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Mental Health Standards


Welcome to our quick guide on Mental Health Standards in Australia. Knowing and understanding these standards can be important for people using services offering Mental Health support. These include healthcare providers, hospitals, community mental health centers, NDIS providers and digital Mental Health services.

Each of these services and organisations need to meet particular standards around quality and safety to be able to continue their work with people living with mental health concerns.

If you are unhappy with the quality of care you or somebody else is receiving, finding out what standards apply and how they are accredited (see meaning of accreditation below) could be a pathway for raising your concerns.

Below we explain the Mental Health Standards and some tips on how to ask questions about them.

What Standards apply to my circumstances?

Unfortunately, this is not an easy question to answer. This can depend on your own situation, the conditions of the organisation, service, and sometimes location. To assist you, we have put together some tips for questions you could ask about standards and a list of common situations for you to explore

How do I ask about Standards?

It can be hard to ask questions at times, particularly when you also depend on the services you receive. Here are some suggested questions that may help you start a conversation that will help inform you about your rights and what to expect regarding the services you receive:

  • Accreditation and Standards: “Can you provide information about your accreditation and licensing? Are you compliant with national or state mental health standards?”
  • Staff Qualifications and Professional Requirements: “What are the qualifications and training of the staff who will be providing my care and support?”
  • Treatment Approaches and Policies: “What treatment approaches do you use? Do you have any specific policies or guidelines that guide your treatment and care services?”
  • Client Rights and Confidentiality: “Can you explain how my rights as a client are protected here? How do you ensure confidentiality and privacy in treatment?”
  • Safety and Emergency Procedures: “What safety measures and emergency procedures do you have in place to ensure client wellbeing?”
  • Feedback and Complaints Process: “If I have feedback or a complaint, what is the process for addressing it? Is there a formal grievance procedure?”
  • Outcome Measurement and Quality Improvement: “How do you measure treatment outcomes and client satisfaction? What quality improvement processes do you have in place?”
  • Cultural and Linguistic Competence: “Do you provide culturally and linguistically appropriate services? How do you accommodate clients from diverse backgrounds?”
  • Client-Centered Care: “How do you ensure that the care provided is client-centered and respects individual needs and preferences?”
  • Collaboration with Other Services: “How do you work with other services and healthcare providers in managing and coordinating my care?”
  • Continuity of Care: “How do you ensure continuity of care, especially during transitions between different services or levels of care?”
  • Participation in Treatment Planning: “Am I, or my family/carer, involved in the treatment planning process? How is my input incorporated into my care plan?”

Hospitals and other health service organisations

To become accredited, health service organisations must pass an assessment by an external agency to show they have implemented all of the requirements of the National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) Standards. The assessments are conducted by independent accrediting agencies, approved by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, (the Commission) as part of the Australian Health Service Safety and Quality Accreditation (AHSSQA) Scheme.

Click here to learn more.

Community based mental health organisations

Community-based mental health organisations play an important role for many facing mental health challenges. The standards they follow, determined by their funding source, ensure the maintenance of safe and effective practices.

Click on the standards below to learn more.

The primary aims of the NSQMH Standards for CMOs are to continuously improve the quality of mental health service provision and to protect service users from harm.

The NSQMH Standards for CMOs are voluntary. However, funders may require contracted services to be accredited as part of their processes of assurance that services are safe.

Click here to learn more.

Developed by the Australian Department of Health, the NSMHS outlines standards aimed at helping mental health service providers to continually improve and better support consumers through:

  • The delivery of mental health services
  • Compliance with legislation
  • Standards of communication and consent
  • Policies and procedures, particularly to address risks to consumers

Click here to learn more.

These standards are specific to registered NDIS providers and the supports and services they provide to consumers. Together with the NDIS Code of Conduct, the NDIS Practice Standards form the framework of what NDIS participants should expect from Stride.

The core features of these standards include:

  • Rights and responsibilities of NDIS participants
  • The delivery of supports
  • Governance and operational management
  • The environment in which supports are delivered

Click here to learn more.

Mental Health Practitioners

Mental health practitioners are professionals who specialise in diagnosing, treating, and supporting individuals with mental health issues. Each type of mental health practitioner has a unique role and specialty, but all work towards the common goal of improving mental health and well-being. The choice of a mental health practitioner depends on what a person is experiencing and their specific needs, the severity of their condition, and the type of therapy or treatment required.

Each practitioner will often have a professional body or standards they must comply with to maintain their qualifications. Below are some the types of practitioners you may come across including the professional body that set their standards.


Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialise in mental health. They can can diagnose mental health conditions, provide therapy, and prescribe medications.

Professional Body – The RANZCP is responsible for training, educating, and representing psychiatrists in Australia and New Zealand.

Psychologists are professionals who specialise in the study of the mind and behaviour. They provide therapy and counselling but typically do not prescribe medication.

Professional Body – Psychology is nationally regulated by the Psychology Board of Australia for the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency. The Psychology Board of Australia website is

All psychologists have completed a minimum of six years of accredited education and training. All psychologists must adhere to the APS Code of Ethics and complete mandatory Continuing Professional Development (CPD).

These are Social Workers with specialised training in mental health. They provide therapy and help individuals access social services.

Professional Body – The Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) is the professional body for social workers in Australia. The AASW Code of Ethics 2020 (the code), outlines the ethical principles and the ethical conduct that is required of AASW members for effective, professional, and accountable social work practice in all social work contexts. It is intended to assist all social workers, collectively and individually, to act in ethically accountable ways, in the pursuit of the profession’s aims.


These professionals hold qualifications in counselling and are licensed to provide therapy and counselling. To become a registered Counsellor in Australia, you need an appropriate Counselling qualification.

Professional Body – The largest industry association for Counsellors in Australia, the Australian Counselling Association (ACA), accepts counsellors into its membership with a Diploma of Counselling, Graduate Certificate or Graduate Diploma in Counselling, Bachelor of Counselling or Master of Counselling.

Registered nurses who specialise in mental health care provide care and manage treatment plans.

Professional Body – The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency works in partnership with the National Boards to ensure that Australia’s registered health practitioners are suitably trained, qualified and safe to practise. Public safety is their priority.

Someone who has experienced their own mental health challenges and recovery journey, and is employed to support others experiencing similar mental health conditions. The key aspect of a peer worker’s role is their personal experience with mental health issues, which they use to provide support, empathy, and insight to others going through similar challenges.

Depending on the organisation, a Mental Health Peer Worker may also be referred to as a Peer Practitioner or Peer Specialist.

Professional Body – There is no specific professional body for this role. The organisation that employs Mental Health Peer Workers will have their own standards they are required to comply with. It is however, worth noting that some organisations require a Peer Workers to complete a minimum of a Certificate IV in Mental Health Peer Work to be qualified for this role.

Someone who provides care and support to individuals with mental health issues.

Professional Body – There is no specific professional body for this role. The organisation that employs Mental Health Support Workers will have their own standards they are required to comply with. However, it is worth noting that some organisations require Mental Health Support Workers to obtain a minimum Certificate qualification.

Digital Mental Health

What is a digital mental health service?

In relation to the NSQDMH Standards, a digital mental health service is defined as a mental health, suicide prevention or alcohol and other drug service that uses technology to facilitate engagement and deliver care.

  • Digital mental health services include:
  • Services that provide information
  • Digital counselling services
  • Treatment services (including assessment, triage and referral services)
  • Peer-to-peer support services.
Digital mental health services may be delivered by:
  • Telephone (including mobile phone)
  • Videoconferences
  • Online services (such as web chats)
  • SMS
  • Mobile health applications (apps).

The quality of available services varies. This is why the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Commission) collaborated with service users, consumers, carers, families, clinicians, service providers and technical experts to develop the National Safety and Quality Digital Mental Health (NSQDMH) Standards.

The NSQDMH Standards describe the level of care that you should expect to receive from a digital mental health service. They aim to improve the quality of digital mental health services and to protect people who use these services from harm.

Click here to learn more.

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