The Australian Government has invested $26.9 million to establish a central phone intake service and an initial 15 HeadtoHelp hubs as part of the Australian Government’s $31.9 million mental health package to further enhance the mental health support available to Victorians during the COVID-19 pandemic. HeadtoHelp hubs are funded for 12 months.
The HeadtoHelp central intake and hubs are operated by Primary Health Networks (PHNs) in cooperation with existing health services. The unique HeadtoHelp model of care has been jointly developed by Victoria’s Primary Health Networks in collaboration with the Australian Government. PHNs are primarily funded by the Australian Government to improve health care and support people receive from health services.
The HeadtoHelp model draws upon insights from consultations conducted by PHNs with people with lived experience of mental illness, consumers, clinicians and other experts. HeadtoHelp is person-centred, recovery oriented and evidence-based, reflecting PHNs’ commitment to these principles. HeadtoHelp comprises a central phone intake plus 15 mental health hubs located across Victoria.
HeadtoHelp uses the Initial Assessment and Referral Decision Support Tool (IAR-DST) – this is a series of clinical and social questions that help the trained intake team understand a person’s needs and what type of support or services will best help. A caller may be referred to existing services or if there is no existing service that is suitable, to one of the 15 HeadtoHelp hubs which offer a multidisplinary team to help with more complex mental health needs.
HeadtoHelp is a unique service, and the first state-wide step towards integrating the mental health system and coordinating care for people, when and where they need it most.
All of the HeadtoHelp services are provided free of discrimination based on age, race, gender identity, sexuality, religious or political belief or activity or any other characteristic possessed or assumed as protected under Victorian and Australian anti-discrimination law.
Advice and services provide by HeadtoHelp hubs are provided free to all Victorians. HeadtoHelp may however provide advice and refer people to support and/or services that require payment of a professional fee. These services are not included in the no-cost service provided by HeadtoHelp.
An Australian and Victorian government collaboration
The rapid establishment of the clinics has been overseen by a joint federal and Victorian Mental Health Pandemic Response Taskforce co-chaired by Dr Ruth Vine, the Australian Government Deputy Chief Medical Officer for Mental Health, and Pam Anders, CEO Mental Health Reform Victoria. “It’s been a very collaborative effort with the Victorian Government, the PHNs, the Area Mental Health Services to provide these clinics” Dr Vine said.