Wed. Apr 17th, 2024

The final hearing for the mental health inquiry has heard that the current mental health care system is failing domestic and family violence survivors and how emergency departments are used as a catch all when there is nowhere else for people to go. 

Representatives from HealthWISE New England North West gave evidence this week at the NSW parliamentary inquiry into outpatient and community mental health care. 

HealthWISE is a ‘for purpose’ (not for profit), registered charity delivering primary care programs and clinical services across the New England and North West regions of New South Wales. 

Services include Aboriginal health, allied health, mental health, primary health and nursing. 

“HealthWISE supports care at every stage of life, this support addresses physical and mental health, including perinatal health.” said Ms Louise Ingall, Manager of Strategy Research and Engagement at HealthWISE. 

“Across 2022/2023, our team delivered 15,000 mental health consultations.” 

“We focus on priority cohorts, including first nations people, newly arrived people- especially Ezidi people in the community of Armidale and since 2019 we have partnered to deliver primary mental health access, referral intake and allocation of mental health services in our region.” 

“In addition to these programs we deliver community based-suicide prevention services on behalf of the NSW Government.” 

HealthWISE’s written submission for this enquiry, lodged September 2023, contains the reflections from clinicians and lived experience workers. 

“Our teams understand that interelationships between mental health and other streams, including allied health and holistic care, and most importantly the value of social connectedness.” said Ms Louise Ingall. 

“If an outcome of this enquiry is for the capacity for mental health providers to deliver the care which was inclusive is social prescribing and address the social determinates of health within their contracts, we believe, this would positive impact recovery in our community.” 

“The current mental health funding environment favours large national providers and digital health solutions rather than place-based experienced inter-disciplinary teams, like ours.” 

Anne Galloway, Mental Health Manager at HealthWISE joined Ms Ingall on the panel alongside representatives from Bega Valley Eurobodalla Suicide Prevention Collaborative and Western Sydney Health Alliance, all providing evidence from diverse regions. 

Enquiry Evidence Review 

Dr Amanda Cohn, the Inquiry’s Chair and NSW Greens spokesperson for Health including Mental Health, reflected on the importance of today’s evidence for the inquiry when it considers how mental health care can be improved across NSW. 

“Trauma-sensitive care is crucial for people who have experienced chronic and complex trauma, but our current system isn’t resourced to meet that need.” 

“Emergency departments should be a place people can go when they need immediate care, but right now they’re being used as a last resort because there is nowhere else for people to go when they’re mentally unwell,” Dr Cohn said. 

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