Hunter New England and Central Coast PHN

18 September 2018  Project progress

MHPN networks are an opportunity for mental health practitioners from different disciplines to collaborate.  Research shows that networking develops practitioner relationships, improves referral pathways and outcomes for patients. 

The below networks are some of the networks that active in the Hunter New England and Central Coast PHN area. 

For more information about active networks in the Hunter New England and Central Coast area or how to start a network contact MHPN on 1800 209 031 or 

Newcastle Veteran-Focussed MHPN:

This network was established earlier this year and specifically focuses on practitioners who support the health of veterans. The network is co-coordinated by Cindy Hopkins, a local rehabilitation counsellor who has worked with veterans for many years, and Helen Murphy, a psychologist from the Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service. They have had one meeting since their inception, involving a very well-received presentation from a locally-based Exercise Physiologist titled “How veterans can benefit physically and mentally from working with an Exercise Physiologist”. More than fifteen people attended the meeting, and the network is currently in preparation for its second meeting which they are hoping to hold in August. 

Maitland and Hunter Valley ACT Interest Group

This network is coordinated by a local private psychologist practitioner. The network meets 6 times per year.  Meetings usually focus on case/group discussions around employing the psychological intervention Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT) using acceptance and mindfulness strategies mixed in different ways with commitment and behaviour-change strategies.

In October 2017, the network held its first annual workshop inviting local practitioners to learn more about ACT at an introductory level and how to apply it in therapy. The standard network meetings then offer members ongoing peer support to develop their skills in applying the therapy with clients. 

Newcastle Persistent Pain and Mental Health Journal Club

With a specific interest in the management of persistent pain and mental health, Newcastle psychologist Dr Mike Shelley coordinates the Journal Club.  The group meets quarterly for breakfast at a local Newcastle café.  Over breakfast, members or guests discuss a relevant journal article.  The article is provided to all members prior to the meeting which gives them time to prepare a response.  A number of other professionals attend the meetings from backgrounds in general practice, occupational therapy, and psychiatry. 

Newcastle & District MHPN 

Established in 2010 and coordinated by a local Mental Health Nurse and Mental Health Accredited Social Worker, this network has a general focus on topics from across the mental health spectrum. The network meets at Lifeline in Islington four times per year, with a broad mix of professionals from a varied range of core mental health disciplines in private practice and from the not-for-profit sector. The most recent meeting featured network member and psychologist Dr Shane Pascoe presenting on Sleep and mental health. 

Maitland MHPN

Coordinated by local psychiatrist, Dr Pek Ang, this network meets regularly and has held 20+ meetings since it was established in 2010.  It is currently seeking expressions of interest for new members.  Meetings to date have consisted of interdisciplinary peer support / case review sessions.  This year the network will re-establish its direction and broaden meeting formats.

Central Coast Child and Adolescent Mental Health

This network is coordinated by Helen Isenhour, Manager of headspace Gosford and headspace Lake Haven, and Catherine Merillo, Senior Psychologist at CYPMS.  It meets 4 times per year to discuss local mental health priorities for treating the mental health of children and adolescents. Meetings consist of member and guest presentations and interdisciplinary group discussions on topics presented.

Forster/Taree Network

At a recent meeting, practitioners invited Samara Shehata, Community Health Promotion Officer for ACON Hunter for the Lower Mid North Coast region to speak on Promoting the Mental Health of LGBTI people.  11 mental health practitioners attended the meeting, which was held at the Staff Education Centre Manning Rural Referral Hospital. 

Tamworth Eating Disorders Network

Mental health nurse, Marian McKenzie from Smith Street Medical Practice coordinates the Tamworth Eating Disorders Network.   Practitioners meet once a month to discuss practice issues, referral pathways, and interdisciplinary treatments in the Tamworth area.  Network members include local GPs, mental health nurses, social workers, psychologists, occupational therapists and dietitians.  The network provides excellent opportunities for collegial networking, peer support and professional development on a wide range of mental health topics. 

 Newcastle Complex Trauma Network

This network was formed out of a need for GPs and front line mental health professionals, to better recognise and respond to survivors in a trauma-informed way, and with interdisciplinary support.  It was established as a result of webinars MHPN produced in partnership with the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.  The network is coordinated by Private Practice Psychologist, Alikki Russell, and features a regular core membership of psychologists, mental health social workers, counsellors, GPs, and a range of professionals from the not-for-profit sector.  The network meets quarterly, and features local guest presenters who specialise in trauma-informed practice.  

Inverell Network

 Local psychologists, Jodie Sheather and Elizabeth Lloyd coordinate this interdisciplinary practitioner network.  The group meets four times per year at a private practice in Inverell.  A steady membership of core primary mental health professionals, GPs and support workers from community not-for-profit organisations are regular attendees of the meetings.  A local Inverell pharmacist presented at the network’s June meeting on Mental Health from a Pharmacy Perspective. When possible the network invites a visiting psychiatrist to present on topics such as Medication for Mental Illness.  The network provides excellent opportunities for collegial networking, peer support and professional development on a wide range of mental health topics.