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PACFA provides input to the development of Adult Mental Health Centres 

PACFA recently participated in a national consultation process on the development of eight Adult Mental Health Centres across Australia.

The new Centres, funded by the Australian Government as a trial initiative, are intended to provide a welcoming, low stigma, point of entry for adults to access mental health information, services and supports and to complement mental health services already provided in the community. A Centre will be established in each state and territory, coordinated by existing Primary Health Networks in all locations except South Australia, where the new Centre will be established by the SA Department of Health.

Our input focuses on the core recommendation that Counsellors and Psychotherapists be recognised as valuable members of the workforce in Adult Mental Health Centres.

The draft principles and service model for the new Centres note that they are intended to provide a holistic model of care and inform and empower clients. To achieve this aim, each of the new Centres should staffed by a diverse and skilled workforce, yet Counsellors and Psychotherapists have been omitted from the list of professions to be included in the workforce for the Centres.

PACFA’s response also emphasises the importance of recovery-oriented approaches to mental health service delivery. We note that the “episode of care” service model planned for the new Centres overlooks the importance of continuity of care and establishing trusted therapeutic relationships and may fail to meet the needs of some clients.

We recommend a greater emphasis on the provision of services to support the social and emotional well-being of clients, in addition to the medical interventions, structured psychological therapies and short-term interventions for specific client groups outlined in the draft service model.

Our response also recommends a greater emphasis on empowering clients to self-manage or co-manage their conditions and highlights the importance of implementing trauma-informed practice, policies and processes in the new Centres.

PACFA will continue to advocate for the recognition of Counsellors and Psychotherapists as skilled members of the Mental Health Workforce at every opportunity and will keep members up to date on the development of the new Adult Mental Health Centres.