Who are we?
The Mental Health Professionals Network (MHPN) establishes and supports interdisciplinary mental health networks across Australia.
These locally driven networks aim to improve consumer outcomes by promoting collaborative practice and peer support amongst clinicians and service providers who are providing treatment to people with mental health issues.
By becoming a member of an MHPN network, clinicians can:
- Expand their mental health referral networks
- Broaden their knowledge of local service providers
- Enhance their professional development opportunities
- Share the skills and expertise
MHPN has established 450 interdisciplinary community mental health networks across Australia, of which approximately 40% are located in regional, rural and remote locations.
Network members meet regularly to participate in education, clinical review, peer support, community development, collaboration and networking opportunities. Each network is coordinated by a network member with support from MHPN project officers.
Network members include:
- general practitioners
- mental health nurses
- occupational therapists
- social workers
- allied health professionals
- community workers involved in primary mental healthcare.
Online Professional Development
MHPN provides a range of online learning and networking opportunities for people working in primary mental health care.
This includes a series of regular, free webinars with panels of expert presenters participating in a facilitated case study discussion. The objective of the webinars is to demonstrate and encourage a collaborative approach to the assessment, diagnosis, treatment and support of patients with mental health issues.
MHPN webinar recordings are available to clinicians on the MHPN website for download at anytime in video or audio format.
MHPN Online is restricted to members of this website. Here members can collaborate online with members of the network they meet with, and participate in MHPN webinar program and online discussions.
A not-for-profit organisation, MHPN is funded by the Commonwealth Government Department of Health and Ageing until June 2014.
History of the MHPN initiative
Mental Health Professionals Network began operations in August 2008 to roll out collaborative workshops across Australia. The project drew on knowledge gained from an environmental scan commissioned by the Mental Health Professionals Association (MHPA) and a number of pilot workshops.
The MHPA was convened in early 2006 as a way of supporting a coordinated and collaborative forum for issues affecting key professions providing mental health care. The MHPA was engaged by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing to develop a resource package for mental health professionals. The MHPA provided the support required to facilitate use of the new and existing mental health Medicare items and funding in an appropriate, effective and efficient manner.
The National Action Plan and Better Access
In July 2006, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) endorsed a National Action Plan on Mental Health which provides a strategic framework emphasising coordination and collaboration between government, private and non-government providers.
Under the Plan, the Australian Government is providing $1.9 billion over 5 years to implement initiatives to improve services for people with a mental health disorder, their families and carers.
The Better Access to Psychiatrists, Psychologists and General Practitioners through the Medicare Benefits Schedule (Better Access) Initiative aims to support increased access to mental health services through the introduction of Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) items that allow coordinated and more affordable mental health care for the community. These new MBS funded services promote a collaborative approach to mental health care with GPs encouraged to liaise with psychiatrists, paediatricians and allied mental health professionals to increase the availability of care.
Six pilot workshops were held in a mix of metropolitan and rural regions and involved over 80 participants from a range of mental health professions. These workshops were consistently rated as valuable by participants, and established a basis for the rollout of the subsequent Mental Health Professionals Network workshops.
The benefits that workshop participants cited included:
- better understanding of the respective mental health professions
- improved access to local resources
- more up-to-date clinical knowledge
- the anticipated ability to make more efficient and appropriate referrals.
These benefits were seen as likely to improve outcomes for clients by generating greater collegial support and networks which would in turn have additional flow-on effects.
From February 2009, MHPN ran 1,169 workshops across Australia. During this time MHPN engaged with more than 20,000 clinicians during the rollout of workshops, which were attended by over 15,000 people working in primary mental health.