I have a list as long as my arm of blog posts I have been meaning to write of late, not least a reflection or two on the recent Royal Commission Report into the Victorian Mental Health System. Unfortunately, they are all on the backburner a bit as I focus on client work.

In the meantime, I’m pleased that some of my submission work from last year is being acknowledged.

In November, my response to the draft Productivity Commission report was quoted in the final report on Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs):

EAPs are poorly evaluated. Many employers do not know what they are purchasing and, once implemented, do not know the outcomes that are being achieved for their employees. Often the only metric supplied to employers is utilisation rate, which tells little about the effectiveness of the EAP and is often a broader indicator of EAP awareness and the organisation’s culture regarding mental health. Further, there is no ‘ideal’ utilisation rate so it is a largely meaningless benchmark. (p. 339)

This comes as part of Action 7.5, which calls for minimum standards for EAPs and their providers. In the short-term, this means improving guidance for employers as to which programs are most effective, and longer term, developing minimum standards for providers, and the evaluation of programs. Developing meaningful measures for workplace mental health interventions is something I’m really passionate about and continue to work on.

In March, my submission to the Victorian Royal Commission was cited in the final report, having also been featured as a case study in the interim report. I was really happy to see myself quoted on the frustrations of trying to navigate the system – a barrier to access for consumers.

Online information on how to access specialist services is hard to navigate, links are often broken or outdated. While the [Department of Health and Human Services] website includes information on services as generally available, it is challenging to find information on specific services available in your area and service eligibility requirements. …. If the onus is on the consumer to navigate to a service and the system makes it too hard, consumers will simply not access the service. (Vol. 1, p. 201)

My quote points to some of the relatively simple things the Government and services could do to make the consumer experience less stressful. But fundamentally, sits within a broader recommendation that recognises that the current system of catchment areas and rigid eligibility requirements significantly inhibits consumers access to services. It remains to be seen how the Royal Commission’s system restructuring recommendations will actually be implemented.