Helen Macpherson Smith Trust

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Case Study: Monash University

ProjectA holistic approach to women’s mental health in rural and regional Victoria

Amount$196,142

Date2019

ProgramHealth

TRUST OBJECTIVES PROJECT OBJECTIVES
Rural and regional Victoria Improving access for women in regional and rural Victoria experiencing complex mental illness
Reducing inequality Developing an affordable and accessible service that centres around the biological, social and psychological needs of women
Enabling financial sustainability Establishing a sustainable service through Medicare rebates
Building organisational capacity Enabling the Monash Alfred Psychiatry Research Centre to develop and implement a safe and secure video-consultation service
Collaboration and partnership Collaboration with local GPs and healthcare providers in Swan Hill, Stawell, Sale and Bairnsdale, and Ballarat, and In Her Shoes annual conference

Enabling women in regional Victoria with complex mental health illness to access the same level of specialist care as their metropolitan sisters

One in five Australian women suffer from a mental disorder every year. Suicide rates in women are on the upward trend, which is compounded in rural and regional areas by the lack of access to mental health treatment. Professor Jayashri Kulkarni and her team at the Women’s Mental Health Clinic recognise that mental illness requires a gender-specific and holistic approach, and incorporate specialist medical, psychiatric and endocrine consultation and support into their model. This 3-year pilot will expand the Clinic's video-consultation services to enable women with mental illness, who are disadvantaged by where they live in Victoria, to access this unique and specialised care.

Image Professor Jayashri Kulkarni (centre) and the MAPrc team.

The Women’s Mental Health Clinic is operated by the Monash Alfred Psychiatry research centre (MAPrc) and is part of Monash University’s Central Clinical School and The Alfred Hospital’s Department of Psychiatry. The Clinic differs from traditional psychiatric services by providing a holistic approach to treating women’s mental illness, connecting each woman with experts across various specialities and providing them access to cutting edge research to ensure they receive the best possible treatment for their needs.

Snapshot:

  • Consultations will be conducted via a secure purpose-built video-consultation platform;
  • The consultations are designed to be interactive and women will be able to include family members, case managers or other health practitioners in their appointment;
  • The service is a ‘second opinion’ service, which compliments the treatment offered by a patient’s GP;
  • The local GP plays a key role in the joint video-consultation with the psychiatrist and endocrinologist, and in the maintenance of a tailored, ongoing mental health care plan;
  • The service aims to be affordable and accessible to patients via Medicare bulk billing;
  • Professional development for rural and regional GPs includes:
    • education sessions and short courses;
    • a free Women’s Mental Health Toolkit; and
    • the annual In Her Shoes conference on women’s mental health for medical practitioners, is a GP education program registered as mandatory continued education with the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners.

Women’s Mental Health Clinic

monash.edu

“For some patients, it may be the difference in receiving treatment or not.” Dr Catherine Pye, Stawell Medical Centre.