Exchanging knowledge: Guangdong, Henan, Jiangsu

April 26, 2013

From 15 – 17 April, AAMH provided training to fourteen Directors and Deputy Directors of hospitals from three different Chinese provinces – Guangdong, Henan and Jiangsu. Interested in the management of community-based mental health systems, the group comprised of senior hospital administrators from both general and mental health hospitals, indicating the increasing priority of mental health across China’s healthcare landscape.

The three provinces are in very different stages of reforming their mental health systems, but all lack adequate funding, suffer a shortage of mental health workers, and lack sufficient administrative support. Guangdong has a more developed system and has been a model for other Chinese cities. Their services include outreach programs in the community after discharge, recovery and rehabilitation programs that aim to equip consumers with life skills and programs for job training and employment opportunities.

The training provided an overview of the changes and challenges that took place in the 1990’s when Victoria was undergoing it’s own mental health reform. The principles and framework underpinning the Victorian mental health service delivery, as well as operational factors including legislation, funding sources and allocation were explored. Service flow charts from new service users to rehabilitation and support services and programs were also touched on.

Victoria’s former Chief Psychiatrist, Dr. Ruth Vine, also covered clinical governance, data collection, reporting, funding, and KPIs. The training took place just before China’s first national mental health law came into effect on 1st May 2013 so there was much interest in Australia’s mental health legislation.

Exploration of the patient journey displayed the integration of mental health services into the community starting from St. Vincent’s hospital’s entry point ‘triage’, to the acute inpatient service, The Footbridge and Mind’s Edith Pardy as examples of residential rehabilitation housing and their support and recovery programs (including independent living skills and housing support), to outreach and continuing care services. Training at mental health promotions service beyondblue providing insight into its role in raising community awareness, understanding and empowerment as well as the importance of community partnerships.

The bringing together of three provinces provided the opportunity for active discussion in reflecting upon their current services and how certain aspects of the Victorian mental health system can be adapted in their own provinces within their available human and financial resources.