Alan Fels, the newly created National Mental Health Commission, is not alien to the needs and issues facing family, friends and carers of people suffering mental illness. His daughter was diagnosed with schizoprehenia 17 years ago and he knows, first hand, the stress and burden families and carers have to deal with daily, and the long term prospects of providing on going care, as carers themselves age.
As the National Mental Health Commissioner, Fels will be seeking to ensure that bipartisan support for improving mental health care is translated to action. His previous high profile role as the chair of the Australian Competition and Consumer Council makes him aware of what economists call the demand side of the equation - the needs of consumers and carers. "It's important that mental health is not just led from the supply side," he stressed.
Whilst passionate advocacy will be an important function, Fels said that the Commission will play a role as a dispassionate research and reporting body.
The Federal Minister of Health and Aging, Mark Butler officially launched the National Mental Health Commission (MHC) last week, it's first meeting held in Sydney.
Professor Fels said that the federal body of the MHC, operating out of Sydney with 6 1/2 full time staff, will be needing more resources, to ensure there's pressure to deliver on promises made by the government, by having set goals and targets as measures.