Focus on severe mental illness

A LATROBE Valley mental health service will be better equipped to assist those with a severe and persistent mental illness after securing $100,000 in Federal Government funding.

Gippsland Medicare Local has allocated the funds to Mind Australia which will work with people with a severe mental illness to build care plans.

“This funding is targeted at people who have severe mental illness or the potential for the mental illness to become severe and we want to intervene and support them in order to try and keep them healthy and functioning in the community,” Gippsland Medicare Local chair Dr Nola Maxfield said.

The funding is part of GML’s Partners in Recovery initiative, which aims to ensure the multiple health care services available to people with a mental illness are working more collaboratively.

Mind will use the money to employ a staff member to assist people with a severe mental illness who have complex needs.

“The worker will essentially be a reference point to coordinating all of the different services that are wrapped around that particular person,” Mind general manager southeast division Heather Thompson said.

“A care plan will be developed with the client and those who are the important people that can support them, as well as working closely with the client’s family.”

Clients will be referred to the service from other mental health organisations in the Latrobe Valley and Mind will also identify those within its own client base who will benefit.

Ms Thompson said employing a dedicated coordinator, would allow Mind staff assisting people with a severe and persistent mental illness to focus on weekly support.

“At the moment we’ve got workers on the ground that are trying to juggle all of that (coordination) as well as providing weekly emotional support and working with all the activities that person might need to engage in,” she said.

“Mental illness in Latrobe Valley, as anywhere else, has significant impact on people’s lives and I think there’s a significant disadvantage in Gippsland and because of the size of Gippsland, a lot of people that are hard to reach.”

Mind has been providing mental health services in Gippsland for the past 25 years.