COVID-19 creates greater need for mental health services

Assessment and Brief Intervention Clinics (ABIC) are meeting a demand for mental health care services since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pandemic has had a significant impact on people’s mental health. Social isolation due to restrictions, income losses and relationships strains are all broader social issues arising from COVID-19 that have affected people’s mental health.

Public mental health services noted significant increases during the pandemic to their Acute Care Teams (ACT), either via the Emergency Department or via calls to 1300 MHCALL.

In response, Metro North Mental Health (MNMH) allocated resources from the Mental Health Wellbeing and Community fund to manage this additional demand upon the ACTs and help support the needs of the community.

The 18-month funding provided each MNMH ACT with a full-time, senior mental health clinician, co-located within the 3 PHN Mental Health Service Hubs (Community Recovery and Discovery Centre, Neami’s Living and Learning Centre and Stride Centre).

Metro North Mental Health’s Kylie Garrick, executive sponsor for ABIC, said having the clinicians located in the Mental Health Service Hubs provide consumers with an accessible, effective and timely service.

“The ABIC clinicians undertake mental health assessment and brief therapeutic interventions with consumers who present with mental health issues, along with their families and carers,” she said.

Since the commencement of the clinics in early to mid-2021 to June 2022, approximately 244 consumers were supported across MNMH.

“The majority of consumers using the clinics were aged 26-46 and were female, with the primary diagnostic groups being personality disorders, depression and adjustment disorders,” Ms Garrick said.

“A number of different interventions have been delivered by the clinics including Dialectical Behaviour Therapy, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Solutions-Focused Therapy, Interpersonal Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Motivational Enhancement and Psycho-education.”

Most consumers were able to be discharged into the care of their GP for ongoing support.

Many consumers have provided positive feedback on the care they received at the clinics. A female consumer who was seen by ABIC and received support with her NDIS application, for example, contacted the ABIC clinician to compliment them on their service.

“She wanted to pass on a very big thank you, as she knows that you went above and beyond to help her. She said that what you have done has helped to change her life, and she will be forever grateful. She thinks that you are absolutely wonderful and wishes you all the best for the future. She just couldn’t say enough wonderful things about you,” Ms Garrick said.

ABIC clinicians also reported positive engagement with the ABIC role, as did other staff at the Mental Health Service Hubs.

“When a consumer who was participating in the Neami DBT group began expressing paranoid thoughts and suicidal ideation, for example, the ABIC clinician was able to provide an acute mental health assessment and facilitate direct transfer to ED for review and admission,” Ms Garrick said.

“The Neami wellbeing coaches felt well supported and were able to observe the assessment process providing clinical education. The consumer was able to access swift mental health assessment and transition into the inpatient unit with minimal distress and greater ease.”

Initially funded for 18 months, the ABIC clinicians have since been made permanent services offered by MNMH.

2023-02-08T11:36:01+10:003 February 2023|
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