Australian College of Mental Health Nurses welcomes Western Australia’s mental health system overhaul

Thursday 17 March 2022

The Australian College of Mental Health Nurses (ACMHN) was delighted to see a stronger emphasis on mental health nurses in the Western Australian Government’s planned reshape of its mental health care system for children and adolescents.

The McGowan Government announced on Tuesday it would implement all 32 recommendations of the Ministerial Taskforce into Public Mental Services for Infants, Children and Adolescents in WA Final Report.

The ACMHN consulted closely with the taskforce, advocating for mental health nurses (MHNs) representation and recognition.

“We were particularly pleased to see the report highlight the need for the development of new executive roles in mental health nursing, giving them more involvement in critical decisions regarding service delivery and workforce opportunities,” ACMHN Vice-President Monica Taylor said.

“The report also sees a shift in language towards acknowledging MHNs as a specialty with its own specific scope of practice, which recognises the importance of the contribution of the mental health nurse in the multidisciplinary team, leading to better consumer outcomes. This is an important move.”

To relieve some of the ever-growing pressure on Western Australia’s mental health system and close gaps in the work force, the report recommended “supporting mental health nurses in training to remain within the service, and increasing the numbers of peer workers and Aboriginal mental health workers.

It also suggested a new model of care for children presenting to emergency departments in times of crisis, which recommended that “intensive care area-trained psychiatric liaison nurses should be included in all major metropolitan and regional hospitals and alternative workforce models should be explored (e.g. nurse practitioner-led models).”

“The College specifically advocated these points and we’re pleased to see them reflected in the report. It is critical to have more qualified mental health nurses and mental health nurse practitioners on the ground who are skilled to work with complex case presentations in children and adolescents,” Ms Taylor said.

“I look forward to working towards implementation of these recommendations with the sense of urgency that our young people, families, and the community deserve.”

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