The Community Mental Health and Wellbeing Sector

QAMH intentionally refers to the community managed mental health sector as the Community Mental Health and Wellbeing Sector to emphasise the unique contribution and preferred future direction of the sector as outlined in our Wellbeing First Report.

This sector includes non-government, not-for-profit, community-based mental health organisations who support people to live their best lives within their chosen community.

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Components to Australia’s Mental Health System

There are many components to Australia’s mental health system including public and private hospital care, outpatient care from multidisciplinary clinical teams, and primary care from GPs and psychologists. These make up the traditional or ‘clinical’ approach to mental health care.

The Community Mental Health and Wellbeing Sector complements these services, offering a unique approach to helping people in their recovery journey.

They operate throughout the mental health continuum – from early intervention to severe/complex mental illness. But what distinguishes them from more clinical models of care is their focus on wellbeing rather than illness and the ability to offer practical supports to help people connect with their communities and live well. They do this by assisting people to build on their strengths and increase their capacity to live a full and meaningful life.

Sector Funding is Crucial

Community-based, not-for-profit organisations which make up the sector operate in a difficult fiscal environment, where they are dependent upon state and federal funding grants and the NDIS fee-for-service model. Despite a large body of evidence supporting its efficacy, the Community Mental Health and Wellbeing Sector has traditionally received less funding than clinical services. Moreover, its funding has not increased in line with population growth. Much of QAMH’s advocacy work focuses on securing increased funding for our sector so our members can continue to offer high-quality services.

Our Sector Strengths

The strengths of the Community Mental Health and Wellbeing Sector are numerous. It offers a diversity of services and programs, many of which have evolved organically in different geographic regions responding to the local community’s needs. Programs are accessible, being located in people’s communities and not requiring expensive out-of-pocket fees. Staff often have lived experience of mental illness or caring for someone with a mental illness, and may work in a designated peer role. By drawing upon their personal life-changing journey of mental health challenges, people with lived experience provide a living example of hope and recovery.

Sector Snapshot:

The Community Mental Health project provides a snapshot of the Queensland community mental health and wellbeing workforce and an understanding of the key challenges faced by the sector. Between December 2020 and March 2021 QAMH consulted with 50 service managers, 121 frontline workers, and 14 HR managers / officers across Queensland who provided a range of mental health supports and services.

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What are the key findings?

Workforce Profile

70 Percent Female Icon

70% Female

Older Age Demographics

Older age demographics

60% < 40 years

Relatively New to the Sector

Relatively new to the sector

55% of the workforce joined within the last 5 years

Employment Contract

Employment contract:

63% permanent,
21% temporary,
14% casual

96 Percent Hold Formal Qualifications

96% hold formal qualifications:

60% vocational and
74% university qualifications

Source: The Community Mental Health Workforce project. An initiative funded by Queensland Health. June 2021

To learn more about The Community Mental Health Workforce Project including sector challenges, knowledge gaps, training needs identified and key recommendations download our Community-Mental-Health-Workforce-Report

What are community mental health and wellbeing services?

Community mental health and wellbeing services encompass a broad range of Non-Governmental Organisations that primarily deliver wellbeing supports in the community to support people to live their lives.

These supports: