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R U OK? New atlas to help find mental health services

2 September 2016
Navigating the mental health system

Planners hope a new Mental Health Atlas of the Central and Eastern Sydney Primary Health Networks Region will help people find appropriate mental health services more quickly.

Launched by NSW Mental Health Commissioner John Feneley the Mental Health Atlas is available for public comment for the next two months before a final revised version is published by year’s end.

The Atlas is a comprehensive digest of mental health and related services in Central and Eastern Sydney, an area with a population of 1.4 million spread across nearly 700 square kilometres.

Critically, Health Atlases also enable comparisons within and between health service providers, helping to spotlight variations in care and gaps in service provision. They can also aid the planning and commissioning of new services based on social, demographic and health-related needs.

We know that the mental health system can be difficult to navigate for consumers and families.
John Feneley, NSW Mental Health Commissioner

The creation of a new Mental Health Atlas for Central and Eastern Sydney is part of a national and international effort to ensure health services provides a consistent way to classify and geo-locate the range of mental health services available.

The development of the new Mental Health Atlas was led by Professor Luis Salvador-Carulla and research coordinator Cailin Maas and funded by Partners in Recovery Inner West Sydney, Partners in Recovery Eastern Sydney and Partners in Recovery South Eastern Sydney.

“The Atlases will aid comparisons between small health areas, highlighting variations of care, and help detect gaps in the provision of services for the benefit of planners, decision makers and others involved in mental health service planning,” said Professor Salvador-Carulla, who heads the Mental Health Policy Unit at the Brain and Mind Centre.

In line with recommendations from the recent National Review of Mental Health Programmes and Services, the Atlases will also allow a better understanding of local services to feed into the development of mental health policy at the national level.

NSW Mental Health Commissioner John Feneley said: “We know that the mental health system can be difficult to navigate for consumers and families. It can also be the case for service providers and decision makers trying to plan services, particularly with complex areas,” he said.

“The Atlas allows us to identify strengths and gaps in the system at a local level through a rigorous classification and mapping system. The knowledge we gain flows into local service planning to improve mental health services across NSW.”

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