Authors: Greater Southern Area Health Service (Formerly Southern Area Section) – MHS
Event: 2005 TheMHS Awards
Type of resource: TheMHS Awards
Award state: NSW
Award level: Winner
Award category: Family and Carer Support Program
Abstract: This program supports and complements the work of the mental health clinical teams in a diverse rural area by working to improve the well-being of families and other carers plus people experiencing mental illness. This is achieved through the provision of psycho-education and group support to families and the facilitation of practical, emotional and community support. The program provides information, education and assistance to health service providers, educational organisations, community agencies, service clubs and community groups. The program aims to increase mental health literacy and thereby increase local community capacity to respond effectively to the needs of families and carers. The program provides a sustainable, cost efficient and effective service to diverse communities. It operates on the principle of acknowledging that families, carers and communities add genuine value to health service delivery and by providing support and education to these groups, the health and well being of these families will be improved and by providing education and information to communities, stigma to people with mental illness will be reduced. Description of Facility/Organisation: The Family and Carer Support Program is funded to $115K per year by the NSW Dept of Health through the Centre for Mental Health. The Project was originally established only within the Queanbeyan/Monaro Sector of the former Southern Area Health Service (SAHS) in 2002, but was adapted to be applied to the whole Area in 2003. The former SAHS has now been amalgamated with the Greater Murray AHS, however at present the program continues only to function in the former Southern Area. The funds and the governance are controlled by the Mental Health Services of the Former SAHS with a Management Committee comprising local Mental Health Service senior staff, (one of whom chairs and is budget holder), local agencies, ARAFMI, carers and consumers. The former SAHS covers 52,200 square kilometres with a population of 187117. To the east the border is the ocean from Batemans Bay to Eden, the north; Young, Boorowa, Crookwell, the south; the Victorian border, the west; the Snowy and Brindabella Mountains. The Area does not include the ACT. The Program has a coordinator (three day a week consultant), two part time family and carer support workers and casual administrative staff and conducts a Student Training Unit which supervises up to 10 students per year from universities, TAFEs and other colleges. The program presently covers 9 towns. During 2004 the program conducted 124 community education programs/groups, to a total attendance of over 1500, contacting over 600 families, with over 90 items in local press, 137 attendances to the young people’s program and answered 586 phone inquiries.