New mental health service to help people find a Way Back from suicidal crisis

Western Victoria PHN (WVPHN) has officially launched a new service in the Great South Coast that offers support to people in the critical three-month period following an attempted suicide or suicidal crisis.

In partnership with the Commonwealth Government, Beyond Blue, Wellways and South West Healthcare, WVPHN has commissioned The Way Back Support Service (The Way Back) Great South
Coast with the aim to:

  • Improve access to high-quality aftercare to support at-risk individuals to stay safe;
  • Build capacity of individuals to self-manage distress and improve mental wellbeing;
  • Improve links with clinical and community-based services to meet individual needs and circumstances;
  • Increase social connectedness and links to supportive networks (families, friends, peers and carers); and
  • Improve the capacity and capability of The Way Back workforce to support at-risk individuals.

WVPHN CEO Rowena Clift said: “Western Victoria Primary Health Network is working as hard as possible to identify and fill as many service gaps as possible for our dear community’s mental health needs. Without a national program to address the service gap for people living through the critical three month period following a suicide attempt or crisis, we are delighted to be commissioning this program with our partners for the Great South Coast to foster connection and tailored support networks that help those most in need find a way back to good health. To be able to guide someone through this deeply distressing phase of their lives and help them find their feet again is incredibly important.”

The service model, designed by Beyond Blue, enables participating hospitals and community mental health services to refer people to The Way Back and connect them with a clinical coordinator based at South West Healthcare, who will then determine the individual’s suitability for the service. A referral is then made to Wellways where support coordinators will provide the actual service to the client.

Once a referral has taken place, a Wellways support coordinator will contact the participant within one business day of referral and maintain regular face-to-face contact with the participant over the three months following their discharge from hospital via face-to-face, telephone and/or messaging services.

The Way Back service includes developing a safety plan and a support plan (such as connection with their GP, financial or relationship counselling) and ensures that the participant has support measures in place. The level of support provided is based on individual needs.

Referrals to The Way Back are made by hospital or community mental health staff based on an individual’s suitability for the Service. Staff from health services who can refer people to The Way Back include staff from the emergency departments at Southwest Health Care (Warrnambool), Western District Health Services (Hamilton) and mental health staff located in Warrnambool, Hamilton, Portland and Camperdown.

The service comes to Great South Coast due to an identified service gap for people who have attempted suicide or are experiencing a suicidal crisis in this region and will be offered free of charge
to people of all ages, genders or backgrounds.

Alastair Stott, Chief Services Officer at Beyond Blue said: “The Way Back addresses a significant gap in the current service system and eases people’s distress by guiding them towards the right support and informs them about how to stay safe. Support Coordinators provide people with practical support so they can find their way back to life.”

Laura Collister, Wellways CEO said: “Wellways is proud to partner with Beyond Blue, Western Victoria Primary Health Network and South West Healthcare to provide non-clinical, one-on-one care to members of our local Great South Coast community who have experienced a suicidal crisis and guide them safely through the immediate weeks and months that are crucial to their recovery. Our experience in working directly with local communities to deliver programs will enable Wellways to successfully deliver this important initiative. As a leading not-for-profit mental health services provider, Wellways knows how important personalised supports are for people after a suicide attempt. The support offered through The Way Back provides innovative services, including face-to-face and nonclinical practical supports that can help in a participants future recovery.”

South West Healthcare Craig Fraser CEO said: “South West Healthcare Craig Fraser CEO said: “On September 7, South West Healthcare Mental Health Services commenced an important partnership with Beyond Blue, Western Victoria Primary Health Network and Wellways Australia in the delivery of The Way Back Support Service. This innovative suicide post-vention service will provide practical psychosocial strategies and assistance to recover from highly distressing life circumstances. In time, the service will dovetail with the Hospital Outreach Post-suicidal Engagement (HOPE) initiative, a key outcome of the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health Services.”

The Way Back is underpinned by four guiding principles:

  • Promotes strengths and resilience
  • Psychosocial and clinical needs are complementary
  • Support must be responsive to individual needs
  • Timely support is critical to managing risk

If you, or someone you know is in immediate danger, please call 000, visit your nearest hospital emergency or use any of the crisis helplines: