Stories on the TV that speak of the mental health impacts of COVID-19/other issues nearly always end with words to the effect of, “And if this has raised any issues for you help is always available. Phone Lifeline on 13 11 14.”
In keeping with Mindframe media guidelines, it’s good that help-seeking information is included in these stories, but it doesn’t cater for the full spectrum of mental health problems.
Lifeline, for example, is a crisis support line, akin to lifesavers plucking people from the dangerous surf. It’s vital, but it’s not a “one size fits all” service (nor should we expect it to be).
Anyway, most of us would rather early intervention/prevention rather than crisis intervention. It’s better to learn how to swim than rely on someone saving you from drowning.
The Stepped Care Model of Mental Health
The Stepped Care model aims to ensure that people have streamlined access to the right services for their needs over time, and as their needs change. There is more information about this available from more reputable sources than my blog, eg: Northern Queensland Primary Health Network, Connect to Wellbeing, or your local public health network.
A short, amateurish, overview is this:
If you’re on the lowest (blue) step, you’re doing OK. Keep those healthy relationships and habits going.
If you’re on the second-lowest (green) step you probably should be more intentional about protecting your social and emotional wellbeing. Chat to people you love/trust, and see if any of the digital resources at Head To Health match where you’re at.
If you’re on the middle (yellow) step it’s definitely time to connect with someone. If you’re a Nurse or Midwife that could be NMSupport in the first instance, if you’re in North Queensland you may consider contacting Connect to Wellbeing. Elsewhere you may need to google or go via healthdirect re equivalent services.
If you’re on the second-top (orange) step, don’t muck-about: make a double appointment to see your GP. S/he won’t necessarily reach straight for the prescription pad. The GP may discuss making a Mental Health Treatment Plan, which should include your goals and – if you and your GP agree it’s worth a try – a referral to a specialist mental health professional.
If you’re on the top (red) step you will almost certainly want to make contact with your local mental health service. In Queensland phone 1300 64 2255 (1300 MH CALL). Outside of Queensland you should be able to track-down your local service via healthdirect.
One. Step. Beyond.
This blog post was inspired by chatting with hospital colleagues who were not familiar with the Stepped Care Model of Mental Health. Many thanks to these terrifically impressive people who are definitely NOT heroes: they’re just everyday compassionate, creative, funny, clever and skilled health professionals who – in a crisis – will go one step beyond to support the people who need it.
One last thing. If, like me, you have a foot one step beyond your usual step, perhaps the jaunty Madness (1979) song “One Step Beyond” will provide temporary distraction and cheer. 🙂
Thanks very much for visiting. As always your feedback is welcome in the comments section below.
Paul McNamara, 30 July 2020
Short URL meta4RN.com/step