A new program aims to service people with severe and complex mental health issues in the central west.
Funded by the Western NSW Primary Health Network, the RFDS Mental Health Nurse Support Service will bring together the RFDS SE mental health team and local GPs.
The Royal Flying Doctor Service South Eastern Section is launching the partnership in Dubbo.
Dr Ai-vee Chua is the first Dubbo GP to start working on the program.
“The benefit of partnering with the RFDS SE is greater collaboration and communication between the people managing the mental health of the patient,” Dr Ai-vee Chua said.
“This new partnership program is part of the ongoing RFDS SE strategy to reduce the gap in health and wellness between those living in remote, rural and regional areas and those in the cities.”
The RFDS SE have also established an Alcohol and Other Drugs partnership with Lyndon, which operates out of Dubbo, Cobar and Broken Hill, along with other mental health clinicians.
“There are more programs in the pipeline,” Dr Ai-vee Chua said.
“This partnership is essential because GPs often don’t have the specific resourcesto deal with such cases,” said Laurinne Campbell, Clinical Nurse Specialist in the RFDS SE’s mental health team.
“Studies also indicate that people living with mental illness are more likely to die early due to other physical health issues,their life expectancy being up to 30 per cent shorter,” Ms Campbell said.
“Because there are few specialist facilities outside of the big cities,many end up in local hospitals and in-patient settings. The partnership with the GPs is about helping clients to stay well so they can participate in and contribute to their communities and reducing hospital admissions.”
The program will include: evidence-based therapeutic interventions, monitoring and comprehensive review of their mental and physical state, including biochemistry reviews, and regular case reviews with their GPs.
Individual treatment plans will be tailored to the needs of each client who will be able to remain connected to their family and local community, which will aid their recovery.
The RFDS SE’s Mental Health team has established professional relationships with other service providers.
These include the Western New South Wales Local Health District (WNSW LHD) Community Mental Health Team, Marathon Health’s Strong Minds Mental Health Service for clients with mild to moderate illness and local specialised psychiatry services such as the State Wide Outreach Perinatal Service (SWOPS).
To get into the RFDS Mental Health Nurse Support Service program the client will need to be referred to the program by a Dubbo-based GP, have a diagnosable mental illness, be prepared to participate in therapeutic recommendations and review and not require an acute response.
A referral will result in a response within 48 hours, after which the client will receive a comprehensive mental health assessment.
“This program is aimed at people within the Dubbo catchment area and in order to continue to receive its benefits the client must reside within a two-hour drive of Dubbo and remain registered with their GP,” said Ms Campbell said.