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Students help fill void in mental health services

Without further thinking about how to address the mental health needs of people in residential care, these individuals are going to be forgotten, an academic has said.

Professor Sunil Bhar of Swinburne University of Technology said many older people face living with high levels of psychological pain in aged-care facilities. This warning follows the release of the National Review of Mental Health Programmes and Services, which Health Minister Sussan Ley said paints a “disturbing picture”.

Findings from the report showed that older people, “particularly those with a mental illness who live in residential aged-care facilities or access Home and Community Care (HACC) services”, are often “poorly diagnosed, treated and supported”.

Five years ago, a Victorian aged-care provider approached Bhar because it felt that whilst its residents’ physical problems were being catered for, few services addressed their mental health needs. Bhar’s solution was a program that is still running today: postgraduate students from Swinburne offering mental health counselling to residents of aged-care facilities.

Click below to hear Aged Care Insite’s interview with Bhar.

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