17 March 2022
Mind Australia’s new Connect program is providing an important alternative to hospitalisation and Emergency Department presentations. The program is for South Australians experiencing mental and psychological distress and/or suicidality.
The program 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.
More than 95 clients have been referred to the program since it began in July 2021, reducing the impact on Emergency Departments (EDs), Acute Inpatient units and the South Australian Ambulance Service.
Clients are referred to Connect by EDs, acute inpatient units and the ambulance service and are supported to develop the skills to better manage their mental health challenges in the community, reducing the likelihood of future crisis and hospitalisations.
Mind is delivering the Connect program in the northern suburbs of Adelaide, in a proof of concept program funded by North Adelaide Local Health Network.
The program is fully staffed by Peer Practitioners – qualified Mind mental health practitioners who have their own lived experience of mental ill-health. They provide 12 weeks of support to individuals experiencing mental and psychological distress and/or suicidality, and their families.
The practitioners also support individuals and their families to establish relationships with key service providers to ensure an integrated suite of supports is available to meet their identified needs.
Participants can receive support face-to-face, through virtual platforms or telephone support, or a combination of the three.
Quotes attributable to Selina (not pictured above/below) (no surname please) – Connect participant
- 59 years old.
- From the northern suburbs of Adelaide.
- Selina has a diagnosis of Complex PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and a long history of chronic pain.
- Selina has previously attempted suicide and visited Emergency Departments seeking support
- Please note Selina does not want to be pictured in the media
“I knew I was at risk of suiciding. I had all the drugs I needed to do it - antidepressants, pain management, blood medications. I went to the ED and I sat there for seven and a half hours in a complete mess in the waiting area. I asked them how much longer it would be and they said it could be another seven or eight hours so I gave up and went home. I tried every help line there was but I couldn’t get through to anyone.
“After that I was sent to a clinic for six weeks, but into the public part, so there was no psychiatrist. I was just discharged after that and there was no follow up for six weeks. Eventually I got referred to Northern Community Mental Health and they referred me to Connect.
“Connect has been very helpful. It’s good to be able to talk to someone about the emotions of dealing with family relationships. Kris (Selina’s support worker) has been down that road as well with depression and family issues, so she gets it.”
Quotes attributable to Mind Australia Executive Director for South Australia Denise Cumming
“Mind Australia is delivering this much needed program in partnership with the North Adelaide Local Health Network.
“South Australia needs more programs like this to fill the gaps in the state’s mental health system.
“The Mental Health Coalition of South Australia’s advocacy campaign has highlighted how too many people in South Australia end up in hospital or at Emergency Departments in crisis because of a lack of in-community support services in the current system.
“Currently, 15 per cent of people discharged from hospitals for mental ill-health in South Australia are readmitted within 28 days of discharge. Support services in the community, like the Connect program, are the missing link that can help people achieve sustained recovery.”
Quotes attributable to Kristen Redden, Selina’s Peer Practitioner, Mind Australia
“At Connect our overarching goal is to help clients find strategies to be able to better manage their mental health when they are in crisis, so they don’t have to resort to presenting to an Emergency Department.
“Selena and I have worked on what to do when she is in crisis - recognising when her distress is escalating and how to regulate her emotions when that’s happening.”
Quote attributable to Brett Williams, General Manager South Australia, Mind Australia
“All the staff involved with the Connect program, from myself through to the service delivery practitioners, have a lived experience of mental illness and recovery. This shared experience engenders hope, creates empathy between the client and their support worker and can fast track trust.
“We believe it provides a blueprint for the delivery of services provided by peers who can walk as equals with clients on a recovery journey of their own choosing.”
Quote attributable to Shaun Sweeney, Interim Director of Allied Health, Mental Health, Northern Adelaide Local Health Network
“The Connect Program has been significant to supporting people in crisis to maintain their recovery in their community. For our service users it has proven to be an excellent alternative to being in a hospital setting and has helped to ensure that people experiencing a mental health crisis have the links they need to sustainably remain well.”
About Mind Australia
Mind is one of Australia’s leading community-managed specialist mental health service providers with a range of residential, mobile outreach, centre based and online services. We have been
supporting people living with the day-to-day impacts of mental illness, as well as their families, friends and carers for more than 40 years.
We provide practical and motivational support that helps people to develop the skills they need to move on, thrive and improve the quality of their lives. We also work with people to address poverty, housing, education and employment.
We deliver our support services in ways that are flexible and offer genuine choice and control.
For more information or to arrange an interview with Mind Executive Director SA Denise Cumming or a Mind representative, please contact Mind Communications Manager Max McLean at [email protected] or on 0497 333 545.