West Java benefits from Flinders mental health expertise

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Professor Sharon Lawn, centre back, joined (front) Dr Stephanie Agius, Professor Chris Franco and Dr Riza Putra and other delegates from West Java Psychiatric Hospital at the Flinders School of Medicine workshop.

Progressive approaches to delivering care to people with mental health issues, led by Flinders University, are helping to transform community services delivered by a major psychiatric hospital in West Java.

West Java Psychiatric Hospital (WJPH) is changing its services from hospital-based to community-oriented mental health services with help from the Flinders Human Behaviour and Health Research (FHBHR) Unit, which leads research within the Department of Psychiatry at Flinders University.

Those services had been focused on providing acute responses to their community’s mental health needs rather than prevention, promotion and rehabilitation approaches that are needed for long-term community wellbeing.

A training program presented by Flinders University for an official WJPH delegation in early April included workshops in community mental health that have opened the door to further collaborations between the two institutions.

Flinders’ customised training program matched the West Java Government’s need to transform its mental health services from hospital-based mental health services to community-based mental health services by using a recovery model.

The hospital is owned by the West Java Provincial Government with the entire regional budget for mental health in the province allocated to WJPH. It has a 235 bed capacity for inpatients with approximately 482 employees.

Led by the hospital’s Vice-Director, Dr Riza Putra, the workshops involved nine WJPH delegates with diverse professional backgrounds – psychiatrists, mental health nurses, a human resource manager and a researcher.

Dr Emi Patmisari, a Flinders alumnus and employee of the West Java Provincial Government, co-ordinated the program and the visit.

“With the number of visits to the outpatient unit at WJPH having increased from 30,643 in 2011 to 35,986 in 2014, the insights we’ve been able to gain from the Flinders training program has come at an opportune time,” Dr Patmisari said.

“Services previously focused on treatment mainly involving medications with less attention on prevention, promotion and rehabilitation,” she said.

Delegates participated in presentations and interactive workshops led by FHBHR Unit Director Professor Sharon Lawn.

“There is an enormous opportunity for this team of change champions from West Java to make significant progress with their goal for services there because they can learn about the many challenges the Australian mental health system has faced, and use such lessons to accelerate the success of their efforts, and to establish a solid recovery-focused community mental health approach,” Professor Lawn said.

“Our program consisted of an overview of the Mental Health Service in South Australia with a focus on consumer participation and addressing stigma as central to a recovery approach, low intensity cognitive behaviour, community rehabilitation, mental health care planning and integration of care and communication across primary care and hospital care.”

It also included community mental health in rural and remote communities and child and adolescent mental health.

Policy issues were explored, with sessions looking at the community mental health nursing role and education for mental health professionals.

The delegation visited the Trevor Parry Centre and the Noarlunga GP Plus Super Clinic to see how mental health services are delivered in SA. Presentations were also given by the Southern Adelaide Local Health Network.

These successful workshops will be followed up in a trip to West Java by Flinders representatives later this year.

In late May, Flinders University will joins the State Government’s official trade mission to Indonesia travelling to Bandung with SA business people, government and education officials to deepen trade and knowledge exchange between SA and West Java.

Flinders University and WJPH will continue to build on direct and mutually beneficial areas of exchange under the SA-West Java Sister State Memorandum of Understanding re-signed in September 2015

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