The Australian Government acknowledges that Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a mental illness that can have a profound impact, not only on those living the experience but also on their family and friends. Since 2014, the first week of October each year has been recognised as BPD Awareness Week, highlighting the significant psychological, physical and emotional impacts of BPD, with the aim of promoting awareness and understanding of this complex illness.
To ensure those with mental illness, including BPD, can receive timely and appropriate support, the Australian Government tasked the National Mental Health Commission to undertake a review of all existing mental health programs and services across the government, non-government and private sectors with the aim of delivering these in a more effective and efficient way.
In response to the Commission’s review, the Government is undertaking a range of reform activities in order to develop a more effective and flexible mental health system to improve the lives of Australians, with, or at risk of mental illness. It is envisaged that through these reforms, those presenting with BPD will be wholly and successfully supported as part of the broader mental health system. We are also working in partnership with consumers, carers, mental health stakeholders and state and territory governments, to improve both the mental health system as well as outcomes for those with a mental illness, including BPD.
In March, the Minister for Health announced the establishment of the Primary Health Network Advisory Panel on Mental Health to provide advice to support the Government’s plans to improve the delivery of frontline mental health services, through Primary Health Networks. The Panel will be co-chaired by Mental Health Australia Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mr Frank Quinlan and National Mental Health Commission CEO, Dr Peggy Brown.
As part of the 2017-18 Budget, the Government committed $80 million over four years for community mental health services to assist people with severe mental illness resulting in psychosocial disability who are not eligible for assistance through the National Disability Insurance Scheme, including people with BPD. The additional Commonwealth investment will be delivered once agreements have been reached with appropriate commitments from each state and territory.
In regards to research in this area, the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) is the Australian Government’s primary funding body for health and medical research. The NHMRC invests in research through a variety of competitive funding schemes.
The majority of NHMRC’s funding schemes are investigator-initiated research.
In 2013, the NHMRC released their Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Management of Borderline Personality Disorder (the Guideline), a resource that is suitable for use in Australian health care settings and is intended to direct the effective and appropriate treatment of those presenting with BPD. The Guideline was developed by a multidisciplinary committee of clinical, consumer and carer representatives with specific expertise in BPD. The Guideline is a useful resource for mental health care professionals and service providers and answers a series of practical questions about how to treat people with BPD, how to support families and carers of people with BPD, and how the configuration of health services can best meet the needs of people with BPD. The special needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with BPD were also considered. The Guideline was also informed by a rigorous analysis of international evidence and due consideration of high quality clinical guidelines for managing BPD that had been developed by other countries, particularly the United Kingdom. Electronic versions of the Guideline and summary documents are available on the NHMRC website and the NHMRC clinical practice guidelines portal .
On 26 June 2016, the Coalition also committed $192 million over four years in order to strengthen mental health care in Australia, with a focus on new and innovative models of mental health care, as well as better support for young people and those at risk of suicide, including those with BPD.
Improving the mental health system and outcomes for people with mental illnesses, including BPD, requires a collaborative effort. The Australian Government is committed to continued consultation and engagement in order to achieve better mental health for all Australians.