The Mindgardens partners are developing a three-level service ‘ecosystem’ that acknowledges and combines the respective strengths of different types of health care, and matches the intensity of support to their clients’ needs:

Mindgardens partners ensure patients can transition between these layers as their health requires – averting acute illness and reducing pressure on the health system, where preventable crises are too often the norm.

Diagnostic, treatment and support services will eventually be integrated and shared across mental health, alcohol and other drugs and neurology specialties. Until then, Mindgardens partners will continue to offer services within their own discipline while collaborating closely – providing referrals to other organisations in the network, initiating joint research, and using shared data to determine patient journeys.

The Mindgardens models also relies on organisational infrastructure to support the combined clinical, research and education approaches that define the Mindgardens partnership, including:

  • a clinical trials framework
  • shared data systems
  • integrated care pathways for patients with mental health and substance use issues
  • support for clinicians to develop research expertise.

SPECIALIST CLINICS

Mindgardens clinics offer patients with brain or mental health disorders access to integrated treatments, expert clinical services and research participation.

Specialising in complex assessment and enhanced or novel treatments, they co-locate clinicians, scientists, allied health practitioners and peer workers. They ensure patients are treated consistently according to agreed protocols, regardless of which specialist is treating them.

Mindgardens clinics translate research findings rapidly into new treatments, and train Australia’s next generation of clinicians and researchers.

In Phase 1 this will include:

  • individualised therapeutic approaches for people who live with complex psychotic disorders
  • clinical support for people whose depression is too complex for a GP to manage alone, but not so severe they need in-patient care.

COMMUNITY HUBS

Community hubs represent the ‘back to health’ pathway for people whose needs and priorities have been assessed by a GP or a hospital specialist at a Mindgardens clinic.

They may also be valuable for people in the wider community who need support beyond the prevention and outreach apps.

The hubs may be either physical locations or virtual centres that network with general practice and other local services.

In Phase 1 this will include:

  • scoping of a peer-led safe haven for people experiencing a mental health or suicidal crisis, open for extended hours and with strong links to hospital and community services
  • scaled up physical health support for people with mental health issues, addressing cardiac and metabolic health and medication side-effects.

PREVENTION & OUTREACH

These services aim to reduce the impact of mental health, drug and alcohol and neurological conditions not just for patients but across the whole community.

They will be delivered primarily via internet and smartphone apps, with advice and alerts automatically customised to individual circumstances.

Prevention and outreach, before disorders develop or progress, offer the best opportunity to reduce the escalating economic and social impact of mental health and neurological disorders.

In Phase 1 this will include:

  • adaptation of the popular Black Dog Institute Online Clinic for patients with chronic physical health problems
  • shared care plans between patients, GPs and specialist services, with a focus on integrated responses to mental health and alcohol and drug issues.

Mindgardens – Information for Patients

The Mindgardens clinic services are provided to people who live within the catchment of the South Eastern Sydney Local Health District, and many outside the region will also benefit through telehealth outreach programs that are integral to the model. As the value of the approach is confirmed, there is potential for some of the clinics to become state-wide specialist services, serving people all over NSW.

Most Mindgardens services in the initial phase will be available through the usual pathways for specialist services – primarily by referral either from a GP or through hospital in-patient wards or out-patient clinics. The Safe Haven when opened will be a drop-in centre that anyone can use.

At the beginning of this new phase, patients are more likely to see the familiar brands of the partner organisations rather than of the Mindgardens alliance; however they can be confident that behind the scenes the partners are working together to improve outcomes for the people who use their services by defining new ways of working together in diagnosis, care protocols and shared research questions.

Many services available from Mindgardens partners are offered free of charge through the Prince of Wales Hospital and associated community services, or can be bulk billed through Medicare. Fees are charged for some services to people who can afford them.  Any co-payments or opportunities to use private health insurance will be fully disclosed.