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Providing Alternative Pathways of Care For People Struggling Out of Hours 
Case Studies Exploring our Two Walk In After Hours Mental Health Services

In response to an identified need for mental health support in the after hours period, Adelaide PHN commissions two Walk In After Hours Mental Health Services across the metropolitan region. These services provide support to those struggling ‘out of hours’ with mental health concerns and offer face to face access to clinicians and staff with a lived experience of mental health.   

Available on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Monday evenings, both Walk In services offer support for those struggling with issues such as stress, grief, depression and anxiety, and can be accessed for free, without referral within a safe community based setting.

Together, these services bridge a gap in access to appropriate after hours mental health care across our region; providing an alternative to hospital attendance and a step up from the level of care available through online or phone based services.

The following two case studies explore how the northern service has been responding to real local need; improving people’s experience of the local health system, supporting better health outcomes and reducing health system costs. 

David’s story:

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David* is 55 years old and has recently been experiencing high levels of stress and anxiety due to protracted divorce legal proceedings. He previously lived in a large home, well maintained and clean, with his wife and daughters.

 

Since separation, he has been staying with his mother while legal proceedings wrap up. David believes his mother is a hoarder, as the home is dirty and very cluttered, and does not have a grasp of her own issues, nor his reasons for feeling uncomfortable or wanting to clean. 

David’s mental health concerns came to a head when he had what felt like a heart attack and was taken to hospital. The hospital diagnosed a panic attack and high level anxiety. The hospital suggested David obtain a Mental Health Treatment Plan (MHTP) from his GP and attend the walk in service as an immediate strategy.

 

David attended the Walk In After Hours Service four times in the space of two weeks. He was able to reflect that his ongoing legal issues were impacting on his feelings of anxiety and lack of control. He was highly motivated to put new strategies in place and to begin problem solving in different areas of his life where he felt he had some level of control.

 

Within a short timeframe, David began practicing yoga and mindfulness, organised a fishing weekend with his brother, and returned to work. This gave him a sense of purpose and also improved his self-esteem.

We know that mental health challenges are not 9:00 – 5:00, the Walk in After Hours Mental Health Service is about providing immediate, in-person care and support for people when they are struggling after hours so they can start planning their next steps

 

- Deb Lee, Adelaide PHN CEO

Sharon’s story:

Sharon* is 49 years old and lives with a diagnosis of schizophrenia. She is not in receipt of the Disability Support Pension and has no National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) plan to fund any additional psychosocial supports.

Sharon lives alone, in close proximity to the northern walk in service, and has limited social supports. Upon presentation, it was clear that Sharon was experiencing loneliness and would often feel overwhelmed and trapped. She has difficulty managing overwhelming emotions and experiences paranoid and obsessive thoughts at times.

Sharon contacts crisis numbers on average two or three times a night, she sometimes wakes between 2:00am and 3:00am and will call a crisis number in order to have someone to talk too. She also actively seeks support by attending the local hospital regularly, not seeming to mind waiting for hours as she is around others.

In March 2020, Sharon attended the Walk In After Hours Service, and agreed to speak with one of the peer support, lived-experience workers. This was very successful and allowed Sharon’s needs to be met through an understanding conversation, rather than embarking on a therapy session with a mental health clinician or seeking support at the local hospital’s emergency department.

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*pseudonyms have been used

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