Volunteering Australia has highlighted volunteering as a ‘critical gap’ in a submission to the Australian Department of Health consultation on the Productivity Commission’s report on Mental Health.
The Productivity Commission’s recommendations need to be adapted to include the role of volunteering in securing the nation’s mental health. This means recognising that volunteering contributes in three main ways:
- Sustaining good mental health – Every year, millions of volunteers benefit individually from the protective mental health value of volunteering.
- Recovering from mental illness – Volunteering is beneficial for people living with mental illness and can be important as part of a mental health recovery journey.
- Supporting mental health services – Volunteers are a vital part of the mental health workforce, contributing to the mental health system and the wider community.
The proposed new mental health strategy needs to include how volunteering can sustain and enhance its contribution. Increasing opportunities for volunteering (generally and as part of the mental health workforce) should be part of the Australian Government’s strategic focus and action on mental health.