A NEW mental health program that began today will provide people who have severe, long term mental illness with a single person to advocate, negotiate and coordinate different services for them.
ACT Medicare Local (ACTML) is leading a group of mental health, community and consumer peak bodies to support Canberra’s most vulnerable community members who “have fallen through the cracks for decades”, according to ACTML chair Dr Rashmi Sharma.
“As a GP, I’ve had patients living with severe and persistent mental illness who have many complex needs.They tell me they’ve ‘burnt their bridges’ with friends and family, have lost their job, are in short-term accommodation, and really need someone to help them get the mix of services they need to get on the road to recovery,” Ms Sharma says.
“Participants will work with a dedicated Support Facilitator who will advocate and negotiate on their behalf to ensure the wrap-around-services they need can be coordinated to meet their individual needs,” she explains.
“Evidence shows our health is determined by more than just health care. This program will allow us to bring together services across all local sectors in addition to health, such as housing, education and employment, to tailor the flexible support required by each of these vulnerable Canberrans and their carers.”
Also this month, ACTML became the first Medicare Local in the country to deliver the NewAccess service, which gives Canberrans with mild-to-moderate depression or anxiety access to free low-intensity mental health support from trained coaches, funded by beyondblue and Movember.
“NewAccess will point you in the right direction, set practical goals and help you get yourself back on track,” says Dr Sharma. ”People can call the program direct and arrange for support by either meeting their Access Coach in person, over the phone. As it’s a new program we have no waiting lists so people can quickly receive assistance. People can also be referred through traditional avenues by their GP, allied health professional, family member and community services.”
Dr Sharma also says ACT Medicare Local is working on ways to overcome barriers to accessing mental health services like cost and the stigma associated with mental illness.
“With our partners, through a suite of mental health services, we’re helping more Canberrans access appropriate help for their mental health issue, whether it be for mild depression and anxiety, through to severe and persistent mental illness. It’s all about ensuring that people with mental illness – no matter how severe – have access to the services they need and are supported to lead a contributing life.”
More information on services for severe and ongoing mental illness at actml.com.au/programs/partners-in-recovery
For more information on the free beyondblue NewAccess program for mild-to-moderate depression or anxiety, call 02 6287 8066 or go to beyondblue.org.au/newaccesscoach