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Mental Health Australia using the Guide in public discussion about collaborative relationships

Mental Health Australia (formerly the Mental Health Council of Australia) has a formal collaboration with a group of pharmaceutical companies. Known as the Mental Health Australia Pharma Collaboration, partner companies agree on an annual workplan of specific activities along with a broad range of core benefits for all parties that are outlined in the Working Together Guide.

The workplan for the Mental Health Australia Pharma Collaboration is generally divided into key priority areas including focus on a policy or research project, a medicines-focused component, a promotional opportunity that is usually aligned to a key event and funding to assist mental health consumers and carers to participate in key policy development. The Collaboration also supports activities around World Mental Health Day.

The Mental Health Australia Pharma Collaboration has funded several key documents that have led to key policy reform. Perhaps the most important was Not For Service (2005), a seminal report that documented mental health services in each state/territory measured against the national mental health standards. More recently, the Collaboration funded a survey of mental health practitioners including mental health nurses, psychologists, social workers, occupational therapists, general practitioners, pharmacists and psychiatrists. The resulting report Shared Decision Making in Mental Health Treatment (2012) demonstrated that while support for shared decision making among practitioners is high, there are a range of important barriers to its implementation. These reports have provided important evidence for Mental Health Australia to use when lobbying for reform of the mental health system.

Funding from the Mental Health Australia Pharma Collaboration has also been used to assist mental health consumers and carers to participate in national policy forums and events. This assistance is critical to ensure the voices of consumers and carers are considered in the development of any system reform priorities. The Collaboration has also provided funding to develop a series of checklists for consumers and carers to use when discussing healthcare options with a clinician.

Mental Health Australia’s collaboration with pharmaceutical companies is an example of how successful partnerships can be formed with the Working Together Guide providing the underlying principles by which the parties operate. The Guide has also been useful for Mental Health Australia in articulating the positive aspects of collaborative arrangements between the organisation and pharmaceutical companies, both to internal stakeholders and more broadly to the media and public. Mental Health Australia has also used the Guide in developing Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) with the partner companies.