SuperFriend welcomes Productivity Commission’s push for broader, earlier mental health support

From

Margo Lydon

SuperFriend welcomes the release of the highly anticipated final report from the Productivity Commission Inquiry into Mental Health, and commends the Commission for recognising the need for an improved mental health system with a broader approach to non-clinical settings such as workplaces, education, justice and community settings.

SuperFriend believes that creating a person-centred approach focused on prevention, early support, increased use of non-clinical interventions, and increased treatment sessions and options will help prevent people from becoming so unwell that they need crisis support, taking pressure off the clinical system and improving mental health outcomes.

Commenting on the report released yesterday, Margo Lydon, SuperFriend Chief Executive Officer said: “We fully support the Commission’s aim to refocus the mental health system with a strong preventative lens, highlighting the need for improved evaluation and transparent reporting.

“The Report shows the Government’s recognition that Australia needs an integrated and system-wide approach to improve mental health – making it everyone’s business.”

Workplace mental health a priority

Recognising that workplaces are a critical factor in shaping a person’s mental health, the report calls out the need for elevating the importance of psychological health and safety in the workplace, and no-liability clinical treatment for workers’ compensation claims.

SuperFriend’s recently released Indicators of a Thriving Workplace Report reinforced that work and workplaces are a positive contributing factor to a person’s social connections and mental health, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Investing in workplace mental health delivers positive returns for employees and the business, which has flow on positive effects for our communities.. In light of this, employers taking action by prioritising workplace mental health combined with collaborative and better coordinated policy action from Governments, will hopefully mark a positive tide of change,” added Ms Lydon.

Critical role of the insurance sector

The report calls out the need for improved training and education about mental illness across the insurance sector. It also highlights opportunities for the insurance sector to improve the way it collects information about, and relating to, people with mental illness.

SuperFriend acknowledges the sector’s opportunities to refine and improve how it interacts with people with mental illness and welcomes the recommendation for capability uplift across the industry. Its Indicators of a Thriving Workplace research clearly shows that this is likely to have a two-fold positive affect – improving customer experiences when dealing with life insurers and improving cultures within those organisations.

“We look forward to working with our industry partners and peak bodies to refine insurance sector training requirements, ensuring an improved understanding of mental illness across the sector,” confirmed Ms Lydon.

SuperFriend also extends its support to ASIC to ensure that the insurance industry removes blanket exclusions, differentiates between different types of mental illness, and implements standardised definitions of mental illness, welcoming the opportunity to support the regulator and the industry in designing and implementing these changes.

SuperFriend will also work with the insurance industry should the Australian Law Reform Commission review whether protocols for insurer access to clinical records have led to better targeted requests for clinical information, and whether they protect people with clinical histories that include seeking psychological treatment or counselling.

Lastly, SuperFriend supports the proposal that the Government should review the regulations preventing health insurers from funding community-based mental healthcare activities, permitting life insurers to fund mental health treatments for their insurance clients on a discretionary basis. This is a very positive step forward.

“An improved and more connected mental health system delivered by multi-disciplinary clinical and non-clinical trained staff to support consumers, carers and service providers is a welcomed approach to help people lead fulfilling lives and access the support they need, when they need it,” concluded Ms Lydon.

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