Near-RAH Urgent Mental Health Centre One Step Closer

Thousands of South Australians needing urgent mental health assistance are one step closer to benefitting from cutting edge out-of-hospital care option with community-based organisation, Neami National, selected as the service provider of the new Urgent Mental Health Care Centre (UMHCC).

Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade, said the UMHCC will be one of the first of its kind in the nation and provide people experiencing urgent mental health needs with an alternative option to presenting to a hospital Emergency Department (ED).

“The Marshall Liberal Government is committed to providing better services, closer to home, and establishing this new centre will help deliver on that commitment while also easing pressure on our hospital emergency departments,” Minister Wade said.

“The UMHCC will be established in the CBD and will link people with community mental health services and non-government mental health crisis services that can provide follow-up care at home or in the community.

Not-for-profit organisation, Neami, has a long history of delivering mental health supports that are tailored to meet individual and community needs and was selected through an open tender process released earlier this year.

Neami will deliver the service in partnership with RI International, international leaders in evidence-based services responding to people in mental health and suicidal crises.

“Neami is committed to employing a number of staff with lived experience of mental illness, working collaboratively with mental health clinicians to better engage with people experiencing distress,” Minister Wade said.

“By delivering best practice crisis care, the UMHCC will not only reduce pressure on our emergency departments but also reduce the time people seeking urgent help need to wait for care, freeing up hospital space and improving patient flow.

“This new initiative will add to and link with the valuable work already done by staff of our current local health network and non-government services.”

The Centre will complement the Marshall Liberal Government’s landmark $1 billion health infrastructure commitment which is upgrading every major metro suburban hospital emergency department, excluding only the RAH.

To access the service, people will initially need a referral from SA Ambulance Service, SA Police or the mental health crisis telephone service. In time the Centre will provide walk-in support for people who self-present.

South Australia’s Chief Psychiatrist, Dr John Brayley, said Neami with RI International will deliver a model consistent with the 2020-2025 Mental Health Services Plan which links crisis care with suicide prevention strategies.

“The Centre will be engaging and welcoming to people in distress, have a strong commitment to suicide prevention, have a significant peer workforce to engage with people, and will be committed to the safety of the people who use the service, and the staff who provide it,” Dr Brayley said.

“Neami will apply a ‘living room model’ that has been successfully implemented in a number of US cities by RI international. People will not wait in cubicles, but be supported in a lounge environment, with interviews occurring in private purpose designed rooms. This will be a very different design to the current ED model.”

“Through the establishment of the UMHCC, Neami will aim to help reduce distress, gain an understanding of the causes of the crisis, and what can be done to best support each person, and their family and friend carers in this warm and welcoming ‘homelike’ environment.

“Neami with their partners RI international are uniquely placed to co-design a crisis-intervention service with a strong suicide prevention focus, and I am looking forward to working with them to bring the UMHCC to the South Australian community.”

The UMHCC is expected to have a phased opening in coming months and will operate 12 hours a day, seven days a week.

The UMHCC is funded through a $14 million capital and operating investment by the Federal Government.

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