In 2016, as part of its Mental Health Reform initiative, the Federal Government announced it would be introducing a Mental Health Stepped Care Model.
PHNs were tasked with undertaking comprehensive regional mental health planning to identify the primary mental health care service gaps and establish the stepped care model approach to delivering these services that we will be funded for.
Over the last 12 months, we have carried out a variety of consultations about the Stepped Care Model including specific sessions about changes to the current ATAPS program. Feedback has been sought from a wide cross-section of our community; GPs, hospital-based clinicians, consumers, carers and the allied health providers participating in our current mental health programs. During this consultation period we have gathered information, analysed it and identified a new model which will provide mental health services for people with low, medium or high needs. The next six months will involve additional planning and collaboration so that upon implementation of the new model in July 2018, we have in place the necessary systems and resources to support the roll out of the services provided under the Stepped Care Model.
This also means that we now need to introduce changes to our current mental health programs in readiness for this transition.
Today, we have announced to the GPs in our region changes that will affect our ATAPS program from 1 January 2018.
These changes will primarily impact the Tier 1 (general) ATAPS service, although all ATAPS services will be affected when the new (yet to be named) psychological services for underserviced groups replace the current ATAPS program in July 2018.
I encourage you to find out more about the important changes to the ATAPS program. We have listed some alternative mental health referral pathways that may be available to you.