Men­tal health re­ceives Govt fund­ing boost

Pilbara News - - News - Pe­ter de Krui­jff and Court­ney Fowler

Youth men­tal health is­sues in the Pil­bara will be tack­led by a new pro­gram that will re­ceive al­most $1 mil­lion in an­nual fund­ing.

WA Coun­try Health Ser­vice will re­ceive $900,000 to pro­vide ac­cess for 16 to 24-year-olds to spe­cial­ist men­tal health teams in­clud­ing con­sul­tant psy­chi­a­trists in two Pil­bara towns.

WACHS act­ing op­er­a­tions man­ager John Brear­ley said the model was fairly early in its in­cep­tion but the in­ten­tion was to have three to four ded­i­cated men­tal health spe­cial­ists in the re­gion across two towns which were yet to be iden­ti­fied.

“We will use video-con­fer­enc­ing tech­nol­ogy across the re­gion, so if the spe­cial­ists have any young peo­ple they are con­cerned about, they can be as­sessed at any point in time.”

About three-quar­ters of all se­vere men­tal ill­ness starts be­fore the age of 24 and sui­cide ac­counts for al­most a quar­ter of all deaths in the 20-24 age group.

The Gov­ern­ment has al­ready planned a sub-acute ser­vice in Kar­ratha, which is ex­pected to be op­er­a­tional by 2017.

Min­is­ter for Men­tal Health He­len Mor­ton said the Men­tal Health Com­mis­sion had iden­ti­fied a pos­si­ble site for the cen­tre and de­sign plan­ning and con­struc­tion work would hap­pen in 2016.

“Once a ser­vice provider is ap­pointed to op­er­ate the ser­vice, they will be re­spon­si­ble for staffing ar­range­ments to pro­vide an ap­pro­pri­ate mix of clin­i­cal and psy­choso­cial sup­ports in a res­i­den­tial­style set­ting,” she said. Mrs Mor­ton said the ser­vice was ex­pected to pro­vide care for stays as short as 14 days up to long-term stays of 12 months, de­pend­ing on pa­tient needs.

“On this ba­sis, if the av­er­age length of stay is 30 days, a six-bed sub­a­cute ser­vice could pro­vide care for up to 73 peo­ple a year,” she said.

The de­liv­ery of a men­tal health­care fa­cil­ity and youth men­tal health ser­vice in the Pil­bara could not come sooner, with an in­creased de­mand for the re­gion’s hospi­tal emer­gency wards.

Fig­ures ob­tained by shadow min­is­ter for men­tal health Stephen Daw­son re­vealed how many men­tal health pa­tients had been held in emer­gency de­part­ments while they waited for a men­tal health bed.

At Nickol Bay Hospi­tal in Kar­ratha, the num­ber has in­creased from 327 in 2010-11 to 706 in 2014-15.

The Hed­land Health Cam­pus’ fig­ures jumped from 461 to 891 in the same pe­riod while New­man Hospi­tal’s went from 129 to 192.

Only a hand­ful of pa­tients in the Pil­bara stayed in ED longer than 24 hours, but Mr Daw­son said the rise in the fig­ures was con­cern­ing.

“When some­one is deal­ing with a men­tal health is­sue or ill­ness, it is dif­fer­ent to a bro­ken arm or leg,” he said.

“Your anx­i­ety lev­els can be higher so be­ing in an ED ... is not where you want to be.”

The clos­est au­tho­rised acute care men­tal health fa­cil­ity to Kar­ratha is the Broome Men­tal Health Unit.

When it doesn’t have any spare beds, pa­tients are trans­ported to the metro area.

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