Safety and Quality > Our Work > Mental Health

The Commission has a strong commitment to promote, support and encourage safety and quality in the provision of mental health services.  In 2011, the Mental Health Team was established to ensure a greater integrated focus across existing Commission programs.

The Commission established a Mental Health Advisory Group in 2014 to provide expert advice on our work. Group members include representatives from national consumer and carer organisations, professional colleges, academics and clinicians and administrators from all mental health sectors.

The mental health team works with colleagues across the range of Commission programs including National Standards, Recognition and Response to Clinical Deterioration and Medication Safety.

Key initiatives

Key initiatives the mental health team are involved in include:

National consensus statement: Essential elements for recognising and responding to deterioration in a person’s mental state

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (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.

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.

National Standards and Accreditation in Mental Health Services

The Commission developed an Accreditation Workbook for Mental Health Services which maps version 1 of the National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards with the National Standards for Mental Health Services.

The Commission undertook a Scoping Study in collaboration with the National Mental Health Commission on the implementation of both the National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards and the National Standards for Mental Health Services.

The Commission has included actions in the National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards (second edition) to support improvements in the safety and quality of health services delivered to people with lived experience of mental health issues.

Recognition and response to clinical deterioration

The Commission has also produced resources to support mental health services in recognising and responding to physiological deterioration in acute mental health settings.

Medication Safety in Mental Health

To extend evidence of medication safety in mental health settings, the Commission appointed the University of South Australia to undertake the scoping study Medication safety in mental health.  The study focused on medication safety issues in mental health in hospital and community settings, and was informed by a national and international literature review and consultations with key stakeholders in Australia.

The study found that existing medication safety practices and strategies may not be in widespread use across mental health services in Australia.  The report recommended that strategies proven to be successful in improving medication safety in general health, be adapted and implemented in mental health settings.  The report also identified areas where further work is indicated to improve medication safety in mental health settings.

Contact Us

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

Emergency mental health contact details

National Mental Health Commission

National Standards for Mental Health Services