Wesley Hospital Kogarah welcomes expansion of mental health services

Targeting healthy minds: Wesley Hospital Kogarah's director of psychological services, John Kearney, welcomes an expansion of mental health support services. Picture: John Veage
Targeting healthy minds: Wesley Hospital Kogarah's director of psychological services, John Kearney, welcomes an expansion of mental health support services. Picture: John Veage

Kogarah and Caringbah will have more mental health support services for those not eligible to receive funding under the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

The National Psychosocial Support program, to be provided by Flourish Australia, aims to assist people who are experiencing severe mental illness resulting in reduced psychosocial functional capacity.

It will provide services from several sites across Sydney including in St George and Sutherland Shire.

People will be able to get more individual help and have access to group programs that are facilitated by mental health and peer workers, and volunteers. 

Programs will build on social skills, family connections, managing daily living and financial needs, education, physical well-being and managing substance abuse. 

Drug addiction is among the major contributors of mental health disorders, says the director of psychological services at Wesley Hospital Kogarah, John Kearney. 

Dr Kearney, who helps patients recover from trauma-related illness, anxiety and mood disorders, says there is room in the community for more mental health support services, particularly for people struggling with drug and alcohol abuse. 

He says a major problem is the high percentage of mental health patients being admitted into hospital, and struggling to stay afloat upon being discharged.

Wesley Kogarah helps to tackle this by offering day and drop-in night programs for people post-hospital care. 

"Recently we had a patient with for who was in hospital for three months. She kept relapsing, became homeless and couldn't get into a rehab clinic," Dr Kearney said.

"Often these people leave hospital and because they haven't worked in a while, they de-humanise very quickly, and find it challenging to do basic things like clean up their house.

"If we can manage to have people in hospital for less time, that is better for mental health outcomes. If we can reduce hospital time, clinically it helps people have mastery over their issues."

He says there is a growing need for resource support in mental health, particularly for those suffering from opioid dependence.

"There are many wonderful services out there in the community, but they are pushed," he said.

"There is a rise in prescription and methamphetamine use. People don't realise how powerfully addictive codeine can be.

"And what's happening at music festivals is terrible. We do see a lot of young people at our hospital. They think they are invincible and just keep partying. Unfortunately, the younger they are, often it means the more likely we will see them again."

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