Authors: Susanne Reynolds, Catherine Brown, Michael Fasher, Elizabeth Kristensen, Elisabeth Manning, Ganapathi Murugesan, Di O’Halloran, Graeme Whatmough
Event: 2001 TheMHS Conference
Subject: book of proceedings, GP Shared Mental Health Care, General Practitioners, Mental Health Bridges
Type of resource: Conference Presentations and Papers
Abstract: Partnerships between specialised mental health services and primary services is of critical importance in achieving improved mental health outcomes according to Australia’s Second National Mental Health Plan (1998). This paper will document and appraise the process of partnership building between the Western Sydney Division of General Practice (WSDGP) and Western Sydney Area Mental Health Service (WSAMHS). To help implement the National Plan, designated funding for mental health services to develop a partnership with GPs was allocated to Area Health Services in NSW. The strategic plans of both the WSDGP and WSAMHS identified mental health partnerships as a priority thus giving further impetus to the process.
Having formed a Liaison Committee, co-chaired by the Director of the Mental Health Service and the President of the Division, the need for joint consultation with the mental health staff and GPs was identified. This process identified issues and strategies for working together, and these were incorporated into a two-year plan. A GP Liaison Officer was appointed by WSAMHS to help implement the plan. Initiatives so far have involved: joint planning; joint education; provision of information to GPs on mental health services; establishment of baseline communication patterns between mental health services and GPs; and working towards shared care.
The GP-Mental Health Partnership is founded on a formal relationship between the WSDGP and WSAMHS, and is using multiple strategies to systematically improve the working relationship between primary and specialised mental health service providers with the ultimate outcome of improving mental health services for local communities.