Mental Health Carers NSW (MHCN) is concerned that there is a lack of both transitional services available to help connect families and the young person they care for with community based mental health services after being discharged from acute mental health units, as well as a lack of ongoing community mental health services.
MHCN supports the development and implementation of ‘transitional’ services for people moving between care providers including acute in-patient and community mental health services and also supports the expansion of both acute and community based services to meet the needs of the whole population based on demographic profiles and analysis.
The days and weeks following discharge are absolutely critical transitional periods in maintaining recovery and, more often than not, consumers and carers are not receiving specific transitional support on discharge to cope with the resumption of life in the community. Worse, they are often waiting weeks, sometimes months, before they are connected with ongoing community mental health services. During this period, the young person may be vulnerable to a recurrence of their illness and therefore a hospital re-admission.
Many acute mental health units run day programs and classes that teach consumers useful life skills, provide consumers with access to exercise equipment, and facilitate social opportunitiesfor young people to develop their interpersonal skills to help the recovery process. However, once the young person has been discharged from an acute mental health unit, they no longer have immediate access to the activities that were aiding their recovery and helping them to manage their mental health issues.
Thus, while MHCN acknowledges that there are some community based services that adequately meet consumers’ needs, there are not enough to meet the needs of all requiring them and in some cases too much time is allowed to pass between discharge and contact by follow-up services. It is this disconnect that MHCN is concerned with, as it places young people at risk of relapse and re-admission.
MHCN also notes the development of a ‘Draft Guideline – Supporting transitions for young people moving on from specialist child, adolescent and youth mental health care to adult mental health care’, by NSW Health dealing with some similar issues for younger people’s mental health services and endorses its intent and supports its completion.
Click the following link to view MHCN’s Position Statement on Transition Programs for Youth Leaving Acute Mental Health Units into Community Based Services.