Mental health disconnect

READMISSION rates for people treated in hospital for mental health disorders are “staggeringly high” says private health insurer nib – and there are too few services to help them to stay well at home.

Nib paid $27 million in benefits to customers to treat mental health issues in 2014/15, an increase of 14 per cent.

Between 650 and 700 people were treated in hospital, most for depression or anxiety, and nearly half were readmitted within 12 months, saysnib group executive benefits and provider relations, Dr Justin Vaughan.

“We have had a staggeringly high number of readmissions, about half, or 48 per cent being re-admitted for a second or third time,’’Dr Vaughan said.

‘’We believe a lot of the issue is lack of integration between services in hospital and on discharge. Itis an issue that’swell recognised throughout the mental health sector.There is a disconnect between hospital and community servicesand people are often left to their own devices when they are released from hospital.”

Mental health advocates agree that there are too few ‘mid-range’services available in the community between acute care and lower intensity care, such as counselling.

The issues are highlighted inHunter Central Coast Primary Health Networksplanning documents pointingto theHunter New England region’shigher rates of self-reported mental health problems than the NSW average,and higher rates of intentional self-harm hospitalisations in young people.

Nib will help bridge the gaps between customers’GP, mental health specialist and acute careby supporting early intervention services and out-of-hospital programs.

“There’s no denying the benefits of in-hospital care for patients suffering from certain mental health disorders,” Dr Vaughan said.

“Butwith readmissions accounting for almost half of all nib customer episodes last financial year, there’s a real need tocover programs that provide discharge support, as well as prevention services.”

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