Evidence Check supports work of Mental Health Commission of NSW

The Mental Health Commission of NSW has welcomed the findings of a Sax Institute Evidence Check that reviewed the latest evidence on the effectiveness of consumer-led mental health services.

The Commission this month launched the report, The effectiveness of services led or run by consumers in mental health, which finds that international studies into mental health services that are run or led by people with lived experience of mental illness show consistently positive results.

The report is based on a review of 33 peer-reviewed papers and associated literature, which was conducted through the Sax Institute for the Commission.

Positive impacts

John Feneley, Mental Health Commissioner
Mental Health Commissioner John Feneley said the review showed the need to embrace consumer leadership.

It finds that the strongest evidence on consumer-led mental health services comes from the United States. Three large studies show consumer-operated mental health services had positive impacts on areas including people’s quality of life, social inclusion, housing and employment, compared to those who accessed services that were not consumer-led.

NSW Mental Health Commissioner John Feneley said the findings supported the priorities and actions that had been identified in Living Well: A Strategic Plan for Mental Health in NSW 2014-2024, which was adopted by the NSW Government in December 2014.

“There is a significant role for services which are led and run by people with lived experience of mental illness. This review reflects the need for the mental health sector to embrace consumer leadership and commit to growth in this area,” Mr Feneley said.

“This model of service delivery is much more than a pleasant, inclusive idea – it’s vital to making the sector relevant and accessible, and improving people’s mental health outcomes.

“Both private and public mental health service providers in NSW must work to increase not only the number of peer workers they employ, but the involvement of people with lived experience at the very top of their organisation.”

Future research

The report recommends that a survey of consumer-operated services be conducted in Australia to gather evidence on local services, and also urges evaluation of existing services.

“It is also important that consumer-operated services that are particularly successful be encouraged to document what it is that they are doing well, to share their success stories and inspire others,” it states.

The Sax Institute’s Knowledge Exchange program brokers rapid reviews of evidence to help answer policy questions for a wide range of agencies.

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