Mindgardens brings together the strengths of four founding partner organisations.

Black Dog Institute Logo
NeuRA Logo
UNSW Sydney Logo

Together they form a unique and highly concentrated hub of expertise, centred on the south eastern Sydney region but with the capacity to serve the whole NSW community.

The Mindgardens partnership is anchored in fundamental PRINCIPLES AND VALUES. Across all their work the Mindgardens member organisations will:

  • ensure patients and carers can participate fully in their own treatment planning and bring their perspectives to the design of services and research studies;
  • deeply integrate the knowledge and insights of nurses, doctors and other clinicians into all their work;
  • efficiently use and build upon existing service and research structures;
  • emphasise the development of sustainable and scalable models of care, so consistent practice based on sound evidence is business as usual;
  • promote innovation and research as core business;
  • emphasise the expanding role of leading-edge technologies, especially in prevention;
  • routinely measure outcomes that are important to patients’ lives;
  • support the linkage of data from the partner organisations and external collaborators, to increase understanding of patients’ journeys;
  • fully and quickly share results with the community and the health sector.

The Challenge

There is increasing concern within the community about the delivery and quality of health services for mental health, suicide prevention, drug and alcohol and brain disorders. In particular, general practice care, community care and hospital systems are often disconnected, leaving vulnerable people to fall through the cracks. Opportunities to prevent issues arising or to intervene early are often lost because of this poor coordination. The result: acute crises which cause accelerated decline in patients’ health and increased hospital admissions – all potentially preventable.

Analysis commissioned by Mindgardens, A Review of the burden of disease for neurological, mental health and substance disorders in Australia, estimates the cost of brain disorders at more than $74 billion a year across Australia, and reveals their impact on the economy is growing faster than heart disease, cancer, and respiratory disease combined.

The Mindgardens Neuroscience Network – spanning clinical, research, service design and system innovations – represents a comprehensive response to this urgent challenge.

Phase 1

Mindgardens is an ambitious concept that will be fulfilled incrementally over several years.

The first stage, made possible by a $7 million grant from the Commonwealth Government, sets in place some foundational projects for completion from 2019 to 2021 – essential blocks on which future investments can build.

These projects include new models of care in specialist clinics and the community, research programs, training and education initiatives and behind-the-scenes data systems to support collaboration. They bring Mindgardens partners into close collaborations, creating a foundation for a future in which the expertise of the individual organisations comes together to create a whole immensely bigger than the sum of its parts.

This work, which will directly improve the health of thousands of people in the South Eastern Sydney region, will also create a world-first template for sharing patients’ care between general practice, community clinics led by nurses and allied health professionals, and specialist hospital centres.

Mental health and drug and alcohol issues are “first off the rank” for Mindgardens’ pilot program development, to be followed by neurodegenerative conditions such as dementia. Other neurological disorders such as epilepsy, acquired brain injury and stroke will be introduced into the model at a later stage.

Learn more about Mindgardens Patient Services

Learn more about research programs and other opportunities

The Future

In future phases, Mindgardens will bring treatment and research for a complete spectrum of neurological and neurodegenerative disorders within the integrated model it has developed for mental health, suicide prevention and substance use.

Alongside new therapeutic approaches, the focus will be on healthy ageing and maintaining function and independence in line with the priorities expressed by patients and their families.

Extending the Phase 1 tiered model of prevention and outreach, community hubs and specialist clinics into these new clinical areas, the Mindgardens of the future will create even deeper and more extensive cross-disciplinary networks and expanded opportunities for teaching, learning and research.

The Context: Neurological disorders accounted for 8% of the total disease burden and cost the Australian community $30.4 billion in health care and lost productivity in 2017.

Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias affect nearly 250,000 Australians and are escalating rapidly as more people live to older ages; more than half the population will be aged 65 years or older by 2050.

Other important and relatively common neurological disorders include epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and stroke.

Acquired brain injuries, which may occur at any stage of life, and developmental conditions such as autism that emerge in early childhood also account for significant disability and distress to patients and carers.

Across all these disorders, future specialist clinics will provide specialist services with high-tech imaging and laboratory facilities to meet the complex challenges of rapid and accurate diagnosis, which in turn determines treatments.

At a community level, Mindgardens will work to enhance the evidence base for rehabilitation approaches in stroke, dementia and other neurological conditions, emphasising the functional outcomes that are most important for patients.

Meanwhile outreach programs for the whole community will aim to help people stay healthy and delay or prevent the onset of neurological disorders through physical activity, cognitive training, diet, and treatment of other physical illnesses and mental health issues – all of which are emerging as important influences on neurological health. These programs will be developed so they can be delivered consistently through local service providers or, increasingly, through phone-based apps or other technologies.