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Monitoring mental health and suicide prevention reform: National Report 2020

Glossary of terms and acronyms

Burden of disease

A measure of the impact of a disease or injury on a population.


In this document, an individual who provides ongoing personal care, support, advocacy and/or assistance to a person with mental illness.


An approach to design that includes all stakeholders (for example, consumers, carers, researchers, health workers, clinicians, funders, policy makers).

Community supports

Nonclinical services, provided in a community setting, that assist people with mental illness to live meaningful and contributing lives. These may include services that relate to daily living skills, self-care and self-management, social connectedness, housing, education and employment.

Complex support needs pathway

An improvement to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) aimed at providing specialised support to participants living with disability who need a higher level of specialised supports in their plan. Participants under this pathway are identified by the complexity of their situations and personal factors, such as being homeless or returning to the community from living in residential aged care.


People who identify as having a living or lived experience of mental illness, irrespective of whether they have a formal diagnosis, who have accessed mental health services and/or received treatment. Consumers include people who describe themselves as a 'peer', 'survivor' or 'expert by experience'.

Continuity of Support measure

A program that provides psychosocial support to people who accessed support under the National Psychosocial Support Transition measure and have been assessed as ineligible for the NDIS.


The term used for the disease caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2, as established by the World Health Organization, the World Organisation for Animal Health, and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. COVID-19 is also known as '2019 novel coronavirus' '2019-nCoV' or 'coronavirus'.


A mental illness characterised by periods of low mood and significant impairment due to symptoms such as loss of interest and enjoyment, reduced energy and concentration, and changes in sleep and appetite.

Digital divide

The gap that exists between individuals who have access to modern information and communication technology and those who lack access.

Digital health

An overarching term to describe the use of information and communications technology in support of health and health-related fields, including healthcare services; health surveillance; health literature; and health education, knowledge and research.


The unjust or prejudicial treatment of a person based on the group, class or category to which the person is perceived to belong.

Early intervention

Identifying signs and risks of mental illness early, followed by appropriate, timely intervention and support that can reduce the severity, duration and recurrence of mental illness and its associated social disadvantage.


An Australian non-profit organisation for youth mental health established by the Australian Government in 2006.


The Australian Government describes the JobKeeper payment as a payment made to eligible businesses and not-for-profits affected by COVID-19 to support them in retaining employees.


The Australian Government describes the JobSeeker payment as a payment made to eligible individuals seeking employment.

Justice system

In this report, all aspects of the investigative, adjudicative and correctional processes that deal with crime, including policy making and law reform; policing; courts and tribunals; dispute resolution; penalties and fines; prisons, corrections services and parole; legal assistance; and victim support.


The collective term for people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, gender diverse, intersex, queer and questioning. Many subgroups form part of the broader LGBTIQ+ movement. Note that there are multiple variations of this term (for example, LGBTQIA).

Lived experience

In this report, lived experience refers to people who have either current or past experience of mental illness as a consumer and/or a carer.

Local Health Network (LHN)

A legal entity established by a state or territory government to devolve operational management for public hospitals, and accountability for local service delivery, to the local level. An LHN can contain one or more hospitals.

Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS)

A listing of the Medicare services subsidised by the Australian Government. The Schedule is part of the wider Medicare Benefits Scheme managed by the Australian Government Department of Health and administered by Services Australia.

Mental health

The World Health Organization defines mental health as a state of wellbeing in which every person realises their own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to contribute to their community.

Mental health problem

A mental health problem that reduces a person's cognitive, emotional or social abilities, but not to the extent that it meets the criteria for a mental illness diagnosis. These problems can result from life stressors, and often resolve with time or when the individual's situation changes. A mental health problem may develop into a mental illness if it persists or increases in severity.

Mental ill-health

The Life in Mind National Communications Charter defines mental ill-health as a broad term that includes both mental illness and mental health problems.

Mental illness

A wide spectrum of diagnosable health conditions that significantly affect how a person feels, thinks, behaves, and interacts with other people. Mental illness can vary in both severity and duration. In this report, 'mental illness' is used in place of 'mental health disorder' and 'mental health disease'.

National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)

The NDIS provides individualised support packages for eligible people with permanent and significant disability, and their families and carers.

National Psychosocial Support measure

Provides psychosocial support to people with severe mental illness who are not currently receiving supports through other Australian Government, state and territory programs or the NDIS.

National Workplace Initiative (NWI)

A nationally consistent approach to workplace mental health. The NWI aims to bring about national consistency in how organisations and workplaces support their employees. It aims to create an evidence-based framework for creating mentally healthy workplaces; connect organisations to the right resources via a digital platform; amplify and strengthen exemplar programs already underway; and highlight gaps in research, resources or services.

Nongovernment organisations

Private, not-for-profit, community-managed organisations that receive government funding specifically for the purpose of providing community support services.


The World Health Organization defines a pandemic as an epidemic occurring worldwide, or over a very wide area, crossing international boundaries and usually affecting a large number of people.

Partners in Recovery

Aims to support people with severe and persistent mental illness with complex needs, and their carers and families, by getting multiple sectors, services and supports they may come into contact with (and could benefit from) to work in a more collaborative, coordinated and integrated way. Funding for Partners in Recovery has transitioned into the Continuity of Support measure as part of changes to the way in which psychosocial support is provided with the introduction of the NDIS.

Peer workforce

The supply of people who are employed, either part-time or full-time, on the basis of their lived experience, to provide support to people experiencing a similar situation. The people who make up the peer workforce may be called peer workers, consumer workers, carer workers or lived experience workers.

Poor mental health

When our mental health is not what we would want it to be. Finding it difficult to manage how we think, feel and act with respect to daily stresses could be a sign of poor mental health. See also mental health and mental health problem.


An intervention conducted after a suicide, largely taking the form of support for the bereaved (family, friends, professionals and peers).

Prevalence of mental illness

The proportion of people in a population who meet diagnostic criteria for any mental illness at a given time.


In this report, approaches that work to reduce incidence, prevalence and recurrence of mental ill-health.

Primary Health Network (PHN)

An administrative health region established to deliver access to primary care services for patients, as well as coordinate with local hospitals to improve the operational efficiency of the network. The seven key priorities for targeted work for PHNs are mental health, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, population health, health workforce, digital health, aged care, and alcohol and other drugs.

Private hospital

A privately owned and operated hospital, catering for patients who are treated by a doctor of their choice. Patients are charged fees for accommodation and other services provided by the hospital, and relevant medical and paramedical practitioners.

Psychological distress

One measure of poor mental health, which can be described as feelings of tiredness, anxiety, nervousness, hopelessness, depression and sadness.

Psychosocial disability

An impairment or restriction arising due to mental illness that can limit an individual's ability to function, think clearly and enjoy full physical health, or manage their social and emotional welfare. Although not everyone who has a mental health issue will experience psychosocial disability, those who do can experience severe effects and social disadvantage.

Psychosocial support

Processes, interventions and services that aim to support an individual to maintain their best possible level of independence. Psychosocial support assists people to mend and rebuild emotionally, cognitively, practically and socially, and helps people to develop or regain skills necessary to be able to fully participate in society.

Public hospital

A hospital controlled by a state or territory health authority. In Australia, public hospitals may offer free diagnostic services, treatment, care and accommodation.


Recovery is different for everyone. For the purposes of this report, recovery is defined as being able to create and live a meaningful and contributing life, with or without the presence of mental illness.


The restriction of an individual's freedom of movement by physical or mechanical means.


The confinement of an individual at any time of the day or night alone in a room or area from which free exit is prevented.

Social and emotional wellbeing

A holistic concept that usually reflects the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander understanding of health, and recognises the importance of connection to land, culture, spirituality, ancestry, family and community, and how these affect the individual.

Socioeconomic disadvantage

Reduced access to material and social resources, and subsequent reduced capacity to participate in society, relative to others in the community.

Stepped care

An evidence-based, staged system comprising a hierarchy of interventions, from the least to the most intensive, matched to the individual's needs. In a stepped care approach, an individual will be supported to transition to higher-intensity services or lower-intensity services as their needs change.


A mark of shame, disgrace or disapproval on the basis of an individual's characteristics, which results in that individual being rejected, discriminated against, and/or excluded from participating in a number of areas of society.

Substance use disorder

A category of mental illnesses that relate to problems arising from the use of alcohol or other drugs.


A term that covers suicidal thoughts, suicide plans and suicide attempts.


Deliberately ending one's own life.

Support coordination

An additional support provided to NDIS participants that aims to develop a participant's ability to connect with their supports, and develop the skills necessary to understand and implement their plan. Where necessary, it provides additional targeted support to participants in highly complex or high-risk situations.

Vision 2030

A blueprint for mental health in Australia that outlines the goals and objectives for mental health, and the systems or services that may meet these goals and objectives.

Aboriginal flag Torres Strait Islander flag

Acknowledgement of Country

The Commission acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands throughout Australia.
We pay our respects to their clans, and to the elders, past present and emerging, and acknowledge their continuing connection to land, sea and community.


The Commission is committed to embracing diversity and eliminating all forms of discrimination in the provision of health services. The Commission welcomes all people irrespective of ethnicity, lifestyle choice, faith, sexual orientation and gender identity.

Lived Experience

We acknowledge the individual and collective contributions of those with a lived and living experience of mental ill-health and suicide, and those who love, have loved and care for them. Each person’s journey is unique and a valued contribution to Australia’s commitment to mental health suicide prevention systems reform.