The purpose of the Famiy and Carer Mental Health Program is to improve the wellbeing of families and carers of people with mental health conditions, and the people they support.
Families and carers play a significant role in the support and recovery of people with mental health conditions. The program acknowledges the critical role families and carers play in promoting and sustaining positive mental health and recovery, together with consumers, practitioners and relevant professionals.
Families and carers have diverse backgrounds and circumstances and they have varied needs in relation to supporting people with mental health conditions. The program identifies and addresses these needs through a range of information, support and services.
Services and support for families and carers are structured and delivered in New South Wales through a partnership approach that includes:
- collaborative partnership in supporting and providing mental health care between consumers, carers and practitioners
- partnership between Local Health Districts, the Justice Health and Forensic Mental Health Network and Community Managed Organisations in delivering the Family and Carer Mental Health Program
- partnership with consumers, carers and services in improving care standards.
Provisions in legislation
The Carer Recognition Act 2010 and the NSW Carers Charter aims to increase recognition and awareness of carers and acknowledges the valuable contribution they make to society.
Chapter 4 of the Mental Health Act 2007 acknowledges that families and carers and the people they support have the right to be included in planning and decisions regarding all aspects of care and treatment.
Standard 2 of the National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards includes that families and carers and the people they support have the right to contribute to the improvement of mental health services.
Standard 3 and Standard 7 of the National Standards for Mental Health Services 2010 also promotes consumer and carer participation in all aspects of care and treatment and the design and delivery of services.
In line with the above provisions, the Family and Carer Mental Health Program supports the inclusion of families and carers as partners in developing care and treatment plans, and in the planning, delivery and evaluation of services.
Providing support and identified services to families and carers helps to address their own health and wellbeing needs, and benefit the people that they care for.
The program aims to improve the wellbeing and health outcomes of families and carers and the people they support by ensuring that:
- families and carers are included, where possible and appropriate, in the mental health care and recovery goals of the people they support
- families and carers have options for support and receive the support they need at the time they need it
- families and carers and have access to appropriate information in a medium that they can understand
- information and support is provided in an evidence-based, trauma-informed, culturally relevant and responsive, and cost-effective manner
- families and carers are included as partners in the planning, development and evaluation of services.
The NSW Family and Carer Mental Health Program is a statewide program funded by the NSW Ministry of Health, and delivered in partnership between 15 local health districts (LHD), the Justice & Forensic Mental Health Network (JH&FMHN) and five specialist community managed organisations (CMOs):
- CatholicCare Wilcannia-Forbes
- Mission Australia
- One Door Mental Health
- Parramatta Mission.
The program provides comprehensive support for families and carers through the public mental health system and the community managed service sector, and links with existing local programs to provide a balanced and effective system of support across the state. JH&FMHN has a Memorandum of Understanding that looks at similar partnerships with the CMO partners to minimise the health consequences of the patient and their families or carers.
Key stakeholders include:
- carers and family members
- mental health consumers
- community (individuals, agencies, referrers, advocates)
- local health districts and specialist Community Managed Organisations
- Justice and Forensic Mental Health Network
- non-government organisation (NGO) peak bodies and targeted organisations
- the Ministry of Health
- other government and community managed service providers.
Family inclusive mental health services are facilitated and provided by the LHDs and JH&FMHN. This is achieved through expert advice and consultation, and by employing specialist staff to embed best practice culture. This enables contemporary approaches and work practices to be integrated into workforce training and professional development.
Education, training, individual support and advocacy services are provided by the LHDs and CMOs, and where appropriate, the JH&FMHN. Families and carers are actively included and encouraged to participate in the design and delivery of these services.
Program members work in partnership with families and carers to improve awareness of and access to a diversity of services relevant to their needs.
- Providing one-to-one support and advocacy for carers.
- Coordinating support groups for carers.
- Providing information and resources for carers.
- Providing training/education programs for carers (including young carers), and organisations.
- Supporting carers with additional needs and cultural diversity, and advocating on their behalf with relevant services and stakeholders:
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders
- people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds
- people with disabilities
- people with coexisting mental and physical health conditions
- young people
- older people
- people identifying as LGBTQI.
- Strengthening referral and access pathways.
- Delivering health promotion activities.
- Delivering intranet/website and social media activities.
- Supporting and coordinating carer participation and partnership activities.
- Planning and delivering LHD, JH&FMHN and CMO partnership activities.
- Providing clinical services for families and carers, and facilitating culturally responsive clinical practice.
- Providing training and professional development to public mental health service staff.
- Providing consultation/supervision for public mental health service staff.
- Providing relevant professional resources for public mental health service staff.