In consultation with our members and public advisory group, the Australian Mental Health Party has developed a set of core values to guide us into the future. Our core values will be used as a lens (or prism) through which the party will evaluate issues, inform policies, make decisions, and select appropriate candidates for representation. We see the development of these principles as an ongoing evolution across time, so we welcome your feedback as the party progresses.
Our party believes in empowering people through:
- Providing informed access to mental health care when needed.
- Supporting community engagement for all people who live in our society.
- Helping to shape public perception about mental health beyond the language of ‘illness’. Across a healthy range of functioning, people think, feel, and act in a variety of ways to cope. Empowerment must include meaningful support for those who face adversity without forcing them to accept illness-labels.
- Reducing the use of involuntary treatment and restraint.
- Meaningful participation in work of those who live with a mental health condition and are able and willing to work.
- Aiming for improved quality of life for all people, through investment of time and energy in personally rewarding activities outside of vocational life. All Australians should have opportunities to participate in activities that have been proven contributors to well-being; such as community events, sports and recreation, culture and the arts.
We believe there is a need to create more equity and equality right across our society. In the context of positive mental health and social cohesion, this can be better achieved in Australia by:
- Giving equal priority of care to mental health conditions. We stress that this does not exclusively refer to treatment of mental health conditions with medication, but rather, we believe that giving equal recognition to mental health means recognising the full scope of care and support which should be accessible to those who need and want help.
- Identifying specific needs in mental health care and tailoring support to individuals, families, and groups.
- Providing a voice in politics to represent mental health and positive psychological and social functioning. Australia has a long history of overlooking or neglecting any consideration for mental life. In turn, this has resulted in a society which fails to account for the experiences of those who are most affected by our political decisions.
- Recognising, respecting, and finding value in the diversity of our society.
- Looking for better ways we can help each other grow individually and collectively.
- Addressing problematic beliefs and attitudes maintained by wider society. Our political party has a clear role to highlight the misuse of power and categorization of others with sub-humanizing labels. We aim to address both the practical factors and public perceptions around which such attitudes originate.
We support dignity and self-determination for all age groups, expressed through our support for one another right across our society. Our support for mental health and positive well-being covers a range of areas:
- We aim to put funding in alignment with the true scale of mental health issues and the genuine need for support which presently exists in our community. Australians deserve access to mental health care regardless of their ability to pay, inclusive of community support services, psychological care, and appropriate medical treatment. On that point we acknowledge the clear costs to our society when we neglect mental health in terms of damage to our productivity, human suffering, dysfunction and conflict, and in some cases lost lives.
- We will ensure that mental health policy is properly informed by evidence of demand and need as defined in contemporary research and standards of best practice in the field. Alongside our proportionate investment in mental health support our party believes that the research agenda in mental health must look beyond basic diagnostic and treatment factors to include the other important issues, such as social determinants of health, and contextual issues which are intrinsically connected to mental health. Issues around poverty, housing, geographic distance, family conflict, and personal experiences associated with mental health, all require much more attention in our research.
- We aim to improve the transition of people with mental health conditions from hospital care to the general community. This may be achieved by establishing systems of care that offer ongoing person-centred support throughout the transition period; establishing communication processes to enable the exchange of basic information and promote ongoing contact with people who are seeking support and help.
- Our party will change policies and practices to improve prevention, early detection, and treatment of mental health problems.
- We value the diversity of our people, aiming towards a system which tailors support to the unique presenting needs of individual cases. The type and duration of support we provide to people must be flexible and adaptive with consideration for socio-cultural factors, environmental variables, context, personal treatment preferences, and a recognition for the strengths and resources of people at all levels of functioning.
Meaningful connections to people and places shape who we are and what we become. In our relationships we learn new things about ourselves and others as we find our place in the world. Our party values and supports relationships of care in our society, not simply for the practical value of connecting well to others but also because better relationships make us better people.
Isolation and disconnection are complex problems. Despite a growing population and technological advances, many Australians remain distant and vulnerable in the solitary nature of their lives. Our party will aim for policies which help people join together with common purpose to enrich our society.
We support equality across all dimensions of society, in opportunities, in the workplace, in the law, in recognition of relationships, and also in marriage. We also extend the principle of supporting healthy relationships to many other domains. For example, we envisage developing policies which support more effective working relationships in the vocational setting, improving the quality of teacher-student relationships, and developing positive relationships in health and mental health care. Likewise, we value the role of healthy and productive relationships across our society (families, couples, carers, mentors, workplaces, peers, and so on).