St Stephen’s launches new mental health services


St Stephen’s Hospital is proud to announce the launch of mental health services on the Fraser Coast in collaboration with The Sunshine Coast Private Hospital this week.

General Manager and Director of Nursing Amanda Cruwys said outpatient day services would soon be delivered from St Stephen’s Hospital in Hervey Bay in response to local needs identified in a 2014 survey of general practitioners.

“The introduction of mental health services at St Stephen’s Hospital has taken 18 months of planning,” Ms Cruwys said ahead of R U Ok? Day, 8 September, and World Suicide Prevention Day, 10 September.

“We’re proud to now be adding this vital new service to the Fraser Coast community and continuing our commitment to providing quality care to the people of this region.”

In 2014, Fraser Coast and Wide Bay-Burnett general practioners were invited to complete a survey that aimed to determine the need for outpatient mental health services on the Fraser Coast.

The survey revealed more than 50% of GP’s caseloads involved patients with mental health problems.

About half of the GPs who responded to the survey indicated between 70% and 90% of their patients presented with anxiety or depression. Almost one fifth of the GPs indicated between 70% and 90% presented with schizophrenia while slightly less indicated between 70% and 90% presented with either drug or alcohol problems.

Acute stress disorder and sleep disturbance were also reported.

Ms Cruwys said GPs could now refer patients to credentialed consultant psychiatrists for assessment and referral to the new outpatient day programs at St Stephen’s Hospital.

“Where clinically needed, Cooinda Mental Health Services at The Sunshine Coast Private Hospital will provide assessment, admission and evidence-based treatment for private inpatients and outpatients referring from St Stephen’s.

“General practitioners can contact Cooinda Mental Health Service for referrals to the program by phoning 1300 780 413. More information will be provided on the program schedule and admission process.

“Cooinda Mental Health Service is the largest and most comprehensive private mental health service on the Sunshine Coast and offers treatment for mood, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorders as well as peri-natal services and addictions.”

St Stephen’s outpatient mental health services will include:
• Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Anxiety Disorders
• Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Low Mood and Depression

These 10-week group therapy sessions combine theoretical knowledge with practical skills and peer support. Group therapy is a form of psychotherapy in which a group of patients come together to work through their problems with one or more psychotherapists. 

There are different types of group therapy including groups in which the interactions between patients are analysed and discussed (called process orientated groups), and groups in which patients are taught specific cognitive and behavioural skills that help them to overcome their anxiety (called psychoeducational groups). St Stephen’s sessions will be the latter – psychoeducational.

Department of Veteran Affairs (DVA) credentialed veterans are entitled to be referred to either program. Work cover and self-funded patients may also be eligible to access these services.

St Stephen’s was Australia’s first fully integrated digital hospital and is home to some of the Fraser Coast’s leading specialists in areas such as gynaecology, urology, orthopaedics, ophthalmology and general surgery.

The not-for-profit organisation is owned by the Uniting Church and is a member of UnitingCare Health, which includes The Wesley Hospital and St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital in Brisbane and The Sunshine Coast Private Hospital in Buderim.

Photos: St Stephen’s Hospital General Manager and Director of Nursing Amanda Cruwys and Psychologist Berquin Human.

Contact: Adriana Leonardi, Director of Support Services, 0417 296 557.

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