NSW GOVERNMENT’S $115M COMMITMENT TO MENTAL HEALTH DELIVERS RESULTS FOR COUNTRY COMMUNITIES
Minister for Mental Health Jai Rowell today announced two major new initiatives funded under the NSW Government’s recent $115 million investment in mental health, which will provide better access to emergency mental health care.
Joined today at Lismore Mental Health Services by Member for Lismore Thomas George and Nationals candidate for Ballina Kris Beavis, Mr Rowell detailed how the pioneering use of video-conferencing facilities in communities throughout North-Eastern NSW would provide rapid assessment and triage of people with urgent mental health needs.
“Our leading mental health clinicians from the Northern NSW, Mid North Coast and Hunter New England Local Health Districts have banded together to introduce the use of tele-conferencing facilities to provide remote assessment of mental health patients,” Mr Rowell said.
“This innovative use of technology will vastly improve access to mental health expertise for people living in rural and remotes areas, ensuring they are able to receive the treatment they need in a more timely fashion.
“Through $3.5 million in NSW Government funding over two years, we’ve established a 24/7 mental health resource hub staffed by mental health professionals, servicing communities from Murwillumbah to Maitland to Moree, and everywhere in between.”
Clinicians will use video conferencing technology to deliver services remotely that will include:
- Rapid mental health assessments of people presenting to smaller rural and remote hospitals;
- Consultation and advice to staff working at smaller hospitals to manage the care of people presenting with mental health problems locally where this is safe and appropriate;
- Support in managing the care of patients with challenging behaviours;
- Coordination of transport and admission where admission to a mental health inpatient unit is necessary;
- Education, training and mental health support to generalist health staff across the LHDs in managing mental health presentations.
Mr George welcomed the initiative, saying it would provide rapid and safe mental health assessments and advice on the most appropriate care for people with mental health problems who present to smaller rural and remote hospital Emergency Departments.
“The introduction of ‘tele-health’ will reduce unnecessary long distance transportation of patients, and will provide high quality consultation and support to staff working in rural and remote facilities,” Mr George said.
Mr Beavis said the announcement would be welcomed by the Ballina Electorate, saying it would provide those in remote communities timely access to specialist assessment.
“This measure will also enhance the capacity of staff working in smaller rural hospitals to support the provision of care they provide to people presenting locally, where this is safe and appropriate,” Mr Beavis said.
Mr Rowell also announced a further $125,000 in tele-health training to be delivered this financial year, aimed at optimising the use of tele-health technology throughout public mental health services.
“By increasing the capability of our workforce to use this innovative technology, we will help people in rural and remote communities across NSW access the expertise and care they need in a timely and convenient way,” Mr Rowell said.
“The NSW Government is committed to strengthening mental health care in NSW and both these initiatives will play an important role in delivering a more responsive mental health system for those in country communities.”