New dedicated mental health GP liaison program

A new program helping GPs to connect with Community Mental Health Services (CMHS) is being piloted.

The new Mental Health GP Liaisons can help provide GPs with timely advice on care options for consumers presenting with mental health related issues.

This includes help with identifying barriers to transfer or share care of consumers experiencing both complex and chronic mental health issues and the development of standardised systems for transfer/shared care.

“We certainly recognise it can be tricky for GPs to know where to go, so we have introduced two dedicated mental health GP Liaisons to be a point of contact,” Central Adelaide LHN Mental Health Nursing Lead, Lesley Legg, said.

“By responding with the right specialist care we are able to deliver a better service to consumers with mental health conditions in the community.

“The aim of the role is also to enable and support GPs to provide care to the consumer in a GP setting, where appropriate.

“If a consumer can be diverted away from a hospital emergency department towards more appropriate care in the community, that is a great outcome for the consumer and those involved.”

There are currently two Mental Health GP Liaisons; one who supports Eastern Community Mental Health Services (ECMHS) and another who supports Western Community Mental Health Services (WCMHS). The catchment areas are defined by where a consumer lives.

Mental Health GP Liaisons
Clinical Nurse and GP Liaison for Eastern CMHS, Sally McKinnon, said the role is helping support some of the State’s most vulnerable.

“People with mental illness have an average life expectancy of 20 years less than that of the general population,” Sally said.

“A recent study attributed the main cause of natural death in this population to be related to cardiovascular disease and we know that 50 per cent of people in this group have metabolic syndrome.

“So by supporting clients to build lasting relationships with their GP, ideally we will see these potentially fatal health concerns addressed as they arise. The roll-on effect of this will hopefully be that we see improvements to life expectancy and quality of life.

“We’re aware that many GPs are seeing patients with mental health concerns related to the stressful climate that we all find ourselves in, and I have found those I have been in contact with are very open to building on the relationships between themselves, our shared clients and ECMHS.

“I hold onto hope that by working together we can work towards improving outcomes for this population.”

*Pictured are Sally McKinnon and Neil Dickinson.


Sally McKinnon
Clinical Nurse / GP Liaison
Eastern Mental Health Services
172 Glynburn Road, Tranmere, SA 5073
(08) 7425 5555

Neil Dickinson
Clinical Nurse / GP Liaison
Western Mental Health Services
57 Woodville Road, Woodville, SA 5011
(08) 7425 3800