The Way Back Support Service has been officially launched across the south-west and has already helped people who have attempted suicide.
Western Victoria Primary Health Network (WVPHN) began The Way Back Support Service in the Great South Coast in September 2020 to offer support to people in the critical three-month period following an attempted suicide or suicidal crisis.
WVPHN chief executive Rowena Clift said at the official launch virtual event on Friday that the collaboration with Wellways and South West Healthcare had ensured positive outcomes.
"Our collaboration with our delivery partners is ensuring services are working together cohesively as part of WVPHNs regional planning to improve mental health care," Ms Clift said.
"We need to continue to reach out and connect with these people to ensure those who need appropriate care receive it in a timely and appropriate way."
Ms Clift said the program directly reflects some of the recommendations made during the Royal Commission into Mental Health.
"Regional collaboration with our major hospitals and other committed stakeholders is crucial in the establishment of the foundations and structure to support the coordinated implementation of the Royal Commission recommendations across our region," she said.
"The Way Back Support Service is an excellent example of a successful integrated service."
Referrals to The Way Back are made by hospital or community mental health staff, as well as staff from the emergency departments and mental health staff located in Warrnambool, Hamilton, Portland and Camperdown and Aboriginal health services.
The Way Back clinical coordinator John Parkinson determines an individuals eligibility for the service and actions the referral to Wellways who provides the individually-tailored program.
"What is critical for these people is knowing help is available," he said.
"Access to help must be smooth as navigating the system can be daunting.
"We have a way to go but we already have encouraging results since the beginning of The Way Back late last year."
Mr Parkinson said he was speaking to three people who had exited the program for feedback. The people said the workers listened without judgement, showed kindness, instilled hope and self-belief among other traits during the three-month program.
During last week's virtual launch, Fiona (surname withheld for privacy reasons) spoke about her experience with the program after attempting suicide about 10 times throughout her life.
"It's been a journey but step by step The Way Back has really saved my life," she said.
"The Way Back literally called me during my last attempt. They called the ambulance. They reassured me they'd be there for me when I got out of hospital.
"The future looks bright. The Way Back, they got me to that point."
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Wellways chief executive Laura Collister said the program is looking to reach all outlying areas across the region.
"The assistance provided to participants in the Great South Coast has been varied and tailored to individual needs, there is no one size fits all," she said.
"Our staff are skilled in providing what is needed for the unique life situations and challenges experienced by the people we work with.
"It is vital that community based, personalised and practical support such as The Way Back is provided alongside clinical services to reduce distress and assist individuals to address their needs and support their safety."
The 12-week program was made possible by the federal government's allocation of $37.6 million for Beyond Blue to roll out The Way Back in up to 30 sites across the country.
If you, or someone you know is in immediate danger, please call 000, visit your nearest hospital emergency or use any of the crisis helplines:
- Lifeline - 13 11 14 | www.lifeline.org.au
- Suicide Call Back Service - 1300 659 467 | www.suicidecallbackservice.org.au
- Beyond Blue Support Service - 1300 224 636
- Kids Helpline - 1800 551 800 | www.kidshelpline.com.au
- MensLine Australia - 1300 789 978 | www.mensline.org.au
- South West Health Care Primary Mental Health Team Warrnambool - 5564 6000 | After hours: 1800 808 284
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