community-based mental health support helps divert people away from emergency departments

Posted on 14th January 2022

Ella*, was at a desperate low when she was connected with cohealth. She had not been taking her medication for months and was experiencing extreme highs and lows related to her bipolar disorder and anorexia nervosa. 

Ella was attending the hospital Emergency Department multiple times each week, and had contacted the CAT team numerous times. 

cohealth mental health worker and Youth Outreach Recovery Coach, Carina Nielsen, says that when she first started working with Ella in late 2021, she was “manic, irrational and everything in-between due to her mental illnesses and being unmedicated”. 

“Ella – like many people with moderate to severe mental health issue – had been bounced around the system, seeing lots of different health practitioners and had been using lots of different services,” said Carina. 

“At a time when she most need consistency and to build a rapport, she was falling through the cracks and her problems snowballed until she was at crisis point and Ella was dialling 000 or heading to hospital for help.” 

“If we can get in early with community-based mental health services that support people while they’re in the community, we can prevent these acute health problems from arising and reduce the demand on hospitals and the ambulance services. It saves a lot of resources and money.” 

When Carina started working with Ella, the primary goals were to get her back on medication and help her address her disordered eating. 

“Ella and I get on very well as I’m very honest with her and consistent in my approach,” said Carina. 

Within four weeks Carina had supported Ella to resume her medication, and started to help her develop coping strategies that she could use when she encountered hurdles. 

“She is now taking her medications twice daily and has even agreed to an increased dosage. This has made a huge difference in how she presents and how she sees herself.  

“Ella now tells me she “loves my meds and knows they are the best for me” and we can start working on other issues as her thinking is much clearer, and she has a lot more energy.  

“She now eats daily, several times a day. This is amazing for a former anorexic. She looks and sounds so much healthier and smiles and laughs a lot during our appointments. That is a wonderful difference.” 

Importantly, Ella has not felt the need to use emergency health services since she was referred to cohealth. 

“She has not attended ER once! She is managing well and feels empowered to call 000 should she need it but so far, she has felt that she has the support she needs from community-based services. This is a fantastic outcome for everyone.” 

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