The political environment is the state, government
and its institutions and legislations and the public and private
stakeholders who operate and interact with or influence that system.
The stability of the political environment and government will
impact on the prioritisation of mental health policy in relation
to other policies, the funding available to mental health and
the time frames in which policies and programmes can be realized.
Political environment also includes the political culture i.e.
"widely held views, beliefs and attitudes concerning what governments
should try to do and how they should operate and the relationship
between the citizen and the government." (18)
Political culture includes population participation and involvement
in the electoral process and the level of government acceptance
by the population. This is of particular importance in countries
where democratic processes are emerging. (First Meeting of the
Latin America and Caribbean Region, Consortium for Mental Health
Policy and Services, Chile Santiago, 8-10, Nov, 2000; First Meeting
of the Eastern European Region, Consortium for Mental Health Policy
and Services, Prague, Czech Republic, 1-4, Nov, 2000) The political
process is extremely important in policy development, implementation
and reform. "Policy reform is a profoundly political process.
Politics affects the origins, the formulation and the implementation
of public policy, especially when significant changes are involved…Policy
reform is inevitably political because it seeks to change who
gets valued goods in society." (19,20)
While policy makers may not formally address the political environment
in a mental health policy it is important that the political environment
in which a mental health policy is to be formulated and implemented
is carefully considered if policy implementation and reform are
to be successful.