A consortium led by Banyule Community Health will deliver a new Mental Health Stepped Care Model in Melbourne’s north-east from mid-January.

The announcement follows Eastern Melbourne PHN’s (EMPHN’s) commitment of $2.5 million funding for mental health services across the continuum – for people requiring low intensity to higher levels of support – with an emphasis on recovery.

Eastern Melbourne PHN Acting CEO, Angelica Georgaklis, said the appointment follows co-design and engagement with stakeholders over more than a year to develop a stepped care model that utilises the strengths of local service providers to meet the mental health needs of our catchment.

“With an emphasis on recovery-focussed, patient-centred care, the consortium of community health providers is well placed to deliver the model,” she said.

“The model is enhanced by the consortium’s ability to offer not just mental health but other integrated and co-located services such as housing, children and family, and physical health among other services, enabling consumers to receive the right care, in the right place, at the right time.”

Banyule Community Health CEO, Mick Geary, said community health is ideally positioned to deliver on the National Mental Health Commission’s recommendations of new Mental Health Stepped Care Models that are designed to deliver the substantive reform called for by the Commission following its extensive review of a range of mental health programs and services.

“This is an exciting period of change and reform and an opportunity to provide innovative and integrated mental health services with other health and social support services to ultimately improve outcomes for people with mental health issues in our community,” he said.

“The model focusses on addressing individuals’ mental health issues, ensuring that treatment is tailored to meet the level of needs across the continuum of acuity.
“There is a focus on working in collaboration with the person’s significant others and members of the person’s care team to deliver the best possible care, aiming to reduce the stigma associated with having a mental health issue.”

Developed in line with mental health reform across Australia, the model utilises peer workers, counsellors, psychologists, social workers and mental health nurses, as well as innovative eHealth technology.

An open tender process was undertaken to commission these services. The consortium, which is led by Banyule Community Health, includes Plenty Valley Community Health, healthAbility, NEXUS Primary Health and eHealth provider Cyber Clinic and is funded until mid-2019.

Together, the consortium will provide integrated care from 10 sites throughout the north-east area which is part of EMPHN’s stage one transition to Mental Health Stepped Care.

Stage one will start in January 2018 in the cities of Whittlesea and Banyule, Shire of Nillumbik and parts of the shires of Murrindindi and Mitchell within the area EMPHN works.

The remainder of EMPHN’s catchment will transition to mental health stepped care over the coming 12 months following future tender processes.

Transition arrangements are underway for existing clients. Referrals to the model will be available via Banyule Community Health’s Mental Health Intake or EMPHN’s Referral and Access Team from late January.