8 September 2022

A new initiative to the Grampians region is providing a strong platform to improve the level of care following a suicide attempt.

The Victorian Government's strategic approach to suicide prevention involves five key objectives: build resilience, support vulnerable people, care for the suicidal person, learn what works best and help local communities to prevent suicide.

The Hospital Outreach Post-suicidal Engagement (HOPE) initiative is one of those key strategies. It was originally rolled out in six sites including Barwon Health at Geelong and as part of the Royal Commission into the Victorian Mental Health System, has now been extended to include Grampians Health at Ballarat and Horsham.

HOPE provides extra support and assertive outreach for people leaving an emergency department or medical ward following treatment for an attempted suicide or serious planning or intent. Those eligible for the service will be contacted within 24-hours of hospital discharge and support will continue for up to three months.

Grampians Health’s Mark Thornett is the Operations Director – Grampians Area Mental Health and Wellbeing Service. Mr Thornett said that clients in the HOPE program would be supported to address factors that contributed to the stress in their lives related to their unique circumstances and needs that had led to the person feeling like they had no option but to attempt suicide.

“This can include assistance finding housing and employment, or referral to a range of support services, such as education and training, legal support, Centrelink, drug and alcohol or relationship and family services,” Mr Thornett said.

“The Grampian Health HOPE program works in partnership between Wellways and Grampians Mental Health and Wellbeing Service.

“Wellways provide the assertive wellbeing outreach workers who work with the person and also provide support to the families, friends and carers of people who have attempted suicide.

“The clinical support is provided by the expertise of a nurse practitioner and a nurse practitioner candidate from the Grampians Mental Health and Wellbeing Service,” he said.

Mr Thornett said the HOPE team worked closely with the Ballarat and Horsham Emergency Departments and the Grampians Mental Health and Wellbeing Triage Service.

“They have just commenced work with Goolum Goolum Aboriginal Cooperative in a collaborative approach as the suicide rate in the Aboriginal population is twice that of the general population rate, with young Aboriginal persons being at highest risk.

“We’ve already had plenty of good feedback from this work.”

Mr Thornett said the HOPE program would continue to expand into the future, looking at opportunities to link with and support local GPs.

“This program this is for anyone who has attempted suicide or had suicidal thoughts yet does not need the high intensity support of the Grampians Mental Health and Wellbeing Service but still requires good support to get their lives back on track.”

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