New mental health chief soon

Chris Fleming
Chris Fleming
The Southern District Health Board will soon appoint a new head of mental health, chief executive Chris Fleming says.

The role of mental health medical director has been vacant since Dr Brad Strong ended his four-year stint with the SDHB and returned to the United States.

''I think we are on the verge of appointing the medical director, but I don't think it has been confirmed yet,'' Mr Fleming said.

The new appointee will have had plenty of groundwork done for them: the Government Inquiry Into Mental Health and Addiction report was released on Tuesday, and the SDHB's own local strategic mental health and addiction plan, Raise Hope, remains to be fully implemented.

Mr Fleming said the recommendations of the Ministerial inquiry dovetailed well with provisions in Raise Hope.

''I don't see too much inconsistency with Raise Hope in the recommendations which have come through, and hopefully it will push us that much faster and that much harder.''

Health Minister David Clark said yesterday that the Government would reveal its formal response to the report's recommendations in March.

Mr Fleming said the report's focus on expanding access to services and improving choice fitted nicely with Raise Hope, and he hoped the Government would ultimately go in the same direction.

''The report will provide the entire mental health team and the mental health network clarity of direction,'' he said.

''If there is investment, and obviously there are a number of areas where it is suggested investment is needed, hopefully that will provide the impetus for the sort of changes we want to see happen.''

Raise Hope was drafted and consulted on in 2012, but not all its action points have been carried out - most notably a review of several services.

While some areas, including youth addiction services, have been reviewed and changes implemented, others were put on hold early last year while the SDHB out a new structure and staffing in place.

Work on the remaining Raise Hope reviews had now restarted, Mr Fleming said.

''The mental health and addictions directorate has adopted an innovative and participative process of change known as co-design, which offers a more extensive engagement and contributory process for our stakeholders including consumers, providers, and a range of other agencies.

''This creative and collaborative process has also contributed to the updating of Raise Hope, and this will be released early next year.''

The updating of Raise Hope would also factor in the Government response to the Mental Health Inquiry.


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