The ACMHN calls on Primary Health Networks to hire qualified mental health nurses for new Head to Health service centres

Monday 9 August 2021


Following the Australian Government’s funding boost to create pop-up mental health centres in response to prolonged COVID-19 lockdowns, the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses urges organisations to include qualified mental health nurses in the new clinics’ multidisciplinary staff. 


On Sunday, Federal Minister of Health Greg Hunt announced a $17.7 million spend to establish ten Head to Health pop-up mental health support clinics in greater Sydney and surrounding regions, and the extension of services in those already established in Victoria.


Responding to the Federal Government promising that the clinics will be “enhanced with multidisciplinary mental health teams”, ACMHN President Professor Mike Hazelton said that staff must be well-trained, multidisciplinary mental health professionals such as qualified mental health nurses. 


“If these teams are to function effectively, the staffing mix must include registered nurses who are Credentialed Mental Health Nurses (CMHNs) or at least hold specialist qualifications in mental health nursing,” he said.


To ensure the best care for those who need it most, the College is continuing to highlight the key role that qualified MHNs should play in the newly established mental health service centres, and in Australia’s mental health care system more broadly.


“People living in the lockdown-affected areas deserve nothing less than the level of care Credentialed Mental Health Nurses can provide. With this in mind the ACMHN is actively involved in conversations with Primary Health Networks (PHNs) to encourage them to work with CMHNs,” Professor Hazelton said.


“The College highlighted the need for at least qualified, if not Credentialed Mental Health Nurses to be included in the multidisciplinary teams working at Head to Health clinics,” ACMHN CEO Stephen Jackson added.


Made in light of the incredible mental health pressures people in locked down areas continue to face, the ACMHN sees the additional funding as a positive step forward.


“Given the stresses of living in lockdown for extended periods of time compounding the very real anxieties surrounding the health and social impacts of COVID-19, the provision of quality, accessible mental health care in the affected communities is essential. In this context the announcement is a big step in the right direction,” Professor Hazelton said.


For further comment, please contact ACMHN President, Dr Mike Hazelton on 0448 121 012 or at president@acmhn.org.


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