assessed as not needing the DSP it is expected they will be transferred onto NewStart until they can find work. As noted in the Mental Health Australia response to the Budget, “We know these reviews are likely to disproportionately impact people with mental health conditions. We understand that around 60% of people who lost access to DSP under the previous announced ‘under 35s’ measure were on the DSP because of a mental health condition”. 

This is but a brief summary of the initiatives announced in the Budget on Tuesday – below are a number of media releases from other organisations examining the budget and how it may impact on mental health and carers. 
Mental Health Australia
Carers Australia

NewAccess - Coaching you through tough times

Beyondblue have launched a free face-to-face/phone support service to eligible people having difficulties with daily pressures, anxiety or depression. A NewAccess coach assists with goal setting over a course of 6 sessions and helps individuals to manage their stressors and link in with support groups and organisations. Read about the scheme here

Carer Study: satisfaction with MH clinicians

Primary carers of older adults living with mental illness were interviewed about their experiences dealing with public mental health nurses and clinicians. The study found carers had widely contrasting interactions with a large proportion reporting dissatisfaction with clinicians which impacted on their caring role. The study also identified the need for clinician training and education in cultural competence and applying person-centred strategies. Read more here.

Less stigma for mental health images

People living with mental illness want to redefine the images associated with mental illness.This is according to a recent study by SANE Australia of people with self-identified mental illness. Most people surveyed wanted less stigmatised images of pills and dramatic portraits to portray mental illness- and instead encourage use of visuals that offer a more realistic and fairer side to mental health. Read Picture This: How Australians picture Mental Illness here

US study of families with mental illness

On Pins & Needles: Caregivers of Adults with Mental Illness is the new report released by The National Alliance for Caregiving (USA). The study focussed on carers (18+ years) supporting an adult with moderate to serious mental health/emotional issues. Carers reported challenges dealing with high care burden, stress and strain and navigating the US mental health system. Read the report here

Supported Decision Making App at your fingertips

Advocacy for Inclusion are an organisation that assist with independent individual, self and systemic advocacy for people with disabilities. They have released a Supported Decision Making app which can be purchased online, and has been designed to guide people step by step through the decision making process when an individual needs help. This could be an interesting innovation and support tool for mental health carers helping a family member build their capacity.

"Perfect" Recovery = Person-Centred, Community Integrated Care

This paper shows how long stay clients in a Sydney mental health rehab centre were successfully transitioned into community-based living. This was acheived by effective collaboration between health services and incorporating person-centred planning to assist with the process of transition. Read more here

Study: Carer Involvement in Care-Planning

This study explores carer involvement in care planning- a new concept of the Mental Health Act 2015 - released this month. The research analyses the strengths and barriers to using a person-centred approach and involving carers in care planning. Read more about the study here

Are Carers Happy? 

Australian Unity (in collaboration with Deakin University) have released their 3rd report researching What Makes Australians Happy? The Australian Unity Wellbeing Index examines how satisfied people are based on 3 key elements: strong relationships, financial control and a sense of purpose. While most Australians reported feeling positive about their lives, carers consistently showed the lowest wellbeing scores on the index. Click here for the report.

Culturally informed carer treatment

This Japanese study examined the need for culturally inclusive practice to help support carers of family members with schizophrenia. Evidence shows carers can experience feelings of self-consciousness, blame and guilt surrounding their situation and caring. The study found carers responded well to services that tapped into their culture, values and beliefs surrounding mental illness which helped carers cope better in their role. To read more click here.

Physical Activity and Mental Health

A chapter in a new book Clinical Exercise Science documents the prevalence and cost of mental illness in the UK. It pools scientific data on the health benefits of physical activity on conditions such as depression and anxiety and the therapeutic effect of exercise. Studies reveal benefits in physical health and impact on co-morbidities such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Regular exercise was shown to increase motivation in mental health treatments and participation in social activities. Read more here

Review: Chronic and Mental Illness treatment 

Beyond the Fragments reviews previous and current treatment practices to manage physical and mental health and analyses the need for coordinated multi service delivery to improve population health. Click here to read the discussion paper 

Study of Grief and Loss

An American University has analysed two decades of data addressing the subject of chronic grief following the loss of a loved one. This research has dispelled the 'myth' of grief decreasing and progressing through a series of stages but identified key trajectories including resilience, chronic grief, depressed-improved and chronic depression. The condition known as Complicated Grief is introduced and the research supports the need for further study into grief.To learn more about grief and to access an online support resource click here

Resilience Study: Informal Carers of People with Dementia

Researchers from Finland sought to identify the key features of resilience for informal caregivers of people affected by dementia. The study comprised health experts and carers using a Delphi consensus. Both subject groups conceded the relative's (patient's) behaviour and carer confidence in ability to care were common characteristics to being resilient. Carers identified social support and the quality of their relationship with their relative as significant to managing their caring role and the professional perspective highlighted good quality of life and coping skills as important to resilience. Click here to read more

National Mental Health Reform November 2015

Carers ACT Mental Health Carers Voice welcomes the Federal Government’s announcement on 26 November 2015 for mental health reform as an important and positive step towards improving the lives of those experiencing mental health problems as well as their carers and the wider community. This comes in response to the Contributing Lives, Thriving Communities - Review of Mental Health Programmes and Services, a review conducted by the National Mental Health Commission into the efficiency and effectiveness of programmes and services supporting individuals experiencing mental-ill health and their families and support persons. In their response1, the Federal Government has acknowledged the need for refocusing services from downstream acute and crisis services to upstream early intervention and prevention services. Key aspects of this ‘mental health overhaul’2 include;

For mental health carers, having carers recognised as ‘key partners in achieving better outcomes for people with mental illness’3 and that the reform embodied concepts of person-centred care and improved access to appropriate care was highly encouraging. Also, the commitment to provide integrated care packages to those with severe and complex needs, including psychological services, mental health nursing and drug and alcohol services is a long awaited change for mental health carers. There are still questions surrounding how the focus on innovative technologies in self-care and the mental health gateway referral process will affect mental health carers and more generally how the reform will be implemented.
Carers ACT Mental Health Carers Voice eagerly awaits further details on these changes and how they shall be implemented when the roll out begins in 2016.

1. Australian Government Response to Contributing Lives, Thriving Communities – Review of Mental Health Programmes and Services. (2015). Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia., (2015). Contributing Lives, Thriving Communities - Review of Mental Health Programmes and Services | National Mental Health Commission. [online] Available at:,-thriving-communities-review-of-mental-health-programmes-and-services.aspx [Accessed 26 Nov. 2015].
3. Conifer, D. (2015). Mental health overhaul introduces individual care plans. [online] ABC News. Available at: [Accessed 26 Nov. 2015].

Click below to read responses from; 
Mental Health Australia: Countdown to reform
Capital Health Network: Leading primary mental health in the ACT
Professor Patrick McGorry: Mental health care to get fresh thinking

Media Release from Carers Australia Economic Contribution of Carers

"Economic contribution of Australia's family and friend carers dwarfs the amount spent on income support" Click here to read the Carers Australia media release on economic costs and benefits of family and friend carers. 

Submission to the Department of Health on Mental Health Reform 

Mental Health Australia have provided their final submission to the Department of Health after undertaking many consultations and forums. They have brought together an analysis of the National Mental Health Commission Review and provided feedback from members and stakeholders. 

Click here to read their full submission. 

Mental Health 'Crisis' according to Patrick McGorry

In an article in The Age, Professor McGorry discussed the disconnect between the huge impact mental health issues have upon many Australians and the inaction of governments to make it a priority. He discusses its economic and social importance and calls for equal investment in mental health as physical health, improved access to mental health services, clear pathways for treatment and support and more early intervention and service integration. To read the article click here. To follow or support the campaign visit their website

Labor's plan for mental illness and suicide prevention 

Coinciding with the new Shadow Ministry announcments, including the new Shadow Minister for Mental Health Katy Gallagher. The Australian Labor Party has released its plan for mental illness and suicide prevention. . Some key messages of the plan are to advocate a regional approach as recommended by the National Mental Health Commission also to commit to reduce suicide rates in Australia by 50 per cent over the next ten years. Visit the website for full details here.

Loneliness and complex needs behind frequent calls to crisis helplines

Researchers at the University of Melbourne have mapped the health service use of frequent callers to crisis helplines to find out what might be the cause of the calls. Frequent callers use crisis helplines multiple times a week for many months. Although they only represent a small proportion of helpline callers, they place a heavy burden on Australian crisis helplines. The study has revealed that frequent callers are more likely to require complex medical care and are often socially isolated. To read the full report click here

Report highlights need to support carers of people with chronic mental illness and suicidality 

Earlier this month a report was released by the Black Dog Institute and the National Health and Medical Research Council Centre for Research Excellence in Suicide Prevention. It looked at the experiences of people presenting to health services following a suicide attempt.
The report, Care after a Suicide Attempt found that one third of people attending hospital following suicide attempt were discharged without any mental health follow up. Of those that did receive treatment, 59% of them received a single session of 30 minutes. Click here to read the full report. Click here to read the Carers Australia article. 

Work underway for National Carer Gateway - integrating services

The Department of Social Services has now begun work on the development of an integrated plan for Carer Support Services which aims to streamline and better coordinate carer support services and to ensure that carers needs are recognised and supported as major reforms occur in the aged care and disability sectors. To read the Carers Australia article on the National Carer Gateway, click here

Mental Health Coordinating Council NSW Report on NDIS and Psychosocial Disability 

On Monday 7 September MHCC launched a publication at their members only ‘Getting Ready for the NDIS’ Forum held in Sydney. The report details the experiences of the NDIS in a NSW trial site, and examines how it worked within the mental health community. Click here to read the article. 

National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) quarterly report

The NDIA has released the fourth quarterly report realeased August 2015.  Click here to read a copy of the report.

Information Update - National Carer Gateway - Research and Carer Gateway Advisory Group

On 24 June 2015, the Assistant Minister for Social Services, Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield, announced the establishment and membership of a Carer Gateway Advisory Group.  The Advisory Group will provide advice and inform the development and implementation of the national carer gateway. 

Commencing in June 2015, consumer research is being undertaken by Australian Market Research to underpin the development of the national carer gateway. 
Research activities will ensure the needs of carers are central to the development of the gateway and to the Integrated Plan for Carer Support Services, which was announced in the 2015 Budget.
Click here for a link for how to participate in the online survey. Please feel free to share this link.

For further information, please visit the Department’s website at or email

The mental health of children and adolescents: a survey of mental health and wellbeing

This report examines the mental health of young Australians from 4-17 years. Through surveys conducted with families and young people, involving over 6300 families this report documents the prevalence of different mental illnesses, the impacts they have on families and young people and the role that heath and education services play in providing assistance. Click here for the full report.  

Countdown to Reform

The 'Countdown to Reform' Campaign continues as the government undertake a range of processes to determine how to change our failing mental health system. The goal is develop a national plan for mental health with input from an Expert Reference Group on Mental Health and a set of workshops by the Australian Government Department of Health. To find out more information or to respond to the current recommendations please follow the Mental Health Australia link below. 
Mental Health Australia - Countdown to Reform

National Mental Health Commission Chair Professor Allan Fels AO Speaks at National Press Club Address

Professor Allan Fels spoke at the National Press Club on Wednesday 5 August acknowledging the current state of mental health in Australia as not only a social and medical issue, but also an economic issue. He also drew attention to the high levels of physical health problems in the mental health community and how often these complexities of mind and body are not treated, and thought of, in tandem. Click here to watch his speech online, or here to read a full transcript.  

New Alternative to ECT, Treats Severe Depression without Memory Loss

The new treatment is called ultra-brief pulse right unilateral (RUL) and has proven to be very effective at treating severe depression without many of the negative side effects that electro-convulsive therapy (ECT) has had. Click here to read more. 

When do someone's quirks or patterns cross the line into OCD?

This television episode is called Obsessed and involves interviews with people who have OCD and how they manage their symptoms. It also touches on the use of OCD as slang for 'neat freak' and how the common usage is far from the debilitating disorder. 

Supporting people with cognitive disabilities to make decisions 

The report presents the research on supportive decision making processes and dilemmas from the perspective of those caring for someone with a cognitive disability. Some of the common difficulties those in support roles acknowledged were; remaining neutral, balancing rights with risk and best interests, and resource constraints. Click here to read more. 

Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association Primary Health Network Discussion paper #2 - Mental health

A discussion paper articulating a role for Primary Health Networks in improving mental health outcomes has recently been released.  Click here to read the paper.

National Mental Health Commission - Seclusion and Restraint Position Paper

In May 2015, Jackie Crowe, a Commissioner at the National Mental Health Commission released a position paper on seclusion and restraint in mental health at the 10th National Seclusion and Restraint Forum in Melbourne.  A media release may be accessed here. Click here to access the position paper.

Mental Health in Multicultural Australia (MHiMA) e-newsletter May 2015

Click here to read MHiMA’s e-newsletter for May 2015.

MHiMA’s National Culturally & Linguistically Diverse (CALD) Consumer & Carer Working Group recently published a 
media release supporting the inclusion of consumer and carers in national mental health reforms

Australia  is lagging on funding for mental health sevices, says Mental Illness Fellowship

David Meldrum, CEO of Mental Illness Fellowship Australia, is concerned about the level of services available for people with schizophrenia.  Click here to read more.

National Disability Employment Framework - Issues Paper

The Australian Government Department of Social Services has released an Issues Paper to outline what the Australian Government currently does to support employment for people with disability. The Issues Paper will form the basis for a series of public forums.  Click here to read the paper and to find out more information about how you can participate in the consultation.

Understanding the needs and experiences of older LGBTI carers and carers of older LGBTI people in Australia

The Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, La Trobe University and Carers Australia are collaborating on a project to better understand the needs of older LGBTI carers and carers of older LGBTI people. Research findings will inform educational resources for aged care services and carer support services.  Click here if you are interested in participating in a survey and/or a confidential interview.

All in the Mind - podcasts about the brain and behaviour

Click here to listen to Radio National's fascinating All in the Mind show.

Australian Government plans national approach on mental health, acknowledging clear failures

Minister for Health, The Hon. Sussan Ley MP has released a media statement saying acknowledging clear failures with the mental health sector and government, and committing to improvements including the establishment of a dedicated COAG working Group on Mental Health Reform which will focus on short, medium and long term strategies in four key areas:

A copy of the full press release can be found by clicking here.

Experts write schizophrenia does not exist

An open letter from Dutch experts including the chairman of the Dutch Association for Psychiatry, and Jim Van Os, member of the DSM-5 schizophrenia sub-committee argue that schizophrenia does not exist, but psychosis does - an idea that could radically change treatment options and supports. Click here for a translated article from ARAFMI NSW. 

Missing Christopher - Australian Story

ABC's Australian Story recently covered the story of the Newling family and their experiences of mental illness. After losing one son, Christopher, to suicide, the family are now focused on supporting their second son in his recovery, who devotes much of his time to suicide prevention activities while managing his own bipolar disorder. More information about this story can be found here.

World's first clinical study of veterans under 50

RSL Queensland and the Gallipoli Medical Research Foundation have initiated the world's first comprehensive clinical study of mental health challenges facing the contemporary veterans, including PTSD, depression and anxiety, as well as the risk of suicide among young Australian men or women returning from active service. An ABC report on the study can be found here.

Good news story in the news!

The Manchester Evening News has published a good news story about recovery, support and accommodation. Click here to read the article

Schizophrenia to get a new name!

An article recently published in Schizophrenia Research calls for the renaming of the disorder, in the hope of finding a less stigmatised name. Information can be found here.

Gavin Mooney Memorial Essays

A collection of essays on the social and cultural determinants of mental health can be accessed by clicking here.

People with Mental Illness up to ten times more likely to be assaulted

British Journal of Psychiatry has found that people who have a severe mental illness are three to ten times more likely to become victims of violent and non-violent crimes than members of the general population. Click here for more information.

Mental Health News