Mind Australia will provide an important alternative to hospitalisation and Emergency Department presentations for people experiencing mental and psychological distress and/or suicidality in South Australia.

Mind’s Connect – Mount Gambier service is designed to prevent hospitalisations for people in crisis and to support early discharge for people who are already in an acute in-patient setting.

People who are experiencing mental distress in the Limestone Coast region in south eastern South Australia, can be referred to the program by Emergency Departments, acute inpatient units and the ambulance service. They will be supported to develop the skills to better manage their mental health challenges in the community, reducing the likelihood of future crisis and hospitalisations. 

Connect South Australia began in 2021 as a six-month trial, commissioned by the Northern Adelaide Local Health Network (NALHN). The model was then extended for another six months. Program evaluation revealed that peer workers in mental health care and crisis settings contribute to the reduction of emergency and hospital presentations in crisis situations.

The program evaluation showed that:

  • 100% of participants felt listened to, heard and validated
  • 89% of participants felt they learnt new ways of keeping track of their own mental health
  • 88% of participants felt their progress was directly related to support being provided in a peer-led model.

A new version of the program in the Limestone Coast region has been funded by South Australia Health and is expected to start providing service in March 2023.

The program will be staffed by Mind Peer Practitioners – qualified mental health practitioners who have their own lived experience of mental ill-health which they draw upon to provide hope, empathy and encourage trust in a client’s recovery journey. 

They also support individuals and their families to establish relationships with key service providers to ensure an integrated suite of supports are available to meet their identified needs.

“Practitioners with a lived experience of mental ill-health have a unique ability to gain the trust of clients and inspire the confidence needed to take positive steps in their mental health recovery journey,” Mary Streatfield, Mind’s Acting Executive Director of Operations for South Australia, said.

“Peer practitioners can role-model their own recovery including what they do to manage their wellbeing and what they do when things aren’t going well. People with similar lived experience can offer each other practical advice and suggestions for strategies that professionals may not offer or even know about.”

Connect participants can receive support face-to-face, through online or telephone support, or a combination of the three, for up to 12 weeks.

Connect – Mount Gambier participants will also have access to Mind’s My Better Life recovery tool. This is a co-designed, evidence-based program that helps people experiencing mental health challenges to identify and then achieve their personal recovery goals.

Once participants have transitioned into community settings, they can also access the award-winning Mind Recovery College – a suite of psychoeducation courses designed and delivered by people with lived experience, to support them in their recovery journeys.

Mind CEO Gill Callister said peer-led psychosocial support services – like Connect – Mount Gambier and the Mind Recovery College – are vital within the mental health system.

“Mind’s psychosocial support services engender hope for clients, that they can live a life of purpose on their terms,” Ms Callister said.

“Mind is a leader in peer and lived experience innovation. We support and contribute to new approaches of service design that are led by people with lived experience of mental ill-health.

“We applaud the South Australian government for investing in this vital alternative to an Emergency Department or hospital presentation for people experiencing psychological distress.”

Psychosocial supports – like the kind provided by Mind – help people with mental health and wellbeing issues manage daily activities, rebuild and maintain connections, engage with education and employment, and participate fully in the community. These are supports which help people take positive steps in their recovery journey.

If this article raises concerns for you, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders can also call 13 YARN (13 92 76) a 24/7 national crisis support telephone service staffed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

For more information on Mind support services near you, contact us via Mind Connect or phone: 1300 286 463.