Sector Benchmarking

The community managed mental health sector has grown enormously over the last ten years. While substantial, the growth has been uneven-ad hoc rather than planned. There has been a pressing need for an ongoing sector planning process that takes into account information on population need and is balanced with other existing services in each area.

In 2012 the NSW Ministry of Health funded MHCC to progress the NSW Community Managed  Mental Health Sector Benchmarking Project. This project has recently completed the bulk of its work and has successfully established population planning targets across a range of service types. Based on the epidemiology and modeling methods of the Ministry's Mental Health Clinical Care and Prevention (MH-CCP) Model, it is designed to provide evidence and justification to enable more equitable program funding decisions by funders in a language that they can understand.

There were four inter-related activities that provided the basis of the final resource provided to the Ministry and the MH Commission:

  1. Comprehensive analysis and updating of sector mapping data against NSW population & socioeconomic data. (counted approx. 400 programs across the state)
  2. Literature search and broad sector consultations to establish benchmarks for CMO community mental health service delivery.
  3. Identification of the gaps for CMO community mental health services, to address population needs.
  4. Proposing recommendations for development of the CMO community mental health sector to address the gaps (e.g. directions for future program and infrastructure development).

The findings, especially around gaps and program targets have been very informative. It was not hard to establish that no LHD is over-serviced, and we have been able to confirm that many programs are not being funded in a way that makes an awful lot of sense at a broad population level. Many gaps have been highlighted to the Ministry and profiles will be delivered to each LHD to encourage them to focus on service areas where they may have a significant lack of community support available.

The planning targets really throw down the gauntlet to local planners to aim for a level of resourcing to the sector that would roughly double the amount of community managed service provision that is currently funded. This is generally in line with the estimates being developed by the Ministry of Health for the National Mental Health Service Planning Framework, and takes into account planning targets for hospital and acute services.

While the project was not publicised as much as our other projects due to the classified information that it worked with, we are hopeful that the planning outcomes will justify the 18 months of effort and commitment many of our member organisations have put into this project. There may also be opportunities to publish much of the work at a later date.