The initiatives from the mental health care teams in 2020-21 speak to the ongoing commitment of AWH to provide timely, accessible and high-quality mental health services to all age groups across our region. We have seen investments in infrastructure, models of care and delivery, as well as specialised services to meet the growing demands from our community. 

ACIS single point of contact

Author: Dannielle McLeish, Acting Operational Director, ACMHS

Prior to July 2020, Access and Entry to Albury Wodonga Health Mental Health service (AWH MH) was undertaken via seven different programs, across three regional towns and multiple outlying rural services. The significant geographical spread of the service and multiple integration processes within the Mental Health service had contributed to numerous and significant inconsistencies in clinical and non-clinical processes and of most concern the lack of a single point of governance and oversight.

The 1st July 2020 saw the commencement of the single point of entry into our AWH MH services with the operationalization of the new Acute Community Intervention Service (ACIS). In the context of the AWH Mental Health Service Redesign, the ACIS was formed to provide timely, specialist mental health assessment and response, and equitable access to the AWH MH Service. The ACIS operates from two hubs; a Northern (Albury-Wodonga) and Southern (Wangaratta) and provides a range of services to facilitate ease of access for our community.

The ACIS includes:

  • A 24 hour, 7 day/week telephone triage for all consumers in the Albury Wodonga Health –Mental Health catchment area who experience complex mental health issues.
  • Provision of mental health assessment and management to patients presenting to the Emergency Departments at Northeast Health Wangaratta and Albury-Wodonga Health.
  • Provide the Mental Health & Police/Ambulance function to the Albury-Wodonga and Wangaratta communities. Provide MH Consultation Liaison services to Albury Wodonga Health
  • Provide therapeutic brief intervention (up to 6 weeks)
  • Hospital Outreach Post-Suicidal Engagement (HOPE) program
  • Culturally sensitive practices and processes and dual diagnosis capability.
  • Telehealth Mental Health assessment service where face to face assessment is not possible

Operationalising a new service several months into a pandemic brought with it many challenges however, the enthusiastic ACIS team along with the support of the wider mental health service system ensured its establishment.

Fifteen months on and the team is currently reviewing and finalising the Operational Guidelines ensuring the new team is meeting the needs of the community in the ever changing world we live in. Congratulations to the ACIS team on your first year of operations and we look forward to seeing the service continue to develop and grow.

Child and Youth Mental Health Service

Author: Winnie McCullough, Manager, Child and Youth Mental Health Service

In March 2021, the Child and Youth Mental Health Service (CYMHS) commenced Single Session Clinic (SSC) for clients/families referred to the service. This initiative was implemented and led by CAMHS manager, with the operational support of Albury Wodonga Health. The SSC involved employing a Senior Clinician, with experience in family systems practice, into a dedicated position to coordinate and run the clinic. Utilising an experienced senior clinician was a positive step to ensuring the clinic ran effectively and was able to respond to clients and families in a timely manner that was satisfactory to the predetermined goals. In addition, the clinicians involved in providing the SSC, and engaged in other CAMHS commitments, were not compromising their current caseloads.

Single Session Treatment (SST) is an approach formulated to optimise the possibilities inherent in a single session. It is a strength based, solution, and reflective focused approach, that is client/family directed and responsive to the present.

How does the process work?

The process involves a pre-session questionnaire, longer than a “normal” face-to-face session with the addition of a reflective team response. At the conclusion a follow-up phone call, approximately two weeks post session, is activated. Pre and post evaluation of the process is incorporated using a Survey Monkey evaluation tool which is electronically and securely distributed to the participating families.

SST practice relies on the clients/families as the experts in reporting, what kind, and how much, change is important for them at any particular time. It does however, leave the door open if clients require or request further case management. Not all clients/families will be appropriate for SSC work i.e. those presenting with acute risk, or acute psychosis. The majority of clients and families who meet the practice criteria, will be offered this service as an alternative option to the traditional longer term comprehensive assessment and support packages.

National and global research and feedback from participating SSC clients/families, suggests that 80 percent of clients/families are satisfied with the service and up to 50 percent decided they do not require further intervention.

SST is recognised as an effective process to manage demand and maximise efficient allocation of resources. It is also an exciting and energising way to work with families and increase the skill base of clinicians working with clients in all areas of mental health.

From our work to date – (mid-March to current) we have processed 43 referrals to the SSC. Families have been seen across Wodonga and Wangaratta sites on a dedicated day each week.

Of the 43 referrals; 31 families have participated, resulting in 20 not requiring further follow up. Three families have had second SSC appointments, two have been allocated for ongoing case management. Six remain open, pending follow up phone calls. Twelve families declined the service.

Feedback from the participating families has been generally very positive. All those attending, verbally reported enjoying the experience of multiple clinicians and receiving immediate verbal feedback, and follow up written feedback, to both the family and their GP. The idea of commitment for a single appointment has been well received with all family members feeling able to commit, with the need to take limited time away from work or school.

Feedback from the clinicians involved in the program, has also been very positive. The enthusiasm and energy experienced on the SSC day, the feeling of being well supported in seeing complicated families, and the transfer of skills learned across other areas of more individual clinical practice were evident and notable.

We have now begun to change some of the initial SSC clinicians to include a variety of CAMHS clinicians. This will expand overall knowledge and skill sets across the team and help embed the use of SSC as a core service offered by CYMHS in line with The Royal Commission into mental health, recommendations for Infant, Child and Youth Area Mental Health and Wellbeing Services.

Community Mental Health - Brain and Mind Centre

Author: Dannielle McLeish, Acting Operational Director, ACMHS

The beginning of 2020 brought with it the opening of a new era with Albury Community Mental Health Services moving from their long term home at Townsend St into a newly refurbished building, purpose built for contemporary community mental health care.

Brain and Mind is co-located on the first floor of the Mercy Hospital on the corner of Poole and Kiewa Street, Albury. Older Person’s Mental Health, Child and Adolescent Mental Health, Adult Mental Health and Northern Hub Acute Community and Intervention Service (ACIS) are co-located at Brain and Mind.

Wood paneling, new furniture and fresh fixtures and fittings all contribute to the contemporary feel. Work is continuing to secure funding to increase the Brain and Mind footprint to expand office space on level 2 to accommodate the growing mental health workforce. Watch this space.

Child and Youth Mental Health Service

Brain and Mind Centre

Child and Youth Mental Health Service