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New Service Tackles Mental Health Issues Head-On

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Regional Australia, including the Bowen Basin, has been hit hard by the impacts of COVID-19 with data from the Australian Institute for Health and Welfare showing a dramatic increase in demand for mental health services.

Tackling mental health issues head on, and with the very generous support of local mining company Mitsubishi Development, Wesley Medical Research has commenced phase two of a three-phase research program which sets out to enhance access to mental health services and improve outcomes for those living in the Bowen Basin.

Wesley Medical Research CEO, Dr Claudia Giurgiuman, said a recent report by PwC and wellbeing company Sonder expected the national productivity cost of the COVID-19 pandemic to exceed $20 billion a year due to projected increases in psychological distress, suicide, and hospitalisations.

Tragically the report highlights greatest impacts are being felt amongst the young and those living and working in rural and regional Australia.

“Unfortunately, in the Bowen Basin we are seeing increasing demand for mental health support which simply hasn’t been there due to challenges of funding, delivery and staffing,” Senior Vice President of Mitsubishi Development said. “So we are thrilled to be funding this work,” he continued.

Dr Giurgiuman said that a lower socioeconomic profile, as well as higher rates of homelessness, drugs and alcohol, and domestic violence puts people from this region at a greater risk of reduced mental health outcomes.

“The good news is that thanks to the unwavering and generous support from Mitsubishi Development, we have reached out directly to the Bowen Basin community to design a program that works for them. Through our work in collaboration with the Queensland University of Technology’s Australian Centre for Health Services Innovation, solid steps are being taken to remedy the mental health situation in the region before it’s too late and more lives are lost to suicide.”

Dr Giurgiuman said following extensive consultation with key stakeholders, a new Layered Mental Health Care Navigation Model had been developed, known as Navicare.

Ribbon being cut to open Navicare service.
(Left to right) Wesley Medical Research CEO Dr Claudia Giurgiuman, Isaac Regional Council Mayor Anne Baker, and Senior Vice President of Mitsubishi Development open Isaac Navicare with a ribbon cutting ceremony.

Navicare will integrate existing mental health services and providers with new ones and includes a Care Navigation Team, plus the establishment of a Physical Hub and a Virtual Hub with information services.

“The purpose of Navicare is to connect help-seekers with the support they need,” she said.

“We have employed a Mental Health Care Navigator in the Isaac Region to provide much-needed support, while also promoting education and awareness of mental health services. In addition, this specialist will assist with telehealth appointments, co-ordinate case management with providers and link help-seekers with local healthcare partners and networks.

Navicare is about offering help-seekers the support and practical assistance they need, to find their way around the health system.

“It’s about providing guidance to the right care, for the right person, at the right place and time.”

This research was made possibly through the COVID-19 Rapid Response Research Centre.

Contact the team at news@wesleyresearch.org.au to find out more.

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