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District runs new statewide mental health service

Specialist mental health consultation service for people with intellectual disabilities.

Group of people standing in a line in front of banners
SydneyConnect Image: Statewide Intellectual Disability Mental Health Outreach Service (SIDMHOS)

Sydney Local Health District has opened a new service to improve access to specialist mental health support for adults with an intellectual disability across New South Wales.

The Statewide Intellectual Disability Mental Health Outreach Service (SIDMHOS) provides advice and consultation to health care professionals working with adults with intellectual disabilities where there are concerns about their mental health or behaviour.

Data shows more than 125,000 people in NSW have an intellectual disability.

And, people with intellectual disability are up to three times more likely to experience a mental health condition at any time in their life.

"Many people with intellectual disability will experience barriers to accessing mental health support in mainstream services," David Thompson, a clinical nurse consultant who coordinates the service, said.

"We aim to improve access to tailored, evidence-based treatment and support to individuals, their families and treating mental health care teams," he said.

The multi-disciplinary team, based at the Concord Centre for Mental Health, includes two psychiatrists, a psychiatric registrar, a clinical psychologist and a clinical neuropsychologist.

The team can provide advice over the phone to health professionals, conduct case reviews and hold joint clinical assessments with patients, families, and mental health teams.

"We take into account the nature of the individual's case and the level of support the referring mental health professional or team is seeking," David Thompson said.

The team provides comprehensive reports which include recommendations about services, physical health care, mental health treatment and psychological support.

They use video conferencing to ensure those living in rural or remote areas of the state can access the service, with priority given to those without local alternatives.

The team has also developed a virtual education program for health professionals who'd like to improve their clinical knowledge and expertise in providing mental health care to adults with an intellectual disability.

The program offers practical advice and clinical teaching with opportunities for participants to present their own clinical cases and receive specialist feedback.

"This service builds on our experience and clinical leadership in providing mental health support to people with an intellectual disability in our District," Dr Teresa Anderson, the District's Chief Executive, said.

"Our local specialist mental health service continues to operate from its base at Concord Hospital and lends significant clinical expertise to the statewide SIDMHOS team. Mental health support is also available to people with intellectual disabilities through our STrIDeS team at Croydon Community Health Centre," Dr Anderson said.

For more information, please see the SIDMHOS webpage, email SLHD-SIDMHOS@health.nsw.gov.au or call 02 9767 7889.