Community Hubs

Safe Haven

Who is it for?

People who experience a mental health or suicidal crisis often cannot find the right kind of immediate support, especially if their distress escalates outside of the usual business hours of mental health services.

What is it about?

The Mindgardens group will establish a safe house and drop-in recovery centre within the Randwick precinct, addressing the need the need for alternative, non-clinical pathways to support for people in suicide crisis.

Operating during extended hours and staffed by a peer-led workforce supported by mental health professionals, the service will link people as needed with the Prince of Wales Hospital emergency department, after-care and ongoing mental health support, and housing, legal and other community services.

In the initial phase the team will assess the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of the proposed safe house model to meet the high level of need in the South Eastern Sydney area. Based on what they find, they will develop a proposal for a Safe Haven pilot – including a clinical trial methodology to evaluate the effectiveness of the Safe Haven services when they begin.

Which organisations are involved?

  • South Eastern Sydney LHD
  • Mindgardens Apex Clinic for Depression
  • Central and Eastern Sydney Primary Health Network
  • Black Dog Institute

Keeping the Body in Mind(gardens)

Project lead: Associate Professor Jackie Curtis (SESLHD)

Who is it for?

Many people who live with severe and persistent mental illness also experience poor physical health. The reduced life expectancy – 15 to 20 years less than average – is largely attributable to physical health issues, including obesity, reduced physical activity, poor nutrition, higher rates of smoking and medication side-effects, as well as reduced access to health care.

What is it about?

Mindgardens will scale up the pioneering Keeping the Body in Mind program, making the services available for more people and adding new research studies to identify how key components can be replicated in other settings.

Based at the Bondi Centre and funded initially by South Eastern Sydney Local Health District, Keeping the Body in Mind was the first example in Australia of the integration of a physical health team within a community mental health service, demonstrating that lifestyle interventions could prevent weight gain related to medication in young people experiencing psychosis. It has focused to date on helping people to improve their diet, increase exercise and reduce smoking in order to reduce their heart disease risk.

The program’s expansion through an 18-month Mindgardens pilot will emphasise shared care between GPs and mental health services, increasing the number of people who can access the integrated service – which will address alcohol, drug and tobacco use along with the other heart disease risk factors. Innovative models of care incorporating peer health coaches, digital platforms and novel treatments will aim to improve physical health outcomes in people experiencing serious mental illness. People who live with severe mental illness, as well as clinicians and researchers, will co-design the enhanced service, which will occupy a site on the redeveloped Randwick precinct and conduct research studies alongside the patient services. Knowledge translation will be another key feature, with a focus on education and training for consumers, families and carers, peer workers and clinicians.

As well as developing and evaluating new care protocols, the clinic will closely monitor income and costs – including opportunities for Medicare funding and competitive research grants – to understand how the service can become sustainable beyond the pilot stage.

Which organisations are involved?

  • SESLHD Mental Health and Drug and Alcohol services, including the Recovery College
  • UNSW Sydney:
    • School of Psychiatry;
    • School of Medical Science (Exercise Physiology including UNSW Lifestyle Clinic);
    • Centre for Primary Health Care and Equity (CPHCE);
    • National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre
  • Black Dog Institute – Knowledge Translation and Digital platforms
  • NeuRA
  • Tertiary Referral Service for Psychosis
  • Central and Eastern Sydney Primary Health Network