Modelling tools to support community mental health

Decision makers in mental health face significant challenges in determining which initiatives to invest in. The sector is complex, with workforce capacity restrictions, changing population needs and varying degrees of supporting evidence.

The Sax Institute’s Decision Analytics team is helping to navigate these challenges with an interactive ‘what-if’ tool that tests which community-based initiatives provide the greatest benefits.

Produced in partnership with the Mental Health Commission NSW, this tool maps NSW’s current mental health system and tests the potential impacts of 19 community-based initiatives, ranging from primary school wellbeing programs to social rehabilitation and housing support.

The tool expands on previous work between the Institute and the Commission, drawing on a range of academic and administrative data as well as lived experiences.

Real-time outcomes are shown across health, social and economic domains. Users can see the impact an initiative may have on hospitalisation and GP visits, as well as the impact on school attendance or productivity.

Julie Dixon, Director of System Reform, Mental Health Commission NSW, said the expertise of the Institute and the Commission came together to create a tool that exceeds expectations and will hopefully be developed further to facilitate collaboration across multiple stakeholders and sectors.

“We’ve listened to each other and built a good partnership though time and effort,” said Julie. “We couldn’t have done it without each other.”