Capacity building for mental health services: methodology and lessons learned from the Partners in Recovery initiative

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Background: The Partners in Recovery (PIR) program was implemented by the Australian Government Department of Health. Its overriding aim was to improve the coordination of services for people with severe and persistent mental illness, and who have complex needs that are not being met. The PIR capacity-building project (CBP) was funded to provide capacity building activities to the nationwide network of consortia that were set up in 2013 to deliver PIR over a 3-year period. The purpose of this paper is to describe the design and findings from an evaluation of the PIR CBP. 

Methods: The evaluation involved collecting feedback from consenting PIR staff via an online survey and follow-up semi-structured interviews. CBP activities included: state and national meetings; a web portal; teleconferences; webinars; a support facilitator mentor program; and tailored support from the CBP team. 

Results: The CBP made a positive contribution to the implementation and delivery of PIR. Staff highly valued activities that employed face-to-face interaction or provided informative knowledge exchange, and were appreciative of CBP staff being responsive and adaptable to their needs. 

Conclusions: From this evaluation, we recommend the following: identify relevant functions (e.g. prioritise networking), select the right mode of delivery (e.g. establish an online presence) and abide by key principles (e.g. be responsive to staff needs). This information is informing the mental health workforce capacity building activities that our team is currently undertaking.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberPY23003
Number of pages7
JournalAustralian Journal of Primary Health
Issue number1
Early online date12 Sept 2023
Publication statusPublished - 12 Sept 2023


  • capacity building
  • evaluation
  • implementation
  • knowledge exchange
  • mental health
  • mixed-methods
  • Partners in Recovery
  • workforce


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