A review and critique of mental health policy development (pp. 255-264)
Authors: Said Shahtahmasebi
Abstract: In recent years public wellbeing has been central to the mental health policy debates. Mental wellbeing is subjective and is dependent on individual traits, socio-economic, political and environmental factors. The question is whether the policy development process is able to translate subjective wellbeing into appropriate policies. In this paper, I explore policy documents on mental health from WHO, New Zealand, UK and Australia and discuss the policy ideology in relation to evidence for policy action. Method: An internet search for mental health policy documents retrieved documents on mental health policy from WHO, UK, Australia and New Zealand. Results: The documents were analysed for their policy statements and recommended actions. Discussion: I argue that there is always an unresolvable conflict between policy statements and policy actions due to often subjective public wellbeing and the complex interactions of the many variables affecting human behaviour and decision making (e.g. politics, economy, and social). Therefore, it is plausible that objective and clinical scales e.g. rates of morbidity, mortality, services utilization, and a variety of clinical scales measuring mental wellbeing should be used to measure public quality of life and wellbeing. This is a highly contentious issue requiring a clinical interventional approach which translates into an increase in psychiatric and mental health intervention services. Conclusion: We can expect well-intended policies to be translated into ‘more of the same’ policy actions, when evidence-based information is lacking.