- What are Personal Helpers and Mentors?
- How much funding is available?
- How many workers will be funded?
- Why is there a need for a service like Personal Helpers and Mentors?
- When will the service start?
- What will the Personal Helpers and Mentors do?
- Where will the Personal Helpers and Mentors be located?
- Who will benefit from the service?
- How will people access the service?
- How will a person be assessed as being able to receive support under Personal Helpers and Mentors?
- What types of skills or training will Personal Helpers and Mentors need to have?
- Who will be funded to deliver Personal Helpers and Mentors?
Personal Helpers and Mentors aim to assist people who have a severe functional limitation resulting from a severe mental illness to better manage their daily activities and to access a range of appropriate services/supports when they need them. This is an initiative of the Council of Australian (COAG) National Action Plan on Mental Health 2006 to 2011.
Funding of $284.8 million over five years to 2011 is available for approximately 900 Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) Personal Helpers and Mentors.
Approximately 900 Full-time Equivalent (FTE) Personal Helpers and Mentors will be funded over the five years to 2011:
- 2006-07 - approximately 140 FTE Personal Helpers and Mentors
- 2007-08 - approximately 260 FTE Personal Helpers and Mentors
- 2008-09 - approximately 400 FTE Personal Helpers and Mentors
- 2009-10 - approximately 100 FTE Personal Helpers and Mentors
NB: Original budgets were for 100 FTE in 2006-07 and 300 FTE in 2007-08. The variation is due to changes in implementation.
Mental health is a serious problem for the entire Australian community. Some people who have been affected by severe mental illness can be greatly helped by having a support person who can help them manage their daily lives and become more integrated into the community. This type of support can be provided in conjunction with clinical support or on its own.
The first 28 round one demonstration sites became operational from May 2007 and a further 48 round two sites became operational from November 2007. The additional 79 sites were announced on 25 February 2009 and became operational from June 2009. The selection process Round 4 is currently underway.
The role of the Personal Helpers and Mentors can be broadly described under three main types of activities:
- Direct involvement - including assessment of needs, developing Individual Recovery Plans and linking with clinical case management, advocacy, peer support, personal development, supporting family relationships, mediation, supporting people to manage their daily activities
- Referrals to relevant services - including to housing support, employment and education, drug and alcohol rehabilitation, independent living skills programs, clinical services, allied and other mental health services as required
- Monitoring and reporting - (non face-to-face) including monitoring participant referrals, monitoring progress against Individual Recovery Plans and reporting.
The Personal Helpers and Mentors teams within service provider organisations will be located in sites across all states and territories. The sites are located in both metropolitan and rural, remote and regional areas (referred to as non-metropolitan areas for funding purposes).
Personal Helpers and Mentors will target people 16 years and over who have a severe functional limitation resulting from a severe mental illness (and their families and carers).
There could be many pathways for people to access the service including through (but not limited to):
- clinical pathways ie GPs, psychologists, psychiatrists, hospitals
- drug and alcohol services
- housing and homelessness services
- family relationship centres
- carer support services
- Centrelink and other Australian Government services
- self, family or carer referral
- community mental health services
- psychiatric disability rehabilitation services
- disability employment network services
- education services
- personal support program
- peer support programs
- Job Network
- youth-related pathways.
A functioning assessment instrument will be used to determine participant eligibility. The functioning assessment instrument will assess the participant's functional capacity in managing their daily activities, their ability to live independently in the community and the presence of any recovery risk factors, such as co-morbid conditions, lack of social supports or criminal justice involvement.
It is expected that successful service delivery organisations are recruiting Personal Helpers and Mentors with a range of backgrounds, qualifications, skills and knowledge in working with people with severe mental illness.
Whatever formal qualifications the worker holds, requirements for the team will include a strong participant focussed and recovery based philosophy, knowledge of the needs and expectations of people with a severe functional limitation resulting from a severe mental illness, the capacity to help participants link in with other relevant community resources, and the ability to work in partnership with participants, families and carers and other social and community networks.
Each Personal Helper and Mentor team will be led by a team leader who will hold additional experience and qualifications that will enable them to provide supervision and debriefing to team members, and manage other responsibilities as required.
Funding is for non-government organisations that have demonstrable experience in working with people with a severe mental illness in a community context.