Establishment of MHLEEN

Objective 1.2:

Make available training and capacity building for people with a lived experience

Action 1.2.1

Explore subsidies, funding and co-contributions to enable capacity building initiatives for people with a lived experience

In June 2018, the Commonwealth Department of Health engaged Brisbane North PHN to chair and project manage the newly formed National PHN Mental Health Lived Experience Engagement Network – and MHLEEN was born.

MHLEEN has provided the opportunity for sharing approaches to co-design and lived experience engagement and consultation – which form a key part of the Commonwealth’s mental health reform policy. MHLEEN’s activities were consistent with the Department’s guidelines and framework for consumer and carer participation within PHNs and further support the implementation of key actions around lived experience representation under the Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan.

During 2018/2019 MHLEEN undertook a stocktake of engagement and participation opportunities occurring around Australia with PHNs along with developing case studies of good practice examples both with co-design in the commissioning space and the use of the lived experience workforce.

Given the success of MHLEEN in increasing the participation of people with lived experience in the development of new programs by PHNs since its inception, the Department have committed to an additional three years’ funding for the network to continue funding existing MHLEEN activities and provide additional funding to expand the capacity of MHLEEN to meet its goal of improving lived experience representation in PHN catchments.

Key achievements

  • MHLEEN was initially only funded for 12 months – but the Department of Health has committed further funding for an additional three years
  • Increased number of PHNs employing and/or engaging consultants with a lived experience
  • PHN Case studies demonstrating embedding engagement
  • Stocktake providing benchmark for longitudinal research into meeting PHN Guidelines.

Key learnings

  • PHNs across Australia are functioning at different levels of engagement with people with a lived experience of mental illness, and different levels of collaboration with their local Hospital and Health Services.
  • The need for regular communication and sharing of information, resources and strategies for embedding a lived experience workforce, along with the opportunity to discuss issues and barriers is key to ongoing development of the collective lived experience voice.
  • Without a national peak body, there will continue to be fragmentation and challenges in implementing a coordinated and collaborative approach to meeting the Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan’s objectives for lived experience engagement and lived experience workforce development.
  • If your organisation has a culture and commitment to authentic community engagement and development – not just in the mental health space – then you are on your way!

Get involved

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