28 July 2016

Young people in Canberra who experience or are at risk of developing a severe mental illness will be able to access new evidence based multidisciplinary specialist services which will enhance existing services.  These services will be commissioned through Capital Health Network (CHN), the ACT’s primary health network.

Federal Minister for Health Sussan Ley announced that CHN would be one of ten primary health networks across the country to trial innovative approaches in mental health services.  CHN will lead the development of enhanced models of care in the ACT.                                                                                                    

CHN Chief Executive Gaylene Coulton said this is an exciting opportunity to improve the integrated model of mental health care to meet the needs of local vulnerable people in the ACT.

“Severe mental illness can cause serious disruption to development and life.  We know that if we can provide early intervention to young people who are at risk of developing severe mental illness we can reduce the likelihood or severity of future episodes.  We will be co-developing new service models to ensure young people can access the support they need,” said Gaylene Coulton, CHN Chief Executive.

“For example if a 15 year old with an eating disorder was referred by their GP into an early intervention service focused on treating mild symptoms of a mental health condition, they could be stepped up into a more intensive service providing wraparound specialist care to meet their specific needs.  This may include psychological interventions and input from a Dietitian and Paediatrician,” said Ms Coulton.

CHN has a critical role in the Australian Government’s reform of the mental health system.  CHN will act as the key regional facilitator for planning primary mental health programs, funding services and developing integrated care pathways.

In addition to trialing innovative approaches in primary mental health care, Gaylene Coulton said CHN is working collaboratively with key stakeholders including GPs, Clinicians, Consumers and ACT Health to co-design an integrated primary mental health care model for the ACT, to provide greater flexibility for people experiencing mental ill health to access services that will best meet their changing needs.

“This includes low to high intensity psychological interventions and care coordination within a stepped care model.  This will ensure continuity of care for existing mental health clients.  We’re also working with ACT Health to develop a joint regional mental health plan,” said Ms Coulton.

Capital Health Network is the ACT’s primary health care network supporting health professionals to improve the coordination of care so that patients receive the right care in the right place at the right time.