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Plan gets check-up

Saturday, 30th May, 2015

The NSW Mental Health Commissioner John Feneley in the city yesterday. The NSW Mental Health Commissioner John Feneley in the city yesterday.

By Emily Roberts

The NSW Mental Health Commissioner was in the city yesterday for a community forum.

NSW Commissioner John Feneley said they were here to discuss the State Government’s 10-year mental health plan called “Living Well: A Strategic Plan for Mental Health in NSW 2014-2024.

“We are committed to the plan and we came to discuss what it means locally, as well as getting a feel for the local priorities,” Mr Feneley said.

“In 2013 I came out to Broken Hill twice to hear from people. We’ve used that to help process the plan.”

Mr Feneley met with representatives of the Local Health District, the Primary Health Network and other major players.

“They are helping to identify the best met resources,” he said.

“NSW is a very big state and while a lot of the population lives in a concentrated area, it is otherwise spread out.

“That can affect local mechanisms.”

Mr Feneley said residents in country areas depended on their hospitals for mental health help.

“We need a community mental health system with a focus on early intervention and prevention.

“We need to engage the community and identify illness early as well as providing access to services.”

The forum was well attended by representatives from across the community, Mr Feneley said.

“It was much the same as in 2013; the community has a remarkable willingness to communicate.

“We will process the feedback, but it will be a real collaboration.”

The CEO of the national mental health commission David Butt said that mental health needs were often greater in the bush but services harder to come by.

At a national rural health conference in Darwin he spoke about the need for change to make sure people across the country got the help they needed.

“We are trying to address that,” Mr Feneley said.

“The reality is that it is harder to recruit specialists in regional areas and the community has to rely on visiting people.

“We try to look at alternatives like the e-mental health, which is advanced care for young people.

“We want people to do as much as they can help themselves by providing access to information and services.

“But we also want to be able to provide face-to-face services.”

Mr Feneley said they will continue to come to the region to discuss the plan with locals.

“We want to know if residents are seeing a change and we want to continue the relationship.

“We want to know if access to mental health services has improved.”

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