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Former ACCC chief to head new mental health body
Professor Allan Fels AO is better known for his long and distinguished stewardship of the corporate watchdog, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
But the newly appointed chairman of Australia’s first National Mental Health Commission has a very personal acquaintance with mental illness.
A story in The Australian in October reported his elder daughter underwent her first psychotic episode at 25 and was later diagnosed with schizophrenia, leading to 15 years of treatment for the ‘very severe mental illness.’
The report quoted Prof Fels AO: ‘I have become very aware of the difficult life of people with mental illnesses and the quality of life they have.
‘And severe mental illness has a devastating effect on family, made worse by the comparatively poor level of service available since the closure of the asylums in the 1980s and 1990s.’
Announcing its foundation in the budget, the Federal Government said it had allocated $32 million over five years to set up the commission in the Prime Minister's portfolio.
The announcement said the commission ‘will provide leadership, drive a more transparent and accountable mental health system, and give mental health national prominence.
‘The core function of the Commission will be to monitor, assess and report on how the system is performing and its impact on consumer and carer outcomes. It will also provide a strong and consolidated consumer voice, which will contribute to more responsive and accountable policy and program directions within the sector.
‘The Commission's first task will be to produce a National Report Card on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention in 2012 — delivering on a 2010 Government election commitment.’
New MHPN Online calendar
You may have noticed work in progress on the online calendar lately. The new and improved calendar is now full of upcoming network meetings so check it out for a meeting in your area. Things you can do:
- look up a meeting location in Google maps
- search three months ahead, by state or network meeting group
- display meetings in a list or in a calendar.
RSVP the listed contact to attend a meeting. And if you’d like to be added to the network, contact us.
Benefits of belonging to the network
Contribute, influence and improve your local mental health landscape by joining your interdisciplinary network and benefit through:
- a collaborative care approach to mental health treatment local collegial support
- the strengthening of professional relationships between local practitioners and services
- new opportunities for ongoing professional development.
We hope you enjoy it and don’t forget to contact us if you’re running a meeting that is not on the calendar yet.
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You may have noticed some changes to our website recently. MHPN has been upgrading the site to improve its functionality so you can find what you are looking for faster and easier.
Our popular webinar recordings are linked to the home page for quick access. We have also simplified our registration process and navigation around the members’ area, and we are working to update our calendar module.
If you are looking for network meeting dates, please contact your state's MHPN office.
Thanks for your feedback and patience. We hope you will be pleased with the changes scheduled for the coming months.
Don’t forget, you can also join our online community:
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Complex trauma webinar
Clinicians hoping for a fly-on-the-wall insight into the effects of childhood abuse had their wishes fulfilled on September 20 with MHPN’s complex trauma webinar: working together, working better to support adult survivors of childhood abuse.
The fully subscribed webinar allowed 250 participants to share the observations and expertise of three highly credentialled specialists in complex trauma. The webinar included individual presentations, conversations between the panellists, and a Q&A format online.
Facilitated by Townsville GP and medical educator, Dr Michael Murray, the panel featured Sydney GP, consumer advocate, and author, Dr Cathy Kezelman, Melbourne psychologist, Ursula Benstead, and Brisbane psychiatrist, Professor Warwick Middleton.
The webinar used a case study of a survivor of childhood abuse, Sonya, a 42 year old mother of three and former prostitute and drug addict, who ‘doctor shops’ for anxiolytics and sedatives.
Dr Kezelman’s presentation covered the essential components of complex trauma. She also itemized their prevalence across emotional, physical and sexual forms of abuse, and examined impacts and coping strategies before introducing the case study.
Ursula Benstead, creator of the ‘Shark Cage’ metaphor and framework for abused women, discussed multimodal interventions over three stages of recovery:
- traumatic experience processing
- integration and reconnection.
Professor Middleton’s section probed disorders of extreme stress not otherwise specified, and the symptomotology and diagnostic spectrum of patients with dissociative identity disorder.
Following their individual presentations, the panel responded to questions from the audience and each other. The conversational style modelled the kind of collaborative dialogues that clinicians do, should and can have. They not only support better clinical outcomes for patients but also strengthen professional, collegiate relationships between clinicians.
Reviewing the webinar, Nicky Bisogni, MHPN’s Clinical Liaison and Professional Development Officer, said she hoped all participants would have gained a clearer understanding of the diagnostic ambiguities surrounding complex trauma and associated issues as well as the value of collaborative care and the role of other disciplines in supporting people who have experienced complex trauma.
After seeing the webinar, clinicians in general and GPs in particular would be better equipped to recognise symptoms of complex trauma. In turn, this could lead to an improved understanding of and response to allied issues and their care.
The webinar re-emphasized the importance and value of interdisciplinary cooperation, the very message MHPN encourages.
Feedback has been prompt, substantial and highly favourable:
‘I am very aware of trauma, having worked in the field for nearly 29 years. The webinar gave me a number of additional pieces of information to take into account, check out, give increased priority to. I found it very helpful. There is so much to learn from others in the work.’(Social worker)
‘I think I could have listened to each speaker for two hours (on separate occasions!) but the interaction between them was highly valuable.’ (Psychologist)
Find out more
Clinicians unable to attend the webinar can easily review a complete recording by visiting:
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Mental Health Week/Month
Mental Health Week is a national awareness event held to coincide with the World Federation of Mental Health’s World Mental Health Day, which takes place on 10 October each year.
Mental Health Week runs from Sunday 9th to Saturday 15th October this year in Australia. The event runs throughout October as Mental Health Month in New South Wales.
To encourage coordinators and members to share ideas for possible events and network topics for Mental Health Month we’ve created a Forum thread in our members only area, MHPN Online - after you have logged in, visit Forums > General Discussion > Ideas for Mental Health Week 2011.
Ideas are also welcome on the MHPN Facebook page.
For more information on Mental Health Week/Month in each state, visit:
VIC: The Mental Health Foundation of Australia (Vic)
QLD: Mental Health Association Queensland
SA: Mental Health Coalition of South Australia
NSW: Mental Association of New South Wales
WA: Western Australian Association of Mental Health
Tasmania: Department of Health & Human Services
ACT: Mental Health Community Coalition ACT
NT: The Northern Territory Council of Social Service
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Breaking new ground in mental health
The success of the Mental Health Professionals Network’s free webinar program, which addresses clinical issues in mental health, has exceeded all expectations.
The webinars (web-based seminars, viewable through a normal browser) have been consistently oversubscribed, with 1,100 clinicians alone registering for the most recent.
Being online, MHPN is able to pull in expert interdisciplinary panels of speakers from across the country to share their insights on particular topics.
Subjects addressed have included adolescent mental health, borderline personality disorder, and grief, trauma and anxiety.
The panelists have included general practitioners, psychiatrists, psychologists, mental health nurses, consumers and carers.
Recordings of all previous webinars are available on MHPN’s website for those unable to attend the live event online, and again, their massive uptake has surprised even the organisation.
MHPN Communications Manager, Tanya Reardon, says
“The technology is a relatively new phenomenon in the delivery of professional development activities and the demand has exceeded all expectations. With that in mind, we are working to improve the accessibility of the webinars to more people and to enhance the viewer’s experience. "
What it indicates – and what detailed user feedback confirms - is the absolute hunger amongst clinicians across Australia for easy, free access to professional development activities, and to connect and collaborate with other mental health professionals.
The webinars make this much easier, whether a clinician is based in a rural or remote location, or simply a busy urban professional. For many, the webinars also offer the opportunity to earn CPD points.
MHPN itself is gaining experience with each webinar it stages, and there are hopes to expand both access and frequency. While the technology has matured, there are still improvements being made. Participants currently require a hard-wired internet connection, as wireless connections can be too unstable.
Notwithstanding the challenges, use of the technology will undoubtedly continue to gain traction within the health profession.
MHPN webinars which ran in July 2011 included two Group development and dynamics for MHPN Coordinators, and a Psychosis webinar.
Recent comments from participants
“us in the Far North have been desperate for this for years”
“thank you so much – can watch from the comfort of my own rural home and it does not cost me $1000s”
“I cannot stress enough how useful tonight's webinar was to my learning and clinical practice.”
”It was great to have the multi-discipline perspective live as there are very few opportunities in the area I live for this level of case review.”
”It can be very expensive and at times just not possible to attend PD [Professional Development], but this forum made it easy and I found the discussion of great use.”
“Keep the webinars coming! They are a fantastic resource for learning!”
How they work
MHPN webinars usually run for 1 - 1.5 hours and are facilitated by one or more presenters who are mental health professionals with expertise in the topic.
MHPN staff are on hand to ensure the webinars run smoothly and to help with any troubleshooting questions.
The sessions are based on an interdisciplinary panel discussion on a clinical topic.
In most cases, even the panel of presenters are located at different sites. The webinar is presented as a split screen - a main section for displaying presentation slides, and a side section which shows the presenters on live video.
During the webinar, participants can participate in an interactive forum by posting questions, comments, or feedback to the presenters using a text box. After the webinar, MHPN members can continue the forum discussion in the MHPN Online Forums section.
Previous MHPN webinars
Missed a webinar or want to watch one again? No worries - recordings on topics including Adolescent mental health, Borderline Personality Disorder and Grief, trauma and anxiety are available on the webinar pages listed in the Webinar archive.
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Mental Health Professionals Network services to continue
The Mental Health Professionals Network (MHPN), an initiative of the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing, has announced its operational contract is to be extended.
Negotiations between MHPN and the Department of Health and Ageing for a new three year contract have been progressing positively.
Given that the current funding agreement formally ended on 30 June 2011, the Department has agreed to an extension of this agreement until 31 October 2011 while the processing of a new contract takes place.
The proposed next phase of MHPN will then commence from 1 November 2011.
This step will maintain continuity and momentum in consolidating the existing networks, and establishing and providing support to new ones.
It also means that MHPN’s popular series of webinars based on collaborative care, which have attracted over 7,000 podcast downloads since late 2010, can be extended over the next 12 months.
MHPN was established in 2008 to strengthen collaborative practice in primary mental health care, and thereby patient outcomes, by fostering local, interdisciplinary community networks of mental health professionals.
To date, MHPN has established over 480 interdisciplinary mental health networks across Australia, 42% of them in regional, rural and remote locations.
In the last year, there have been over 10,000 attendances from participating clinicians.
Members of MHPN networks include general practitioners, psychiatrists, psychologists, mental health nurses, occupational therapists, social workers and other professionals involved in primary mental health care.
In addition to the hundreds of MHPN networks addressing general mental health issues, there are over 40 networks devoted to special interests. These include alcohol and drugs, eating disorders, adolescent mental health, Indigenous health and wellbeing, and serving culturally and linguistically diverse families (CALD).
In developing its operations, MHPN has worked closely with its project partners: Australian Psychological Society, Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, Australian College of Mental Health Nurses, Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, Australian Association of Social Workers and Occupational Therapy Australia.
MHPN looks forward to their continuing participation in this unique project, and exploring further opportunities for enhancing collaborative care in the primary mental health sector across Australia.
Tanya Reardon, Communications Manager
Phone: (03) 8662 6610
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Help develop better support tools for mental health professionals
Medicare Australia is conducting an online survey open to all mental health professionals to get feedback on our Medicare and Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme support tools.
As mental health professionals are relatively new to Medicare claiming and PBS prescribing, the survey aims to:
- get feedback from mental health professionals about the support and information they need when interacting with Medicare and/or the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme
- facilitate the co-design of support materials in partnership with mental health professionals to ensure content and delivery methods are accurate, relevant and useful.
By completing the survey, respondents can provide their views on:
- the mental health items in the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) they find complex to interpret and use
- the existing Medicare Australia support resources
- the preferred communication channels for receiving information and support material from Medicare Australia.
Responses to the survey are anonymous.
Completing the survey
Time required: 10-15 minutes (approximately)
Closes: 1 August 2011
Jenine Van De Werve
Phone: 08 9214 8229
Medicare Australia has a range of online education services available to help health professionals understand their obligations when working with the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) and Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). These resources are available online at:
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Medicare Locals: improving primary health care
The first of Australia’s new network of primary healthcare providers, Medicare Locals will be up and running from 1 July 2011.
Find out which Medicare Local region, and the activities and priorities for each region at:
Check the final boundaries for all Medicare Locals, other than those in Victoria:
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MHPN Goulburn take a trip into history
Forty mental health professionals met for a special meeting at the Kenmore Hospital museum on 11 May – they were the last group to tour the facility and it was their largest network meeting so far.
Read more about the occasion at:
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GP Participation survey summary
MHPN invited GPs who have attended one or more MHPN activities to complete the GP participation survey. The survey was sent to 3474 GPs, with a total of 528 responses received.
The purpose of the survey was to enhance the communication strategies aimed at gaining GP participation in MHPN networks and in designing MHPN network activities to be more appealing to GPs.
Overall the survey finding confirmed the strategies currently being undertaken by MHPN to engage GPs in MHPN activities.
The data suggests GPs who are engaged with MHPN are more likely to have an indentified special interest in mental health and work an equivalent full time position (31-40 hours) in a group general practice. A quarter of all respondents have completed additional training in psychological medicine, with over half having completed level 1 mental health training.
Access to the following factors at a network meeting was rated as ‘very important’ or ‘quite important’ by respondents:
- Being able to mix with a number of professions (92%)
- Access to mental health resources (89%)
- Presence of ‘expert speakers’ who present at the meetings (88%)
- A pre-planned calendar of events for the year (81%)
- Presence of a psychiatrist at network meetings (79%)
- Gaining CPD points for attendance (67%)
The factors considered ‘very important’ or ‘quite important’ to attendance at network meetings are linked to the reasons why GPs attend network meetings (see 2.2). The data suggests that where the above six factors can be met or offered, the network may be more likely to meet the needs of the GPs.
MHPN will continue to work alongside network coordinators to facilitate a mix of disciplines and provide access to incentives such as expert speakers, mental health resources through MHPN online and CPD endorsed learning opportunities. Many networks are now working towards developing a pre-planned calendar of meetings for the year.
Why do GP attend network meetings?
GPs were asked to rate on a scale their reasons for attendance at network meetings. A majority of respondents rated the following reasons for attendance at network meetings as ‘very important’ or ‘quite important’:
- To be better able to manage mental health presentations in the practice
- Opportunity to meet other professionals to whom they can confidently refer for mental health issues
- To increase knowledge of local mental health services
- To increase knowledge of a variety of mental health disorders
- To learn more about local mental health referral pathways.
The relative importance of establishing new or improved referral pathways is linked to the need for networks to offer a good mix of disciplines, which was considered ‘very important’ or ‘quite important’ by 92% of respondents.
Topics of interest
MHPN asked respondents to identify areas of mental health most useful as topics for MHPN events (table 2). The top five topics in descending order of preference include:
- Child & Adolescent mental health
- Drug & Alcohol
- Personality disorders
- Psychosocial intervention
- Eating disorders
The topics of interest will be used by MHPN to assist in the planning of future webinars, online forums and networking activities.
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beyondblue Clinical Practice Guidelines
National depression initiative beyondblue has made available Clinical Practice Guidelines for adolescents, young people, and women in the perinatal period. They draw on the latest high-quality research evidence to provide recommendations and good practice points for health professionals to identify, treat and manage depression, anxiety and related disorders.
The Guidelines have been compiled by expert advisory groups, including some of Australia's leading mental health experts and people with personal experience of mental health disorders. They have also received approval from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).
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Helping children faced with parental mental illness
A critical mental health issue is the impact of illness on families. Where a parent experiences mental illness, children have an elevated risk of experiencing mental health difficulties themselves. Children Of Parents with a Mental Illness (COPMI) national initiative aims to promote better mental health outcomes for children of parents with a mental health problem or disorder.
An initiative of The Australian Infant, Child, Adolescent and Family Mental Health Association (AICAFMHA), with funding from the Federal Government, COPMI works with:
- health professionals
- the media
- service organisations
The website offers a range of information resources for children, parents, educators, childhood workers, GPs and health professionals.
In particular are a range of resources to support mental health workers in this area. The ‘Keeping Families and Children in Mind: COPMI Mental Health Worker Education Resource’ has been developed for mental health workers and other allied workers to support parents and help prevent mental health difficulties in their children.
There are also books, fact sheets, DVDs and other resources available to support families and children.
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Full house for Borderline Personality Disorder webinar
Thank you to everyone who participated in the Borderline Personality Disorder webinar on 13 April 2011.
Apologies to those who were unable to join in the live event as our platform of 250 participants was quickly filled. This was a first for an MHPN webinar which is a positive as it supports our plans to offer more webinars as CPD activities.
MHPN are continuously improving the webinar program to accommodate more participants and improve the technical experience. Webinars are a relatively new technology in the delivery of CPD and we value your feedback.
For a post-webinar resources, including a full recording of the webinar and the exit survey, view:
Your support is much appreciated.
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2011 Occupational Therapy Australia NSW Mental Health Forum
The Mental Health Professionals Network (MHPN) attended the NSW Branch of Occupational Therapy Australia’s mental health forum on 25 March 2011.
MHPN was one of the five sponsor organisations for the event and the booth was visited by half of the attendees who sought to learn more about our work and the role MHPN can play in their practice.
Many of these occupational therapists were not already involved in MHPN networks and were interested in how the networks can work to promote occupational therapists in mental health treatment and management.
There was also interest in how to establish MHPN networks to attract optimal CPD points, of greater significance given the move to national registration and accreditation in 2012.
The occasion enabled MHPN to discuss closer collaboration with Occupational Therapy Australia NSW, and the forum’s other sponsor organisations: the Mental Health Coordinating Council (MHCC), the Schizophrenia Fellowship of NSW (SFNSW), Reach Out.com and Indigenous Allied Health Australia Inc (IAHA).
Photo: OT forum attendees were interested in how MHPN networks could support their practice.
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Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet: A knowledge resource for Indigenous social and emotional wellbeing, and more
The Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet, is a web resource that contains extensive and up-to-date information about health issues affecting Indigenous people.
It is designed to be an authoritative 'one-stop shop' that makes knowledge on Indigenous health readily accessible to inform policy, practice, research, teaching, and general community understanding.
The HealthInfoNet has a particularly comprehensive section about Indigenous social and emotional wellbeing, a term generally preferred by Indigenous communities because it reflects a positive and holistic perspective.
The term acknowledges that the social and emotional wellbeing of Indigenous people is the result of a complex interplay of social, emotional, spiritual, cultural, and historical factors.
This is a priority area for HealthInfoNet as the social and emotional wellbeing of Indigenous Australians is considerably poorer than that of non-Indigenous Australians.
The section contains reviews and background information, relevant policies and strategies, details about organisations that work in the area, past and present programs and projects, useful resources, relevant publications, and information for the workforce, such as job opportunities, training etc.
There is also a yarning place (electronic network) that people can join for free to share information and knowledge with others working in the area.
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Network meeting ideas
To assist network coordinators, an MHPN ONLINE forum thread on meeting topics has been established. We encourage you to list those topics which were of interest for your own network on the thread. To contribute, login to MHPN ONLINE, where you’ll find the thread in the Coordinators section of the Forums.
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Australian of the Year Awards
MHPN’s own Amanda Raward attended the Australian of the Year Awards on Australia Day and had the opportunity to meet Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, and catch up with the 2010 Australian of the Year, Professor Patrick McGorry.
While Amanda wasn’t representing MHPN in an official capacity, she did wear ‘MHPN pink’ and took the opportunity to discuss the MHPN initiative with Professor McGorry.
Our congratulations go to Australian of the Year 2011, Simon McKeon, and all the other award recipients.
Photos: MHPN's Amanda Raward with Australian PM Julia Gillard and Professor Patrick McGorry, Australian of the Year 2010.
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Speaking engagements for psychiatrists
Feedback shows that access to expert speakers is the most compelling drawcard for network members.
To help further attract clinicians to networks, the Mental Health Professionals Network (MHPN) is making funds available to sponsor presentations by psychiatrists within their area of expertise.
The initiative has been designed to recognise that it is particularly challenging to attract psychiatrists to network meetings, and was developed in response to feedback from networks who have indicated their interest in having psychiatrists attend meetings to share their knowledge.
This includes psychiatrists who may be members of a network and wish to address it as a guest speaker (or be a guest speaker for another network), as well as those who are not yet members of a network.
The initiative works as a win-win for networks and psychiatrists. For networks, the benefits are:
- Access to psychiatrists as speakers attracts clinicians, and provides opportunities to discuss mental health care in an interdisciplinary setting, thereby strengthening networks.
- It will create opportunities for coordinators to schedule new network meetings.
- It will bring in expertise to networks that might otherwise not be available.
For psychiatrists, the benefits are:
- It enables psychiatrists to enhance their own professional profiles, share their expertise and insights, and make rewarding connections.
- It will provide greater opportunities for involvement by psychiatrists who are already members of a network, as well as those who have yet to participate.
How the program works
- MHPN will remunerate participating psychiatrists for preparation and presentation time at a rate of $366 (excluding GST). This has been agreed with the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) and is based on Remuneration Tribunal rates.
- This is additional to the $500 network funding currently available to networks.
- The psychiatrist will need to send their invoice direct to MHPN for payment.
- Travel and accommodation expenses, if required in rural and remote locations, may be claimed upon prior agreement with MHPN. Travel expenses must be deducted from the Rural & Remote Loading of up to $400– this is not additional to current funds.
- The offer is available until end October 2011 and is limited to once per network.
- MHPN will also work with network coordinators and the local RANZCP branch to locate psychiatrists who fulfil requirements.
- A general brief will be made available to presenters to ensure that their presentation fulfills CPD criteria for each discipline.
How to make it happen
If you are a psychiatrist or network coordinator and are interested in taking advantage of this opportunity, or for more information about the program or any other network questions, please contact us:
Phone: 1800 209 031
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Working together in 2011
Happy New Year!
Many MHPN networks are now up and running following the success of the workshops held last year. In 2011, we look forward to strengthening these networks by providing ongoing support and proactively seeking collaboration opportunities.
We would also like to extend our sympathies to the communities and clinicians who have been affected by the floods in Queensland, NSW, Victoria and other parts of Australia. A number of MHPN networks have been directly impacted and we are maintaining contact with their members.
Health professionals requiring assistance can visit:
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Webinar: Adolescent Mental Health: depression, suicidality and cyber-bullying
Hosted by: Mental Health Professionals Network Ltd, facilitated by Dr Ajeet Singh, psychiatrist.
- Dr Michael Carr-Gregg, psychologist
- Dr Peter Parry, psychiatrist
- Dr Stephen Carbone, GP
The purpose of the webinar is to showcase a collaborative approach to mental health care by way of an interdisciplinary case study panel discussion on adolescent mental health: depression, suicidality and cyber-bullying.
This webinar will be live and comprised of two parts:
- Facilitated case study panel discussion
- Question and answers
- Improved understanding of discipline specific approaches to the diagnosis, treatment and management of an adolescent mental health presentation with features of depression, suicidality and cyber-bullying
- Improved understanding of the ways in which mental health interdisciplinary collaboration contributes to better patient outcomes
Yes. CPD points may available for this webinar.
About the presenters
Dr Michael Carr-Gregg, PhD MAPS
Dr Michael Carr-Gregg is an adolescent psychologist working in private practice in Kew, Melbourne. He has held a variety of appointments including Executive Director of the New Zealand Drug Foundation and Director of the Centre for Social Health at the University of Melbourne and in 1993 was appointed an Associate Professor in the Department of Paediatrics at the University of Melbourne.
In addition to being the Agony Uncle for Girlfriend Magazine for the last 6 years, Michael is also the parenting expert for Channel 7's Sunrise and the Morning Show, and is a social commentator on Fairfax radio 3AW.
Dr Peter Parry, MBBS, FRANZCP, Cert Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (RANZCP)
Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist
Dr Peter Parry is a child & adolescent psychiatrist with the Southern Adelaide Health Service – CAMHS, and a senior lecturer at Flinders University.
He graduated from Adelaide Medical School in 1983, was a medical officer in the Royal Australian Navy, general practitioner and worked in palliative care before training in psychiatry from 1990 at Glenside Hospital in South Australia. Since 1995 he has worked in both inpatient and outpatient CAMHS services in South Australia and the UK.
He has an interest in mindfulness based psychotherapy, developmental psychology and the models underpinning psychiatric diagnosis and has published on the controversy surrounding the diagnosis of paediatric bipolar disorder in the USA.
Dr Stephen Carbone, MBBS
Dr Stephen Carbone is a Melbourne-based GP with a specialist interest in, and experience working in, the mental health field. He currently works part time in general practice and is employed part time as a policy advisor with headspace, the National Youth Mental Health Initiative.
Dr Ajeet Singh MBBS(Melb) MPsych(Melb) FRANZCP
Dr Singh is a private psychiatrist based at The Geelong Clinic, with interests in mood disorders and early memory loss. He is involved with the curriculum development of Australia's newest medical school at Deakin University where he is a senior lecturer. Interactive online education is a major component of this new medical school. He is also the founder of a regional mental health political lobby group GMHPN.
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Free access to CRUfADclinic
Professor Gavin Andrews from the Clinical Research Unit for Anxiety and Depression at Sydney’s St Vincent’s Hospital is offering CRUfADclinic for free. CRUfADclinic offers five internet based cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) courses designed to treat people with anxiety and depression.
Courses are suitable for patients who suffer low to moderate depression, generalized anxiety, panic disorder, social phobia or mixed anxiety and depression.
The CRUfADclinic courses are now free to clinicians (GPs and AHPs) and patients associated with Rural Divisions courtesy of the Department of Health and Ageing as part of the ATAPS initiative.
For more information or to register, visit:
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This week is national OT Week
OT week runs from the 24th October to the 30th. OT week raises awareness of the contribution occupational therapists make to the health and well being of patients and clients with a range of medical issues.
October 10th is World Mental Health Day
The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) World Mental Health Day on 10 October raises public awareness about mental health issues. The Day promotes more open discussion of mental disorders, and investments in prevention and treatment services.
World Mental Health Day is a rallying point for advocacy groups and mental health organisations. To mark the occasion WHO will release its Mental Health Gap Intervention Guide (mhGAP-IG) on the 7th October.
What are you doing to mark WMH Day?
You can discuss World Mental Health Day and promote your event in the MHPN Online forums by logging in to MHPN Online.
MHPN project extension
MHPN will continue to support interdisciplinary mental health networks until at least June 2011 after it was granted an extension to its contract with the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing.
This extension acknowledges the significant gains made by the project in promoting and supporting interdisciplinary mental health in rural, regional and metropolitan communities across Australia.
Lively MHPN Online coordinators forum delivers fresh ideas for networks
Coordinators recently discussed their successes and challenges in building sustainable MHPN Networks during a lively online chat in MHPN Online. The topic remains open for comment under the forums tab in MHPN Online.
Invitation to live coordinators forum
Topic: Share your experiences, successes and challenges in building sustainable MHPN Networks
Tuesday 21st September, 6.30-7.30pm (AEST Melb)
Facilitator: Robyn Lidston, MHPN Senior Project Officer
This forum involves logging into MHPN Online and participating in an online discussion with other MHPN coordinators from across Australia simply by reading and commenting on people’s posts in real time.
To attend, login to MHPN Online then click on the Forums tab. Scroll down to the MHPN Online Forums > Coordinators, then select the ‘Live Coordinator’s Forum’.
If you haven’t joined MHPN Online visit www.mhpn.org.au and click the MHPN Online button or call 1800 209 031 for assistance.
We look forward to your participation.
MHCA Survey of the beliefs and attitudes of health professionals
The Mental Health Council of Australia (MHCA) is undertaking a survey of the beliefs and attitudes of health professionals who provide mental health services towards people with mental illness.
As the peak national body for mental health the MHCA is committed to ensuring fair and equitable mental health services for all Australians. We are interested in gaining a better understanding about the beliefs and attitudes of professionals who deliver mental health services; including whether they differ from those of the general population.
Research in this area internationally has been mixed, with only limited information available in Australia regarding the extent of stigma within this group of professionals.
As such we would like to invite you to complete a survey about your beliefs and attitudes towards people with mental illness. We understand that your time is valuable, but also wish to emphasise the importance of gaining information from mental health service providers such as yourself so that we have an accurate picture of the nature of stigma in Australia.
You should know that all persons taking part in the study will be doing so confidentially with no identifying particulars requested or recorded. You should know that if you do choose to take part in the study and inadvertently provide any information that may identify you, it will be removed by the project manager prior to any analysis being conducted.
There is further detailed information about the study attached here.
If you have any questions about this project please do not hesitate to contact:
Rachelle Irving (Director of Projects and Research at the Mental Health Council of Australia)
Professor Ann Taket (Deakin University)
If you would like to part in the study, please click here to be directed to the external secure website that contains the survey questionnaire. The questionnaire will probably take 10-15 minutes to complete, and can be completed at any point up to 10 December 2010.
Hundreds of new interdisciplinary mental health networks established
Since its inception in October 2008, the Mental Health Professionals Network (MHPN) has rolled out almost 1,200 interdisciplinary mental health workshops to over 15,000 clinicians working in primary mental healthcare across Australia.
Workshops were designed to bring together mental health clinicians working at a local level to discuss the skills and resources available in order to identify new referral pathways and a collaborative approach to treatment in the primary care setting.
A case study was chosen from a suite of 12 for each workshop whereby clinicians were asked to explore how each profession could contribute to the patient’s care under the Better Access to Psychiatrists, Psychologists and General Practitioners through the Medicare Schedule (Better Access) initiative.
Over 15,000 clinicians participated in 1,169 workshops delivered across metropolitan, regional, rural and remote locations across all state and territories of Australia, including locations as diverse as Nhulunbuy in North East Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Kununarra in the Kimberley, Western Australia, Kangaroo Island in South Australia through to Huonville in Southern Tasmania.
Workshops were predominantly location-based, however a proportion were also delivered according to special interests including Indigenous, child and adolescent, perinatal, CALD, dual diagnosis and dual disability, eating disorders and aged psychiatry.
Whilst the workshop experiences varied from place to place depending on the mix of professionals attending, the issues of the local landscape and the facilities on offer, essentially the same formula was used for all workshops. And the feedback was overwhelmingly positive about the experiences of attendees.
The project succeeded in attracting an interdisciplinary mix of mental health professionals. Psychologists were the most highly represented professional discipline at workshops, representing over 40% of attendees, followed by general practitioners, mental health nurses and social workers.
Critical to the project’s success was the engagement of general practitioners who act as the gatekeepers to the Better Access mental health treatment plans. On average three to four general practitioners attended each workshop where the overall average number of workshop participants was 13.
Whilst workshop participants primarily consisted of private practitioners eligible to provide services under Better Access, approximately 10 percent of total participants were from other professions involved in mental health. This was more prevalent in rural and remote areas where the strengthening of the interface between private and public services is integral to the provision of quality care.
Each workshop was facilitated by a local mental health professional recruited and supported by MHPN. Almost half of all workshops were facilitated by psychologists. Interestingly psychiatrists, whilst relatively small in numbers (approximately 500 attended), had the largest proportion of facilitators (around 30%) compared to the other professions.
The success of the workshop phase of the project has already led to the establishment of 466 interdisciplinary networks, with more networks still emerging. MHPN continues to support these networks with administrative and financial support.
In addition, MHPN supports mental health practitioners with an interactive website incorporating opportunities to keep in contact, share resources and access useful information about areas of interest in mental health.
MHPN is funded by the Commonwealth Government Department of Health and Ageing until the end of 2010 and is seeking an extension based on these excellent results.
The Mental Health Professionals Network (MHPN) project is governed by a board of directors from four member organisations:
- The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners
- Australian Psychological Society
- The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists
- Australian College of Mental Health Nurses.
The project also involves three partner organizations: the Australian Association of Social Workers, OT AUSTRALIA and The Royal Australasian College of Physicians.
Snapshot of Australian primary health care research 2010
The Primary Health Care Research and Information Service has released its Snapshot of Australian primary health care research 2010. This snapshot of recent Australian research projects demonstrates the potential for primary health care research to improve the health of Australians.
To disucss this document and its impact on mental health care log on to MHPN Online and post a topic in our discussion forums.
Psychiatrists lead interdisciplinary mental health care
Three Darwin psychiatrists and one Darwin psychologist have become a shining example for interdisciplinary mental health care, with their strong facilitation and leadership driving development of a strong, sustainable and successful interdisciplinary mental health network in the region even before their first network meeting.
After facilitating workshops run by Mental Health Professionals Network late in 2009, the four practitioners committed to coordinating four separate networks.
Federal youth mental health organisation Headspace and the local Division of General Practice co-morbidity project officer played an active role in the roll-out of the initial workshops and importantly, have committed to providing further support to the networks.
The four coordinators have met for a strategic discussion on forging and maintaining ongoing interdisciplinary mental health networks in the region. This resulted in a planned roll out of four Special Interest Group workshops; Men’s, Women’s, Youth and Adult. Headspace will again be involved, facilitating the Youth workshop.
The strong individual networks are using the upcoming special interest workshops to forge a regional relationship and expand their existing networks. A strong turnout is expected at each of the workshops as coordinators will invite participants in the network formed from the initial MHPN workshop, as well as colleagues and contacts from their existing professional circles.
The four networks enjoy an impressive spread of disciplines from both public and private sectors. Of the 68 attendees to the initial MHPN workshops, 11 were GPs, 9 Mental Health Nurses, 26 psychologists and 7 were psychiatrists. Occupational Therapists, Social workers and other related occupations made up the remaining 15 participants.
\Strong representation across disciplines, the support from Headspace, the local Division of General Practice and the leadership shown by the four facilitators give these networks a solid foundation for success.
Each enjoys access to MHPN’s $500 funding for ongoing inter-disciplinary mental health networks, as well as access to administrative support.
The impress initiative shown in collaborating to organise the four upcoming meetings, with a focus on including more members, is already proving fruitful, generating a buzz around the network.
Psychiatrists are a cornerstone of MHPN’s vision for sustainable ongoing interdisciplinary networks. Their rank as respected and valued mental health professionals attracts other clinicians seeking valuable working relationships with psychiatrists to the group, thereby ensuring high participation across disciplines.
Psychiatrist involvement is a particular attraction for General Practitioners, who as the gatekeepers to Medicare’s Better Access scheme are also pillars of the MHPN network initiative.
For more information on MHPN workshops, or on joining an existing MHPN network please visit www.mhpn.org.au.
MHPN goes beyondblue
National mental health initiative beyondblue has joined Mental Health Professional’s Network in the treatment of depression and mental illness. From February, a co-branded flier will be handed out to MHPN participants at every workshop across Australia. MHPN will also distribute an information pack promoting the many free resources available on the beyondblue website.
This positive collaboration is a landmark for MHPN which is committed to promoting cross-discipline, frontline care of mental health issues.
A range of support materials for consumers, carers and families are available and clinicians attending MHPN workshops and network meetings will be encouraged to join the beyondblue online clinical directory.
The beyondblue initiative began in 2000 and is an independent, not for profit organisation which enjoys bi-partisan political support. It works to bring mental illness issues out of the closet and into public consciousness.
beyondblue has several high profile patrons including former Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett.
Resources on the website include tips for families coping with mental illness, depression and substance abuse, information sheets for general practitioners and mental health clinicians, as well as guides for carers, consumers and families and an online directory of practitioners.
The online directory is significant for MHPN as our participants look to expand their referral partnerships and provide interdisciplinary, collaborative care of consumers.
Funds to help ongoing networks
Further assistance is being offered by MHPN to support ongoing MHPN networks across Australia. MHPN Chairman, Mr John McGrath AM, recently announced the availability of $500 funding for all networks continuing to meet following an initial workshop.
In light of feedback from workshop participants and facilitators, it became clear that new networks need further assistance from MHPN to establish themselves as sustainable networks.
The funding assistance is being directed to sustain ongoing networks after the initial workshop. It can be used to cover such costs as venue fees, modest catering expenses and guest speakers.
MHPN can also provide additional administrative support to networks including advice and resources to assist in creating successful future meetings.
Letters from John McGrath were sent to all workshop participants last week and have been mailed to all facilitators this week. Please contact your state senior project officer for more information or call 1800 209 031.
Stirfry unites Aboriginal community and mental health services
Some of the best gatherings are united through food and the Elcho Island MHPN workshop was no exception. Situated off the coast of East Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, the island's largest community is the settlement of Galiwinku.
A traditional Aboriginal community with restricted access where permission to visit is required by law.
The workshop, or more aptly described as a local gathering, was held in July at the Nalkanbuy Clinic, Galiwinku and was attended by 20 community members and 13 health professionals, including a GP, mental health nurse, senior aboriginal mental health worker (General Practice Network Northern Territory, GPNNT) and 10 indigenous health workers (from the two Health Services).
The session was facilitated by Vivien Speight, a mental health nurse with the East Arnhem Mental Health Service.
The indigenous health workers arrived at 12pm.
They had not used a wok before, so Vivien and the senior aboriginal mental health worker (GPNNT) showed them how to use it by cooking their meal.
While the workers enjoyed the delights of a stir fry, Vivien presented a framework for understanding “what makes a strong parent” (the concept of “strong” as opposed to “good” resonates with indigenous people).
At 2pm community members arrived. The health workers cooked a stir fry - the first ever cooked by the workers and the first ever eaten by the community!
The group then played Aim High, an assessment and goal setting board game which enables participants to recognise a responsibility or task and then identify the associated emotional response.
Participation in this game gave a voice to the community members to share the struggles and challenges they experience in parenting young children.
Exposure to the parenting framework (in the initial part of the workshop) gave the workers a basis to strategically respond to these concerns.
Just before the workshop concluded, community members presented Vivien with a farewell gift of an art work they had created. Vivien is leaving her post and the region soon and MHPN sincerely thank Vivien for her work and wish her all the best.