Mental health

The Commission has a strong commitment to promote, support and encourage safety and quality in the provision of health care for people who experience mental health issues across all healthcare settings.

The mental health team works with colleagues across the range of Commission programs including National Standards, Medication Safety and e-Health Safety.

The Commission established a Mental Health Advisory Group in 2015 to provide expert advice on our work. Group members include representatives from national consumer and carer organisations, professional colleges, researchers, clinicians and administrators from all mental health sectors.

NSQHS Standards user guide for acute and community mental health services

The Commission has developed the National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards user guide for acute and community mental health services (the user guide).

The user guide supports implementation of the National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) Standards. The user guide does not contain any new actions, but provides additional, sector-specific guidance for mental health services.

The user guide features a number of spotlight issues. These focus on key safety and quality aspects in the delivery of mental health care, including working with carers, reducing restrictive practices and preventing suicide. The spotlight issues demonstrate how implementing the NSQHS Standards in an integrated way provides a rigorous framework that supports mental health services to address specific safety and quality concerns.


Escalation Mapping Template (EMT) for processes for recognising and responding to signs of deterioration in a person’s mental state

The NSQHS Standards includes actions that require health service organisations to demonstrate processes for recognising and responding to deterioration in a person’s mental state.

In 2020, the Commission developed a Microsoft Excel EMT to support services to assess the effectiveness of their systems for recognising and responding to signs of deterioration in a person’s mental state.

To enhance user experience and navigation of the EMT, the Commission has updated the Excel tool to a new and improved online web-based application.

Access the EMT

NSQHS Standards User guide for health services providing care for people with mental health issues

The Commission has developed a National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards (second edition) User Guide for Health Services Providing Care for People with Mental Health Issues (the user guide).

The Commission considers that implementation of the second edition of the NSQHS Standards provides a robust framework for safety and quality in mental health services in public and private hospitals, and community services provided by local health networks. The user guide includes examples of innovative approaches to providing optimal health care for people with comorbid mental and physical health issues.


Map of the NSQHS Standards (second edition) with the National Standards for Mental Health Services

The Commission has released the Map of the National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) Standards (second edition) with the National Standards for Mental Health Services (NSMHS). This document maps the second edition of the NSQHS Standards with the NSMHS to demonstrate to mental health stakeholders the extent of alignment between the two sets of national standards.


National Consensus Statement: Essential elements for recognising and responding to deterioration in a person's mental state

The Commission has developed the National Consensus Statement: Essential elements for recognising and responding to deterioration in a person's mental state (the Consensus Statement).

The Consensus Statement aligns with the National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) Standards (second edition) as recommended best practice. It is intended that the Consensus Statement is applied in conjunction with the existing National Consensus Statement: essential elements for recognising and responding to acute physiological deterioration (second edition).

The Commission will build on this work by partnering with key stakeholders to develop resources to support implementation of the principles and elements outlined in the Consensus Statement.


Recognising Signs of Deterioration in a Person’s Mental State

During national consultation for the National Consensus Statement: Essential elements for recognising and responding to deterioration in a person’s mental state the Commission identified the need to develop consensus on a set of signs that can be used for monitoring deterioration in a person’s mental state. The Commission engaged Gaskin Research to undertake the project and provide a report on Recognising Signs of Deterioration in a Person’s Mental State.

The authors conducted a literature review and interviews with key stakeholders to generate a list of signs. They then undertook a sequential survey process to develop consensus on the signs, resulting in a proposed set of 28 clusters of signs, arranged into five indicators:

  • Reported change
  • Distress
  • Loss of touch with reality or consequences of behaviours
  • Loss of function
  • Elevated risk to self, others or property.

These five indicators provide an overarching framework for monitoring deterioration in a person’s mental state, and are outlined in the signs of deterioration in a person's mental state table.

The Commission will undertake further work with stakeholders on the alignment of the proposed signs with existing systems to ensure safe and effective response to deterioration in a person’s mental state.

An updated literature review was conducted in 2019.


Contact us

If you would like further information about any of the Commission’s work in mental health, please email: mentalhealth@safetyandquality.gov.au