Spotlight on PHNs: Bringing men to the table to talk mental health

7 minute read

In a month focused on mental health, PHNs across the country are doing their bit to improve outcomes.

In what has been a mental health-focused month Hunter New England Central Coast PHN was proud to be the host of the launch of the 150th Men’s Table in Inverell. 

Men’s Table is a national men’s health and suicide prevention charity with Tables in all states and the ACT.  

In the Hunter New England Central Coast PHN alone there are Tables in Armidale (3), Glen Innes, Tamworth (2), Central Coast (3), Narrabri, Newcastle, and now Inverell, with plans to launch more in Taree, Forster, Scone, Hallidays Point, Muswellbrook, Tenterfield and Gunnedah. 

Richard Nankervis, HNECC PHN’s CEO, said the Men’s Table created a sense of belonging, community, peer support and camaraderie that is lacking for many men, “even for some who already have a group of mates”. 

“The PHN is proud to be supporting this valuable and life-saving initiative,” he said. 

“We encourage all men who want to expand their social circle and enjoy deeper conversations, to come and sit at a Table.” 

The Men’s Table regional host, Anthony Garnham said it was “a credit to this group of men who have shown commitment to each other and their community to work at building this Table over time”. 

“Their first meeting was in November 2022 and their care for the men at their Table is very strong,” he said. 

“Building Tables in small towns is not easy and we’re thrilled they now have enough men regularly attending to claim their Table as MT150.” 

The Men’s Table has been helping men in communities across the country to strengthen connection and conversation, along the way improving men’s mental and emotional wellbeing, reducing loneliness and social isolation, and busting the myth that “men don’t talk”. 

A 2022 impact study from surveying men at Tables reported a wealth of benefits, including community belonging, improved mental health and wellbeing, a reduction in less useful approaches to help-seeking and a positive effect on relationships beyond their Tables.  

With seats available at Tables in communities across the country, men interested in joining The Men’s Table can find out more here

Primary Health Tasmania PHN 

According to the Primary Health Tasmania PHN, the roll-out of the eReferral system has now been completed across Tasmania with outpatient services in all public hospitals and more than 85% of non-GP medical specialist organisations across the state using it. 

The Tasmanian DOH says more than 26,000 eReferrals have been received at Tasmanian public outpatient services since the system was implemented earlier this year, with strong take-up among Tasmanian general practices. 

The department has now set up new premises for its Outpatient Central Services hub in Hobart to improve communication between Tasmanian patients and outpatient clinics statewide. 

The DOH says this team communicates with Tasmanian patients, including to confirm appointments and register any cancellations and ensure any cancelled appointments can be filled by another patient on the waiting list. 

The health system schedules more than 50,000 outpatient appointments per month on average statewide, and historically, up to one in 10 appointments have gone unattended, it says. However, that figure is now down to 7.8 per cent of appointments going unattended. 

Each day, the team of operators make and receive an average total of about 1000 calls and register about 200 referrals. 

For more information about the Tasmanian eReferral rollout,  see here

Nepean Blue Mountains PHN 

Mental health was also the focus in Nepean Blue Mountains PHN, with data showing that within the PHN’s catchment up to 17% of the population is likely to experience a mental illness within a 12-month period. In addition, 23% of the population are expected to be at risk of a mental illness.  

Wentworth Healthcare, the provider of the Nepean Blue Mountains PHN, funds a range of community-based mental health services in the region, providing free mental health support for people of all ages.  

“Even though conversations about mental health and wellbeing are now more mainstream, there are still people who need support who continue to suffer alone,” said Wentworth Healthcare CEO, Lizz Reay.  

Ms Reay added that this time of year could also be triggering for those who were impacted by the bushfires that devastated parts of the region 10 years ago, as well as the more recent bushfires and floods.  

“Our community has displayed incredible resilience despite the challenges we have faced. Physical and emotional recovery can take time, so don’t be afraid to reach out to get the help you need,” she said.  

Apart from GPs, another option is the Head to Health phoneline available on 1800 595 212, Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 5pm, excluding public holidays. Callers may be referred to the Penrith Head to Health centre or to the Hawkesbury Head to Health satellite, or anther appropriate local services that meet individual needs.  

An example of another service could be one of the headspace centres that operate in Katoomba, Lithgow and Penrith.  

For those people who prefer to look for their own support online, Wentworth Healthcare has developed the website. This local directory lists over 300 mainly mental health-based services located in the Blue Mountains, Hawkesbury, Lithgow and Penrith areas and can be searched by area and service type.  

“As a funder of mental health services, we are committed to improving the health and wellbeing of our community,” said Ms Reay.  

“We want to make sure that mental health support in our region is accessible and protected so that our community can receive the highest quality care, when and where they need it.” 

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South Eastern NSW PHN 

The Shoalhaven Medical Association was founded over 50 years ago to organise ongoing medical education for GPs. It provided a social network for doctors’ families. It is an independent, not-for-profit organisation run by a committee of local doctors. 

Each year the SMA runs two popular medical conference for GPs and specialists, nurses, allied health workers and medical students. These conferences are free and are funded by sponsors and SMA subscriptions. 

This year the conferences are on the antibiotic crisis and the obesity challenge, and will be held on Saturday 21 October, 9am to 1.15pm, and 2pm to 4pm, in West Nowra. 

For more information contact  

The SMA has now expanded its education to regular webinars with local specialists, and a clinical reasoning webinar presented by GP registrars and medical students from the University of Wollongong.  

Northern Queensland PHN 

Cairns Head to Health is a new service supported by NQPHN and the Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service, offering free support as a walk-in service with no appointment or referral required. 

NQPHN will hold community consultation sessions about the service, beginning with an overview of the Head to Health model, then seeking community insights and ideas for adapting the model to meet local needs. 

People with direct lived or living experience of mental ill-health are invited to attend and offer their insights.  

To ensure the service best meets local needs, NQPHN and CHHHS are hosting two community consultation sessions on Tuesday 31 October at Barlow Park Corporate Room, on the corner of Scott Street and Severin Street in Parramatta Park. The first session runs from 9.30am to 11.30am (Queensland time) and the second from 4.30pm to 6.30pm. 

To register, click here.    

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