RFDS Victoria is pleased to publish the findings of research study A Psychological Service: A collaborative way to address access to mental health services, which evaluated the Flying Doctor Wellbeing mental health pilot program for residents of Far East Gippsland.
Principal Researcher: Keith Sutton, Monash University
Associate Researchers: Molly Stilo and Lauren Zappa, Royal Flying Doctor Service Victoria; Amanda Proposch, Gippsland PHN.
Far East Gippsland has some of the most isolated communities within Victoria, and access to mental health services is limited. During 2017, the Royal Flying Doctor Service Victoria (RFDS), with funding support from Gippsland Primary Health Network (Gippsland PHN), piloted an initiative designed to improve access to mental health support. This program is known as Flying Doctor Wellbeing (FDW). Operating within an integrated and stepped care service model, Flying Doctor Wellbeing uses a blended model of mental healthcare delivery.
Using a mixed methods approach, the FDW initiative was evaluated to determine whether the blended approach, delivered within an integrated and stepped care service model, improved mental health service access for residents of Far East Gippsland. This research project ‘A Psychological Service: A collaborative way to address access to mental health services’ had ethics approved by Latrobe Regional Hospital Human Research Ethics Committee (Project 2017-06). The study sought to understand service impacts from the perspective of service users/clients of the service, local bush nurses, steering and advisory committee members and other service providers.
Overall, the evaluation findings indicate that the Flying Doctor Wellbeing mental health pilot program has improved access to mental health services for residents of Far East Gippsland.
Key findings include:
- Improved access to mental health services was related to:
o Local availability through integration with local bush nursing centres.
o Lessening service user’s concerns about confidentiality and anonymity through the use of a visiting mental health practitioner.
- Service users gained positive mental health outcomes.
- Barriers to service access included:
o Connectivity and technology problems
o Attitudes to the use of telehealth.
- Service users who engaged in telehealth sessions were comfortable the service.