The Hunter, New England and Central Coast Primary Health Network (The PHN) has commissioned a new children’s mental health service with the aim of increasing access for vulnerable children.
The paediatric service will provide 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 including:
- People who are under financial hardship and less able to pay fees to access private mental health services, and are unable to access Medicare subsidised mental health services.
- Children who have parents with a severe mental illness.
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
- People of Cultural and Linguistically Diverse backgrounds.
- Individuals who have self- harmed, attempted suicide or who have suicidal ideation, and can be appropriately managed in the primary health care setting, and
- Children living in rural and remote areas.
The PHN CEO, Richard Nankervis said the service will mean that children who need to access mental health services would find it easier to do so. “Our annual needs assessment identified a gap within mental health services, particularly for children in priority groups. The PHN has responded through the commissioning of this new service which complements our existing range, including headspace and Head to Health among many others.”
Head of Uniting Recovery, Chantal Nagib said Uniting NSW/ACT is excited to be delivering the mental health services directly to children and their families. “We are committed to intervening as early as possible to minimise the impact that mental health concerns can have on a child’s life.”
The PHN Manager of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, Leah Morgan said The PHN is working to improve access to services by removing barriers. “There are many vulnerable groups within our community who are not receiving mental health support due to barriers including cost and availability. These services will be bulk billed to overcome financial barriers and will prioritise vulnerable patients to ensure they receive the treatment they need.”
In addition to this new service, GPs are still able to access the GP psychiatry support line for advice on the management of their patients.”
The new service will be piloted until 30 June 2023 and there will be no out of pocket expenses for the patient. The funding has been provided utilising flood recovery funding from the NSW State Government.
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