In January, MHFFTas represented Tasmanian mental health and AOD families and friends at the National Forum addressing the Better Access, Mental Health Equity and Access Evaluation, which is the service that provides up to 10 Medicare rebated sessions with psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, and occupational therapists for psychosocial support. We developed and provided a submission paper to that evaluation report, which can be found here.
At the forum, we advocated a number of key messages directly to the Minister of Health Mark Butler, and Assistant Minister for Mental Health and Rural and Regional Health, Emma McBride. Those messages include:
- The need to recognise and support the families and friends who the primary and sole supports, and at times keep those they support alive, as a result of the extensive wait times, or services being too expensive to access.
- Recognising that the new IAR-DST tool is a good way for professionals to use to assess and refer consumers, however, it takes into account whether or not the consumer has family and friend support to judge the level of need and urgency; again relying on families and friends to support their loved ones in challenging times, with little or no support.
- The use of Digital Interventions and supports are wonderful and a great resource available to people, however, it also assumes that everyone who might benefit from them has access to an internet connection, and the capacity to use digital technology. It is also not communicated well enough to GPs and the wider community the benefits of assessing clinical and allied health services, and what the services are.
- GPs and other clinicians use their “clinical judgment” regarding referrals and assessment; however, we advocate that to make an informed judgment, clinicians need to listen to and consider the experiences and knowledge of families and friends also.
- That the adoption of the Triangle of Care in all service provision, including GPs, places families and friends, the individual, and the service provider as equally vital partners in a person’s recovery, and all have individual needs to be able to support the person.
- When the Ministers acknowledge the lived experience, ensure they also acknowledge the lived experience of families and friends, and the invaluable support they provide to consumers, and service providers.