COLLABORATION: Jim Booth, Jannelle Brandley, Scott Sears and Sarah McFarlane-Eagle at the forum in Armidale.
PEOPLE who have traditionally fallen through the cracks of the mental health system are now being guided, hand-in-hand, thanks to an innovative collaboration that’s working its socks off.
About 120 people from various organisations across the New England attended a forum in Armidale this week, with its main topic of discussion revolving around the three-year-old Partners in Recovery (PIR) program.
RichmondPRA New England regional manager Jim Booth said two years into the PIR program, it was time to look at the next step, what had been done successfully, what had worked and how to build on that success for the year ahead.
PIR was designed to better support people with severe and persistent mental illness and complex needs, as well as their carers and families, by getting multiple sectors, services and supports they may come into contact with (and could benefit from) to work in a more collaborative, co-ordinated and integrated way.
This holistic approach has been working well, with more than 300 referrals to the program in the past two years and many more predicted in future, RichmondPRA regional manager Jim Booth said.
“Previously, if someone had a mental health issue and needed assistance, they had to navigate the way themselves to medical, counselling and other appointments, and many found it very difficult.
“When you have severe mental health issues, simply getting out of bed of a morning can take a huge effort, let alone arranging transport and medical appointments.”
Mr Booth said the highlight of the conference was revealing the 300 referrals to PIR since its inception, with all indications there would be even more moving forward.
“The real value of PIR is if you have a mental health issue, it doesn’t matter who you go to first, as you will be sent on a hand-held recovery journey,” Mr Booth said.
“Now, everyone’s talking to each other and people don’t slip through the cracks any more.”
Ten key areas have been identified as the types of support a person with a mental health issue might require.
“The particular focus on tailoring niche programs is one of the strengths of this new collaborative effort,” Mr Booth said.
“This was very much an inventive program when the federal government created it three years ago.
“It came from people with mental health issues, their families and those who care for them pushing the government very hard to get away from the traditional models, which had been either too clinical, or bound to ‘silos’ where people don’t want to share information or knowledge.
“What we’re seeing now is a system of stepping stones, where it’s easy for a person with a mental health issue to step from one service to another, or have services around them to meet the needs they have at that time – so they’re not constantly trying to navigate this complex road themselves.”
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