Why Mental Health matters to all of us

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The importance of Mental Health Week in Australia

A previous National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing, found that one in five of Australian adults had a mental disorder in the previous 12 months and that almost half the total Australian population would experience a mental disorder at some time in their lives.

The NDIS was originally designed to provide support to people with an intellectual, physical and/or neurological disability. NDIA forecasts do include providing support to 68,000 people with a “psychosocial disability” but unfortunately many people with a mental illness will not be eligible for an NDIS package of support. They will have to rely solely on Government mental health services and community based services in each state.

Recent media articles have highlighted the chance for many people to fall through the cracks.

In terms of the service response, understanding the social determinants of health is essential to responding effectively to mental health and psychosocial disability. The concept of wellbeing is key. Staff working in the NDIA and for scheme partners should seek to use a person-centred approach to improve, or at least not make worse, the wellbeing of people with psychosocial disability. For example, ‘languishing while waiting’ for services to commence is often very detrimental to a person’s wellbeing – Mental Health Australia, May 2018.

Mental Health Australia is working with consumers and carers, and has prepared a submission for the NDIA regarding a clearer pathway into the NDIS for those with a psychosocial disability. They are also managing a project on behalf of eight large national providers of psychosocial support through the NDIS to develop alternative typical support packages.

The Mental Health Commission has also produced a guide with tips to access the NDIS for people seeking mental health support.

It is even more important therefore that NDIA and partner staff have the pre-requisite competencies to ensure both quality service provision and, at a minimum, do no harm to people with psychosocial disability.

Centro ASSIST has developed a CORE set of policies and processes to inform the work of NDIS registered service providers. Extra modules will be launched soon that provide guidance when dealing with clients with complex and challenging behaviours including a positive behaviour support policy.

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What is Positive Behaviour Support?

Positive Behaviour Support is a modern approach to challenging behaviours. It has gained international acceptance and is being adopted by many organisations and government departments in the disability sector. Its goals are to assist a person in engaging in less challenging behaviour and increase their quality of life.

Positive behaviour support is exactly what it sounds like - a supportive, positive approach and key points include:

  • We shouldn't try to control others, but offer support instead

  • Positive responses are better than coercion and punishment

  • Don't just blame the person, look for wider causes in the environment

  • Look for the reason behind a behaviour (e.g. is there an unmet need?)

  • Every person has unique strengths and talents to offer

  • Everyone deserves respect, quality of life and effective services.

Written by Arahni Sont - Centro ASSIST Strategic Adviser/Business Development and former member NDIA Mental Health Sector Reference Group

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