Briefing paper

Community mental health and primary mental health care

Public health Mental health Communities Medicine Policy Australia

This background paper arose from the National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission (NHHRC) 2009 Final Report and its recommendations about future directions for primary health care. The recommendations for primary health care included 'community mental health', which led to concern that the scope and complexity of community mental health care had been overlooked or misunderstood.

This paper seeks to clarify points of overlap and difference between primary health care and community mental health. It also identifies how their linkages could be strengthened whilst ensuring maintenance of the capacity and integrity of specialist mental health services delivered in the community.

Associated with this background paper are new Community Mental Health Guiding Principles developed to clarify the nature and scope of community mental health care, and to provide principles to guide its further development across Australia.

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