Priority 1: Improving the community-based mental health response

NSW has relied heavily on hospitals to support people with persistent or acute mental illness. While there will always be an essential role for hospitals to care for people when they are experiencing a crisis, research evidence clearly shows people recover better when they are supported with appropriate and adequate services in their own homes and communities.

This is a 2015-18 priority because

  • Many people with severe mental illness – some of the most vulnerable in our community – continue to experience extreme distress as a consequence of being separated from their families, friends, work and regular activities. As a matter of justice, we need urgently to do better by them.
  • By investing more strongly in community-based mental health services, we will be able to make a positive difference in the lives of more people, while taking the pressure off hospitals. This will make it more likely that people experiencing an acute episode of mental illness can find a hospital bed when they need it.

2015-2017 Projects

NSW NDIS and Mental Health Analysis Partnership Project

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) offers a unique opportunity to extend person-centred support to people with significant and permanent disability. The Commission began work in 2013 with the Mental Health Coordinating Council at the NSW NDIS pilot site in the Hunter region to learn how the NDIS applies to people with psychosocial disability resulting from mental illness, and to ensure their needs are prominently considered as the NSW and national rollouts take shape. This work led to the establishment of a Community of Practice with regular forums where public sector agencies, community-managed organisations, consumers and carers share their experiences and hear from key organisations including the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) and Hunter New England Local Health District. MHCC developed a report including findings and recommendations to improve outcomes for people affected by mental health issues. This report has informed the Commission’s advice to Government and NDIA with a view to refining the operation of the program in NSW. While this project finished on 30 June 2016, the Commission continues to liaise with the NDIA and relevant state agencies in relation to the NDIS roll-out and its impact on support for people with psychosocial disability.

Living Well Actions 4.4.1 and 5.1.2

Community visits and sector reviews

Every year, the Commission conducts a series of visits to communities across NSW to explore the capacity of Government and community-managed organisations to respond appropriately to people’s mental health needs in or close to their own home. These visits are intended to enhance the Commission’s understanding of any barriers to wider implementation of community-based support. They are also an opportunity to identify and highlight programs and projects that successfully embody community-based support and recovery values, which may serve as models for reform in other regions. Communities visited in 2016-17 include Port Stephens, Clarence Valley and Orange.

Living Well Action 5.1.1

The Integrated Mental Health Atlas of Far West New South Wales

In 2014-15 the Commission contracted the University of Sydney to map all services for people experiencing mental ill health and their families in Far West NSW. The project classified services according to their main care structure or activity, as well as their level of availability and utilisation. It was NSW’s first inventory of available mental health services, and it enables policymakers and service planners to derive benchmarks and draw comparisons between Far West NSW and other regions, helping to ensure future services and resources are allocated where they are most needed. The Atlas has been utilised by the Far West Local Health District and Western NSW Primary Health Network, and the pioneering concept has been adopted by other regions in NSW and Australia, including in metropolitan Sydney which will be fully mapped by July 2017.

Living Well Action 5.1.1

NSW Synergy Pilot: an Integrated eMental Health Ecosystem

The Commission partnered with the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre to pilot an integrated system of online services, apps and tools to improve the mental health and wellbeing of young people. Called Synergy, the online ecosystem aimed to enable young people to connect with digital data about them captured through different apps and services, and use this information to manage their own wellbeing and mental health. In this way the project aimed to provide a stepped model of care, promote self-agency and reduce stigma.
The pilot engaged young people aged 16 to 25 in three NSW communities (Far West, Western Sydney and Central Coast) in a participatory design process and 90 day trial of the system. It also customised and integrated three key e-mental health tools and services – ReachOut Next Steps, Happiness Central and Mental Health e-Clinic – into the system, and developed and delivered an education and training program to promote the use of technology and the uptake of the e-mental health ecosystem in professional practice.
The trial concluded in 2016. The Brain and Mind Centre at the University of Sydney will use the findings in its ongoing work to research and build effective online ecosystems for mental health.

Living Well Actions 8.4.1 and 8.4.3

Last updated: 19 June 2017

Share this