A redesign of primary mental health care services combined with an increase in funding will deliver an additional 500 funded therapy sessions for people living in the Central Coast region over the next two years.
Facilitated by the Hunter New England Central Coast Primary Health Network (the PHN), the additional services will cover face-to-face and telehealth sessions for children, First Nations people, those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and low-income earners.
The PHN CEO, Richard Nankervis, said “In line with the objectives of the 2023-25 Mental Health Strategy, the PHN continues to move the health system towards the adoption of a person-centred stepped care approach to service delivery.”
“Changes to the allocation of mental health sessions have been determined following a comprehensive tender exercise which focused on our population health needs, equitable access, and the introduction or availability of other mental health services.”
“The tender exercise considered how to introduce mental health services which are tailored to specific cohorts, whilst offering a stepped model of care targeting the needs of the individual. Using this approach, we are able to deliver a significant increase in sessions across the entire HNECC PHN region.”
The PHN Manager of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, Leah Morgan said the PHN is working to improve access to services by modelling evidenced-based approaches.
“We recognise there is a spectrum of needs within our region, and consequently must also offer a spectrum of services. The changes we've made to the service provision, means individuals will be more likely to receive a service which meets their needs, while also making the best use of workforce and technology.”
In addition to the patient services offered through the PHN, GPs can continue to access the GP psychiatry support line for advice on the management of their patients.
The PHN funded mental health services that will be available across the region as of 1 July 2023 include:
Mental Health Services for Vulnerable People (currently known as Psychological Therapies)
The new Mental Health Services for Vulnerable People program will complement the existing mental health programs and expand the scope of the current Psychological Therapies that are delivered in Primary Care, whilst diversifying the service to better reach target populations.
Services will be targeted to give priority to the most vulnerable populations that experience financial hardship and have difficulties/barriers in accessing mental health treatment in the Primary Care sector.
Head to Health Services
The PHN’s Head to Health service provides free and immediate support for anyone living within the Hunter, New England and Central Coast regions experiencing distress or mental health concerns.
Trained professionals provide short to medium term mental health support and work with individuals to find the best services to meet their needs.
People can visit the Head to Health service or phone 1800 595 212 between 8:30 am and 5:00 pm to receive assistance. No appointment, referral, Medicare card, or Australian Citizenship is needed.
Across the region, there are three dedicated Head to Health clinics located at Tuggerah, Warner’s Bay and Cessnock.
The Telepsychiatry Service is targeted at priority population groups including women with perinatal depression, First Nations people, people living in rural and remote areas, people on low income, people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds and people with a recent suicide attempt or suicidal behaviour/ideation.
The PHN has commissioned Call to Mind to provide the service across the HNECC region. The aim is to increase access to psychiatry services for people with severe and persistent mental illness who have barriers to accessing a psychiatrist. The telehealth service is available to people that reside or work within the HNECC PHN catchment and are aged 16 years and over.
Primary Mental Health (PMH) for Children
The PHN has recently commissioned a new children’s mental health service with the aim of increasing access for vulnerable children. The paediatric service provides children up to the age of 12, with up to 12, face-to-face sessions of psychological counselling, by two providers across the Hunter, New England and Central Coast regions, Beam Health and Uniting NSW/ACT.
The service is targeted at priority population groups who have difficulty in accessing mental health treatment in the primary care sector.
Wellbeing4Kids is a free program supporting families to raise happier, healthier children. The specialist child mental health team can provide assessments and counselling for emotional, social and behavioural challenges (up to 12 sessions).
- Little Sparks
Beam health are providing free mental health supports for children under 12 years of age. Delivered by trained and experienced Psychologists and Mental Health Clinicians, the program is primarily aimed at providing access to those children who may otherwise not be able to access support due to financial hardship for up to 12 sessions.
Grief and Bereavement Counselling for Children
Provides early intervention mental health services for patients aged three to 17 years for up to 12 sessions via telehealth who are experiencing bereavement and grief/loss following the death of someone close to them.
Read more about the PHN's mental health services.