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International Mental Health Conference: Overview

​Yesterday was the 19th International Mental Health Conference in the Gold Coast where I attended a number of seminars delivered by key speakers who commented on issues and potential solutions to problems within the mental health industry. As a ‘recruiter’ I think it’s important to understand the problems posed to the healthcare industry so the talks proved invaluable learning and allowed me to further understand how I can complement the hard working teams by providing additional resource and support.

Some of the facts and figures mentioned were astounding; $467 million spent each year on healthcare, 600,000 health related services used each day – a number that increases to 1.3 million if you include dealings with pharmacies, 406,000 GP visits a day and 6,000 elective surgeries. Ultimately, everyone has different needs - one size doesn’t fit all - treatment needs to be assessed on a case by case basis. Healthcare is a complex industry with numerous contributing factors such as age, access to services, physical environment, social environment, wealth and individual behavior. Australia is a vast country and I found it interesting that initiatives are underway to address this and make healthcare more accessible – it is a world leader of internet treatments for mental health conditions. In recent years the use of web based programs and resources to provide and augment mental health care has become increasingly acceptable to patients and practitioners. It is providing a much needed solution to face-to-face treatment for people who can’t access healthcare services. e-mental Health can provide a useful low-intensity option for many people with mild to moderate conditions.

The World Health Statistics Report indicated there were 19.3 million nurses and midwives globally with just over 400,000 registered in Australia – just 20,000 working principally in mental health. There is a huge gap in the treatment of mental health patients and industry professionals are working tirelessly to resolve this. Mental illnesses are the third leading cause of disability burden in Australia, accounting for an estimated 27% of the total years lost due to disability. A report in 2014 found increases in Aboriginal rates of youth suicide, anxiety and depression, as well as cognitive disability and mental health among offenders and perinatal mental health. It is believed that improving mental health outcomes will have a knock-on effect to other areas including reducing high incarcerations and substance abuse rates.

The mental health system has been described as fragmented and while studies propose developing an integrated, better coordinated system, people with a mental illness still tend to fall through the cracks. It’s important to make it easier for people to navigate their local health systems, ensure more responsive services that meet the needs of patients and that care is built around the needs of the individual. Yesterday at the conference Bill Miliotis emphasised the importance of starting with the consumer outcome and building the system backwards from there – an approach which seems obvious yet refreshing, proving that compassionate care is the overriding consideration. With this, he highlighted the importance of gaining an overview of the concepts of an integrated system, their relationship to recovery and clarity of who holds responsibility.

I’ve placed healthcare professionals for around ten years – originally general nurses in Nottinghamshire in the UK, to all critical care services throughout Greater London, evolving to the whole spectrum of nursing, doctor and AHP sectors, placing registered nurses to GPs to executive managers within major healthcare providers for permanent roles in Australia. For the first couple of years in my career I saw the role as merely transactional but when my dad passed away in hospital and was cared for by an agency nurse, I saw the value of placing the right people in the right roles and the difference they can make. Although I’m not clinical, I still take pride in the role I play – I don’t send out speculative CV’s to endless care providers – I simply find worthy, valuable candidates and find them deserving roles where they can add value to specific institutions. Having heard the way the speakers addressed the mental health industry yesterday, if I can provide a service to alleviate the pressure of finding mental health professionals – or any healthcare professionals – then it is something I take seriously as I understand how this relates to the end service user, which ultimately is the most important thing.

If anyone is interested in collaborating with me and would like assistance in helping to find the best candidates then email or call 02 8252 1108.