More than 90,000 Tasmanians are currently living with a common mental health-related condition such as depression, anxiety or a substance use disorder, and a further 125,000 are at risk of developing a mental health condition.
The Australian Government is also funding new Head to Health services in Burnie, Devonport and outer Hobart – and we are leading this work.
Like the existing Launceston centre, the new services will improve access to mental health and related support services, connect care, and reduce demand on hospital emergency departments.
They will be a welcoming ‘no wrong door’ entry point for adults in distress or crisis who need immediate support, as well as family and friends needing information and advice.
There will be no charge, and appointments won’t be needed.
They will complement – rather than replace or duplicate – services already provided in the community, and will connect people with other local services for ongoing care.
Primary Health Tasmania has undertaken local consultation to help shape services to ensure they meet local needs, and we are now preparing to commission a service provider or providers to implement and operate the new services.
The timing of service commencement will depend on the ability to engage appropriate providers, identify suitable premises, and employ the required workforce.
Establishing new headspace services
Primary Heath Tasmania is overseeing the establishment of two new headspace services for Tasmania – a new headspace centre on Hobart’s eastern shore and a statewide early psychosis youth service.
When we talk about psychosocial support, we’re talking about programs and activities designed to help people with a severe mental illness increase their functioning in day-to-day life.
Primary Health Tasmania has commissioned the delivery of psychosocial support services in Tasmania. We are also working with stakeholders to identify and address barriers faced by people with mental illness when testing for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
A new mental health assessment and referral system is being developed to make it easier for Tasmanians to find the support they need.
When the Central Intake and Referral Service (CIRS) is fully functional, there will be a single entry point for all Tasmanians needing mental health support, plus their family and friends. This single entry point will be the Head to Health Phone Service.
GPs and other health professionals will also be able to use the CIRS for assistance in connecting their patients to appropriate care and support.
The intake team will use the mental health Initial Assessment and Referral (IAR) decision support tool (see below) to ensure people are matched to the care that most suits their needs at the time.
Development of the CIRS is being led by the Tasmanian Department of Health, with input from Primary Health Tasmania.
More information about the CIRS is available here.
Initial Assessment and Referral (IAR) tool
Primary Health Tasmania is implementing the mental health Initial Assessment and Referral (IAR) digital decision support tool, which aims to standardise the assessment of people presenting with mental health conditions to ensure they’re matched to the care that most suits their needs at the time.
The IAR tool draws on evidence-based Australian Government guidance that aims to make it easier for clinicians to recommend the most appropriate level of care for a person seeking mental health support.
Tasmanian clinicians can access free training on IAR and use of the IAR tool to match a person’s initial mental health assessment scores to the most appropriate level of care, helping to inform the referral process.
Tasmania is the first state to adopt the National Communications Charter — a unifying resource for mental health, suicide prevention, government, business, and community organisations. On a local level, the Tasmanian Communications Charter champions a safe and stigma-free approach to talking about suicide that is consistent across various branches of the community.
Primary Health Tasmania is signatory to the Tasmanian Communications Charter.
eMental health refers to the use of the web and other communication technologies to provide mental health services and support, such as online support groups, podcasts and apps.
The eMHPrac – e-mental health in practice – project is an Australian Government initiative that aims to raise practitioner awareness and knowledge of digital mental health by providing training and support.
Head to Health also provides comprehensive information and collated resources for health professionals and consumers alike.
National Suicide Prevention Trial
Tasmania was one of 12 sites around the country that took part in the Australian Government-funded trial, which aimed to test how a more coordinated approach can help local communities reduce the rate of suicide attempts and deaths by suicide.
Primary Health Tasmania, along with the Tasmanian Department of Health and the Tasmanian Health Service, has partnered with the Mental Health Council of Tasmania, the National Disability Insurance Agency, Flourish and Mental Health Families and Friends Tasmania to develop a new approach to mental health service planning and delivery.
The result is Rethink 2020, which comes five years after the Tasmanian Government published its plan to improve mental health outcomes for all Tasmanians: Rethink Mental Health Better Mental Health and Wellbeing – A Long-Term Plan for Mental Health in Tasmania 2015-25.
Rethink 2020 takes stock of key milestones achieved so far – such as progress towards mental health integration hubs, improved youth mental health support in the north west, and the launch of a mental health peer workforce strategy – while also elevating new areas of focus as key mental health priorities for the state.