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It is increasingly recognised that intersectoral linkages between mental health and other health and support sectors are essential for providing effective care for individuals with severe and persistent mental illness. The extent to which intersectoral collaboration and approaches to achieve it are detailed in mental health policy has not yet been systematically examined.
Thirty-eight mental health policy documents from 22 jurisdictions in Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Canada were identified via a web search. Information was extracted and synthesised on: the extent to which intersectoral collaboration was an objective or guiding principle of policy; the sectors acknowledged as targets for collaboration; and the characteristics of detailed intersectoral collaboration efforts.
Recurring themes in objectives/guiding principles included a whole of government approach, coordination and integration of services, and increased social and economic participation. All jurisdictions acknowledged the importance of intersectoral collaboration, particularly with employment, education, housing, community, criminal justice, drug and alcohol, physical health, Indigenous, disability, emergency and aged care services. However, the level of detail provided varied widely. Where detailed strategies were described, the most common linkage mechanisms were joint service planning through intersectoral coordinating committees or liaison workers, interagency agreements, staff training and joint service provision.
Sectors and mechanisms identified for collaboration were largely consistent across jurisdictions. Little information was provided about strategies for accountability, resourcing, monitoring and evaluation of intersectoral collaboration initiatives, highlighting an area for further improvement. Examples of collaboration detailed in the policies provide a useful resource for other countries.
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