Mental health support for those experiencing homelessness

A new pilot program is supporting South Australia’s most vulnerable with better access to mental health care.

In a partnership with Baptist Care, people experiencing homelessness and accessing services at Baptist Care’s WestCare Centre will have access to mental health care and support through an in-reach service provided by the Central Adelaide Local Health Network (CALHN).

The program aims to help mental health providers engage members of the community who are often difficult to reach.

“Our staff have extensive experience working with mental health patients who often have complex and difficult needs,” CALHN Mental Health Program Service Manager, Alison Pickering, said.

“We know that people experiencing homelessness often find it difficult to link to long-term treatment and support programs.

“This alternative approach will help us reach more people earlier.  Often people only seek help when they are experiencing a mental health crisis; we want to help people needing care to access the right care in the right place for them.”

CALHN will also work closely with WestCare Centre staff to build their skills and provide guidance on the symptoms and treatment options for mental illness, so those suffering can be detected and offered support and treatment as quickly as possible.

Better access to the right mental health support will improve long-term outcomes for homeless people.

“Baptist Care SA provides support to some of the city’s most vulnerable residents,” Baptist Care SA’s Manager, Inner City and WestCare, Stefano Tocci, said.

“We’ve been offering a safe place for more than 100 years and our goal is always to offer solutions that will lead to improved living conditions for those who connect with us.

“Almost three-quarters of people sleeping rough in Adelaide live with mental illness and, undiagnosed or untreated, this is often a barrier to accessing services that could help them find housing.

“This collaboration, and the streamlining of access to mental health treatment, will greatly improve the health and wellbeing of those who need it the most.”

Staff from CALHN’s Eastern Community Mental Health Service will provide in-reach services at Baptist Care every Tuesday and Thursday morning.

Pictured are Marius Di Plotti, Inge Stevenson, Stefano Tocci and Lennard Buxton at Baptist Care’s WestCare Centre. Picture courtesy of The Advertiser.