Mental Health

Mental ill health is one the biggest health challenges for Western Australians.

The importance of mental health is reflected in the 68% ($86 million) of our Australian Government funding dedicated to mental health programs that promote early intervention to reduce the impact and escalation of mental illness.

Our Priorities

  • Increasing access to local, low cost mental health services to reach those people and communities in areas with limited service availability but high demand, those who are most disadvantaged and those most at risk of poor health outcomes.
  • Building capacity within general practice to recognise and support patients with mental health conditions and ensure GPs are aware of clinical pathways and referral processes.
  • Increasing access to early intervention services to prevent escalating acuity and reduce the burden on acute and emergency department presentations.
  • Leading the implementation of the Alliance Against Depression (AAD), a key strategic approach to achieving the vision of health equity in WA.
  • Tailoring evidence-informed approaches to suicide prevention for at-risk populations in regional areas.

Key Activities

Practitioner Online Referral Treatment Service (PORTS): A service providing telephone and online treatments by registered mental health professionals to people experiencing financial and/or locational disadvantage .It plays a central role in ensuring equity for those in need of, and unable to, access face-to-face mental health services, with GPs having the option of referring directly to the service.

Suicide Prevention Trials: As part of the national Australian Government Suicide Prevention Trial, we oversee three Trials in Perth South, the Midwest and the Kimberley. Each site was selected due to its higher than average suicide rate. The Trials aim to find the most effective approaches to suicide prevention for at-risk populations and to share this knowledge across Australia.

Alliance Against Depression: The strong link between depression and suicide requires a focus on improving access to primary mental healthcare for all people. Based on evaluated trials, the AAD is an internationally accepted practice for the care of people with depression and in the reduction of suicidal acts. It has informed the activities within the Perth South and Midwest Suicide Prevention Trial Sites.

Key Achievements - Mental Health

  • Continued year-on-year increase in access to primary mental health care for Western Australians through the services we fund, with the number of clients, service contacts and episodes of care provided up across all three WA PHNs.

Total Clients

17/18 - 6,429
18/19 - 10,983
19/20 - 13,734

Total Episodes

17/18 - 6,565
18/19 - 11,677
19/20 - 14,708

Total Service Contacts

17/18 - 41,489
18/19 - 83,159
19/20 - 126,950
  • Approximately two thirds of people categorised as presenting with severe-/very severe distress reported significant improvement following an episode of care, noting services are increasingly being accessed by people with extreme levels of psychological suffering.
  • Increased mental health outcome measurement compliance reporting by our funded services from 51 per cent to 80 per cent.
  • Responded to COVID-19 and the increase in demand for mental health support in a number of ways:
  • Continued to offer people access to high quality virtual psychological care to people experiencing financial and/or locational disadvantage throughout WA that would otherwise be unavailable. The virtual nature and reach of the PORTS service, provided immediate telephone and online treatment by registered mental health professionals.
  • Provided financial assistance to our commissioned service providers to mobilise their workforce to provide telehealth services.
  • Ran a COVID-19 mental health support campaign, garnering 10 million views. Read our case study.
  • Launched the See Your GP campaign to restore people’s confidence and increase appointment bookings for all conditions, including mental health issues.
Mental Health Access to Services - Modality:19/20 FY
Possible COVID-19 effects
Face to face contacts have decreased from 43% to 27% of all contacts since 1 March 2020
Telephone contacts increased from 29% to 47% of all contacts since 1 March 2020
Video contacts have increased from 0.1% to 1.2% of all contacts since 1 March 2020
Internet-based contacts are mostly PORTS and have remained quite steady
  • Contributed to the Productivity Commission Mental Health Enquiry, to address barriers to access created by the siloed nature of funding and service provision. Our solution could address many of the problems faced by people with lived experience of mental illness or suicidal behaviour, and their carers and families, including fragmentation of services and pathways, gaps, duplication and inefficiencies in service provision.
  • Co-designed an after-care coordinator service trial in the Wheatbelt (a region with a shortage of appropriately skilled mental health workforce and a mortality rate from intentional self-harm 1.4 times higher than the state average), connecting people with vital community-based support, on discharge from a hospital emergency department following a suicide attempt. Clients reported a 70 percent improvement in psychological distress and 75 per cent felt more positive about their health improving.
  • Uncovered important insights through a co-design process involving multiple stakeholder groups into how young people want to engage with a mental health and wellness service. The result, Amber Youth Wellness, is an outreach service run by Mercy Care empowering young people to play an active role in their own mental health management.
  • Commissioned an independent evaluation of the headspace Pilbara Outreach Trial, the only such model in Australia, which confirmed the model’s success,particularly with regard to engaging hard to reach youth, achieving system reform and trying new approaches.
  • Began planning the expansion of the existing 13 headspace services in WA, working towards opening four additional centres and four satellite services soon.

Key Achievements - Alliance Against Depression

  • Supported local Alliances to develop, including Rockingham who engaged over 90 stakeholders for their community launch on World Mental Health Day 2019 and City of Kalamunda who partnered with a community leader to coordinate and deliver AAD as a priority.
  • Educated over 1000 clinicians, community members and local government representatives on how AAD can benefit their communities.
  • Launched an online discussion hub to connect local Alliance leaders to each other and the European AAD and AAD Coordination Centre.

We have started to roll out The Alliance Against Depression model in Western Australia.

Key Achievements - Suicide Prevention Trials

  • Supported the Chapman Valley Men’s Shed Shinema Project develop a drive-in cinema bus, converted and run by local men, to combat social isolation in rural Midwest communities, with funding committed for the 2020/21 financial year, to visit five more rural communities.
  • Supported the Peel and Rockingham Kwinana Community Response Steering Group to trial a Postvention Community Response , an Australian first, to provide immediate wrap-around support for families, friends, and colleagues bereaved by suicide.
  • Funded a patient care navigator position within Active Response Bereavement Outreach (ARBOR), to facilitate pathways of support for the bereaved and to continue to strengthen postvention activities, beyond completion of the Pilot.
  • Facilitated the establishment of and continuation of community liaison officer roles in communities across the Kimberley to support local social and emotional wellbeing initiatives.
  • Supported the Wirnan Creative Project to promote and share intergenerational knowledge and strengthen culture, which is essential for the social and emotional wellbeing of local communities, particularly young people. Gija Elders and Ngalangangpum School embedded culture in the curriculum including bush trips, and information about language groups, kinship and art.
  • Launched Wot Na Wot Kine, a campaign by and for Kimberley young people to encourage them to open up and share their problems. The campaign was widely viewed by local young people with more than 70,000 video plays, 5000 listens on Spotify, and 800 spots across local television and radio.

Case Study

Our Priorities

Read about this year’s achievements and some of the great work being done with our key partners and the community to deliver better health, together.

Aboriginal Health

Improving the health of Aboriginal Western Australians is a critical concern.

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Aged Care

We are committed to increasing access for older Western Australians to primary healthcare.

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Alcohol and Other Drugs

Our focus is on providing services that respond to people as a whole.

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Digital Health

Digital health helps us to identify priorities, link services, and fund options for better primary care.

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Health Workforce

We build the capacity and capability ofthe primary healthcare workforce to help more people access the care they need.

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Mental Health

We know that mental ill health is one the biggest health challenges forWestern Australians.

View Mental Health

Population Health

Improving population health contributes to the wellbeing of communities across our State.

View Population Health