Mental health services conceptualised as complex adaptive systems: what can be learned?

Louise A. Ellis*, Kate Churruca, Jeffrey Braithwaite

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/opinionpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
8 Downloads (Pure)


Despite many attempts at promoting systems integration, seamless care, and partnerships among service providers and users, mental health services internationally continue to be fragmented and piecemeal. We exploit recent ideas from complexity science to conceptualise mental health services as complex adaptive systems (CASs). The core features of CASs are described and Australia's headspace initiative is used as an example of the kinds of problems currently being faced. We argue that adopting a CAS lens can transform services, creating more connected care for service users with mental health conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number43
Pages (from-to)1-5
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Journal of Mental Health Systems
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jun 2017

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2017. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • Australia
  • Complex adaptive systems
  • Mental health services

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