Mental health services and the Country Health Strategy

Service delivery system

Country Health SA has implemented local clinical networks for mental health services in geographically defined areas. These clinical networks provide integrated services for that population, including strong partnerships with general practitioners and non-government organisations. Collectively these networks are linked to form a comprehensive mental health service clinical network.

Services accessed within or through the local clinical networks for mental health services include tertiary, secondary and primary mental health care. This approach enables services to the community to be optimised and support better solutions to key issues around workforce skills and shortages, safety and quality, and connection with other sectors and services involved in the provision of mental health care.

Key stakeholders include general practitioners, local hospitals, non-government organisations providing services to shared consumers, the country health South Australia psychiatry workforce, and rural and remote mental health services including Aboriginal mental health and a 24/7 distance consultation service.

Specialist inpatient care in country

As of mid-2014, both Whyalla and the Riverland (Berri) hospitals have opened Integrated Mental Health Inpatient Units (IMHIUs).These units are open facilities, each consisting of six fully self-contained bedrooms and spacious multipurpose living/recreational areas. The South East IMHIU at Mt Gambier hospital is currently under development, scheduled for operation in April 2015. In addition, all country hospitals will continue to provide low complexity mental health admissions for voluntary consumers.

Specialist acute care at the IMHIUs may be voluntary with a negotiated length of stay or may include a period of time under an Inpatient Treatment Order as set out in the Mental Health Act 2009.The units are not intended to replace all consumer transfers to metropolitan Adelaide but will play a vital role in supporting community-based mental health care.

The IMHIUs are designed to meet acute care needs of country consumers, strengthening existing services and enabling greater equity of access for rural South Australians. A key benefit of these new facilities will be a reduced need to travel to Adelaide, allowing consumers to stay closer to home and to their local support networks whilst receiving specialist, inpatient mental health care.

For more information see the Country Health Services page.

Community Mental Health Rehabilitation Services in country

Community Mental Health Rehabilitation Services (CMHRS) in Whyalla and Mount Gambier have been operating since mid-2014. They form part of the major reforms underway to create a stepped model of mental health care in country South Australia.

The CMHRS supports people to live in their community and develop the skills they need to live independently. The service offers accommodation with 24/7 support and an active, goal-focused rehabilitation program. The CMHRS provides country South Australians with the option to remain closer to their support network while receiving this specialised support.

For more information see the Country Health Services page.

Youth Mental Health Services

In November 2014, a new state-wide model providing youth-friendly services commenced for young people (16 – 24 years) and their families. In Country Health SA., the Youth Mental Health Service (YMHS) provides a clinical and consultation service to Community Mental Health Teams and local communities, whilst working collaboratively with other youth service partners.The aim is to ensure that “Every contact strengthens a young person’s wellbeing, mental fitness and engagement with life.”

Through better engaging young people and working with them to develop the skills and supports they need to manage mental health distress, the YMHS aims to support young people to enjoy their best possible health outcomes.

For more information see the Mental Health Services page.

Nurse practitioners (and candidates)

Mental health nurse practitioners were identified in the Social Inclusion Board’s Stepping Up Report as a strategy for improving access to care for those people living in country South Australia who are most in need.

This strategy saw the establishment of the Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Program in country South Australia in early 2009. In total Country health employed eight Nurse Practitioner Candidates.Five have since fully completed their training and are now credentialed as Nurse Practitioners.

Aboriginal mental health and wellbeing

SA Health is working hard to strengthen capacity and implement integrated approaches to improve the social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal people across the system, including implementing the Flinders Closing the Gap Program in several locations. All inpatient units have been developed to provide therapeutic and culturally suitable environments for Aboriginal people.

Country hospitals and health services work to meet the social and emotional wellbeing needs of Aboriginal people, particularly those living with severe mental illness and chronic substance use.This is achieved by improving access and equity of outcome in the priority areas of depression, grief and trauma, self-harm and suicide, substance abuse and domestic violence.

Consumer and carer participation in services

Meaningful engagement and participation by consumer and carers with mental health services is facilitated by the ‘Experts by Experience’ Initiative.

Originally engaged through direct feedback submitted at a consumer-carer forum, the Experts by Experience Initiative recognises the expertise held by consumers and carers who live with mental illness and aims to use this knowledge to inform and enhance the provision of consumer and carer-centred mental health services through capacity building, engagement and proactive communication.

Workers with lived experience are also employed in our new services in Whyalla, Riverland and the South East.

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