New clinic helps people in distress find a brighter future

Acute Care Team psychologist Bridie James and provisional psychologist Natalie Todd
West Moreton Health’s Acute Care Team psychologist Bridie James and provisional psychologist Natalie Todd will support people accessing the new Allied Health Brief Therapy Clinic.

A new clinic to help people in distress will launch next month as part of West Moreton Health’s response to suicide in the region.

The Allied Health Brief Therapy Clinic will give people in suicidal distress who are presenting to an emergency department timely access to a team of allied health professionals to start supportive therapy – and recovery – sooner.

The clinic is the first service of its kind to be offered by West Moreton Health and will be simultaneously trialled at two other Queensland locations. It will bring together West Moreton Health psychologists, social workers and occupational therapists who will work with people having suicidal thoughts to begin therapy within 72 hours of presentation to an emergency department.

Acute Care Team psychologist Bridie James said the pilot clinic was based on a model from Monash Health in Victoria which had showed promising results in improving access to appropriate care for people at risk of suicide.

“The Allied Health Brief Therapy Clinic concentrates on supportive, future-focused therapies and aims to increase people’s feeling of hopefulness and confidence to manage what’s happening in their life,’’ Ms James said.

“Working with people to identify their goals and hopes for the future, rather than only focusing on the symptoms of their distress is a really effective way of helping those with suicidal thoughts to recover,” she said.

Ms James said a person presenting to the emergency department in suicidal distress would be assessed by an Emergency Department Acute Care Team mental health clinician who would assess and respond to their immediate risk and safety needs before referring consumers to the Allied Health Brief Therapy Clinic to begin treatment.

“There is a real myth that suicidal thoughts are always associated with a mental health condition, but you don’t have to have a mental illness to experience a crisis that causes suicidal thoughts.

“Big events in a person’s life, which can happen to anyone, such as a relationship breakdown, the death of a loved one, or financial distress, are common reasons why someone might have thoughts of suicide.”

“Our role as therapists at the clinic is to help people manage their current distress, but to also look beyond the immediate crisis to consider the possibilities of a brighter future,” Ms James said.

“For example, someone who is experiencing a lot of anxiety, and that may include having suicidal thoughts, might be struggling to leave the house. The thought of going out to a job interview, or even to visit a friend, might be overwhelming,’’ Ms James said.

“Instead of focusing only on the problems in their life today we help people to think about what they want for their future. If anxiety wasn’t an issue in the future what would they be doing? What do they want for their future?

“We find when people build hope for their future they feel more motivated and more able to take the steps to achieve what they want, whether that is the confidence to visit a friend or to start a new job.’’

The clinic will be run in Ipswich at Floresco Mental Health and Wellbeing Centre, which works in partnership with West Moreton Health to deliver mental health services, and will help people transition or connect to other support services in the community.

If this has raised issue or concerns for you please phone 1300 MH CALL (1300 64 2255).