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Mental Health Month sees the launch of Strong Minds Western NSW

Strong Minds Western NSW is set to replace two existing Australian Government mental health initiatives to provide access to effective, low-cost treatment for people with mild to moderate mental illness. This project starts in October, which is Mental Health Month in NSW (http://mentalhealthmonth.wayahead.org.au/).

Western NSW Primary Health Network (WNSW PHN) has appointed Marathon Health to provide psychological therapy services for under-serviced groups under a new model from the start of next month, with a focus on access and availability. Funding of $2.495 million has been committed for the first nine months of this program.

Marathon Health has provided a range of mental health services to 28 communities since 2012 and now will expand its reach under the new service. Strong Minds Western NSW will support people who are underserviced through existing mental health programs due to isolation or other factors. The service is delivered in a variety of forms for people of all ages and including services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and people with perinatal depression. At least 60% of consultations across the region will be provided face-to-face with the remaining using telehealth.

Member for Parkes, Mark Coulton is supportive of the new services which will provide important support for residents of the Parkes electorate.

“There are pressing mental health issues in many communities in Western NSW. The Australian Government is committed to providing appropriate mental health services that can be accessed by regional and remote communities, particularly in early intervention.”

Strong Minds Western NSW will replace the Access to Allied Psychological Service (ATAPS) and Mental Health Services to Rural and Remote Areas (MHSRRA) programs with WNSW PHN and Marathon Health seeing it as being highly beneficial for communities across NSW.

Marathon Health’s Executive of Health Services, Bryan Hoolahan says people living in rural and remote NSW have significant mental health concerns, and access issues due to geographical barriers.

“Our primary focus with the delivery of Strong Minds is to work with communities to provide easily accessible, high quality mental health services. Marathon Health has extensive experience in delivering mental health programs to regional and remote communities. Our staff and other health partner providers work hard to bridge the gaps in access to health services, and we are pleased to be able to offer Strong Minds Western NSW to our communities.”

WNSW PHN CEO, Andrew Harvey, says mental health service providers in Western NSW, in collaboration with WNSW PHN, GPs and other health professionals, health organisations, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations and consumers, will contribute to the development of future service arrangements, resulting in a plan detailing the model of service for all mental health services funded by the WNSW PHN.

Current service providers will continue to operate under a transition period through until 1 October 2017.

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