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About the Hubs

Two Statewide Intellectual Disability Mental Health Hubs have been established to help people with intellectual or developmental disability access appropriate mental health care. One Hub is for children and young people, and one Hub is for adults. Both are funded by NSW Health.

The Hubs offer:

  • a combination of face-to-face support and virtual care 
  • specialised assessment, care planning, reporting and recommendations
  • education, training and support for mental health clinicians and disability workers providing care to people with intellectual disability.

The NSW Mental Health Commission reports that approximately 125,000 people in NSW live with intellectual disability and up to 40 per cent of this population will experience a mental health condition within their lifespan.


How do the Hubs work?

Referrals are needed to access Hub services and can be made by paediatricians, child psychiatrists or a Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) clinician. 

Consumers and carers work closely with their referring clinician when accessing the Hubs, and the consumer's referring clinician is responsible for ongoing care.

What services do the Hubs offer?

There are different types of help at the Hubs, based on the teams and the consumer's or clinician's needs:

Joint consultation - assessment, diagnosis and short term treatment with referrer, patient and family.

Clinical consultation - assessment, diagnosis and short-term treatment with patient and family, with advice to referrer.

Case-based discussions - Hub psychiatrist to referring doctor or Hub allied health clinician to the treating allied health clinician

Advice - advice on referral pahtways or resources over the phone.

Capacity building and professional development opportunities - kids webinar series, scholarships and other opportunities.

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Mental Health Intellectual Disability Hub - children and young people 

The Sydney Children's Hospital Network Mental Health and Intellectual Disability Hub is a statewide service for children and teens under age 18 with intellectual or autism spectrum disorders, or both, who also have mental health issues.  

The Hub is run by the Developmental Psychiatry Team within the Department of Psychological Medicine at the Children's Hospital at Westmead. It is under the governance of Sydney Local Health District.

More information about how to access this Hub, eligibility and referral forms on the NSW Health website and on the Sydney Children's Hospital Network website.

Mental Health Intellectual Disability Hub - adults

The Statewide Intellectual Disability Mental Health Outreach Service helps adults with intellectual or developmental disability access appropriate mental health care.

The Hub is based at Concord Repartriation General Hospital, with a clinical space for assessments located at Croydon Community Health Centre. It is under the governance of Sydney Local Health District.

Priority for services will be given to consumers who do not have access to a Specialist Intellectual Disability Health Team or other specialist Intellectual Disability Mental Health Services.

More information about how to access this Hub, eligibility and referral forms on the NSW Health website and on the
Sydney LHD website.

How the Hubs differ to other mental health services

Mental health practitioners will work closely with the consumer, their families and carers to adapt the communication style to meet the needs of the consumer.

In specialist services for people with intellectual disability, communicating needs can be much more complex and may rely on subtle behavioural and nonverbal cues. These skills enable the clinicians to work and communicate directly with the person, as well as  their carers and support networks.

Additionally, information may be presented in different ways, evidence based adaptive therapies are used and specialist skills in positive behaviour management are available.

Why the Hubs were developed

Evidence indicates that people with both intellectual disability and mental health conditions experience:

  • barriers in accessing services
  • a lower quality of life
  • higher rates of unplanned inpatient care to manage their conditions.

The identification of a significant gap in mainstream and specialist service capacity for people who experience both intellectual disability and mental health problems was noted in:

The Hubs' services aim to address the barriers facing people with intellectual disability and mental health problems by:

    • encouraging the use of evidence-based tools and interventions that will enhance care
    • developing accessible consumer health resources
    • assisting mental health staff to better understand the issues and provide a strategy to assist in the provision of appropriate care
    • identify appropriate pathways and avenues of support
    • receiving calls from specialist doctors, general practitioners and other clinicians seeking advice or support about management of individuals when at a loss as to what to do prior to escalating to tertiary services
    • provide leadership and capacity-building support to district mental health services to ensure needs are met.

Education and capacity building for health professionals  

The Hubs also offer workforce development, professional development opportunities and education for health and disability professionals interested in learning more about providing evidence based and effective mental health care for people with intellectual disability. Find out more information about scholarships, professional opportunities, tools and resources.

Intellectual Disability Mental Health chair

NSW Health hopes to improve the types and quality of mental health care available to people with intellectual disability by funding the Chair in Intellectual Disability Mental Health.

Professor Julian Trollor is the inaugural Chair in Intellectual Disability Mental Health at the University of NSW. Professor Trollor has held this role since 2009 and has developed research, tools and resources to help mental health clinicians work with people with intellectual disability.

Launch of the Statewide Intellectual Disability Mental Health Hubs on 24 February 2021

The Statewide Intellectual Disability Mental Health Hubs were launched by the Hon. Bronnie Taylor MLC, Minister for Mental Health, Regional Youth and Women on 24 February 2021. The videos below are from this event, and include valuable information about each of the Hubs, and the story that led to the development of the specialist services.

Transcript: Introduction to the IDMH Hubs Launch - 24 Feb 2021
Transcript: Launch by Minister Bronnie Taylor and Minister Gareth Ward
Transcript: IDMH in NSW
Transcript: SCHN Mental Health Intellectual Disability Hub
Transcript: Statewide Intellectual Disability Mental Health Outreach Service (SIDMHOS)
Current as at: Friday 4 June 2021
Contact page owner: Mental Health Branch