Preventing mental illness: Closing the evidence-practice gap through workforce and services planning

Gareth Furber, Leonie Segal, Matthew Leach, Catherine Turnbull, Nicholas Procter, Mark Diamond, Stephanie Miller, Patrick McGorry

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    20 Citations (Scopus)


    Background: Mental illness is prevalent across the globe and affects multiple aspects of life. Despite advances in treatment, there is little evidence that prevalence rates of mental illness are falling. While the prevention of cardiovascular disease and cancers are common in the policy dialogue and in service delivery, the prevention of mental illness remains a neglected area. There is accumulating evidence that mental illness is at least partially preventable, with increasing recognition that its antecedents are often found in infancy, childhood, adolescence and youth, creating multiple opportunities into young adulthood for prevention. Developing valid and reproducible methods for translating the evidence base in mental illness prevention into actionable policy recommendations is a crucial step in taking the prevention agenda forward. Method: Building on an aetiological model of adult mental illness that emphasizes the importance of intervening during infancy, childhood, adolescence and youth, we adapted a workforce and service planning framework, originally applied to diabetes care, to the analysis of the workforce and service structures required for best-practice prevention of mental illness. Results: The resulting framework consists of 6 steps that include identifying priority risk factors, profiling the population in terms of these risk factors to identify at-risk groups, matching these at-risk groups to best-practice interventions, translation of these interventions to competencies, translation of competencies to workforce and service estimates, and finally, exploring the policy implications of these workforce and services estimates. The framework outlines the specific tasks involved in translating the evidence-base in prevention, to clearly actionable workforce, service delivery and funding recommendations. Conclusions: The framework describes the means to deliver mental illness prevention that the literature indicates is achievable, and is the basis of an ongoing project to model the workforce and service structures required for mental illness prevention.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number283
    JournalBMC health services research
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 24 Jul 2015


    • Health policy
    • Health services planning
    • Mental illness
    • Prevention
    • Workforce planning

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Health Policy

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