Integrated Mental Health and AOD Service Atlas

While the dramatic political events were happening in Canberra on Thursday, I joined the Eastern Melbourne Primary Health Care Collaborative to officially launch the Integrated Mental Health and Alcohol and Drug Service Atlas. This is the 12th such atlas on mental health and AOD services in Australia and one of about 40 regional atlases completed globally in the past 15 years. Atlases using the same methodology focused on homelessness (SE Melbourne) and chronic conditions (Western NSW PHN) have also been completed.


The EMPHN Integrated Atlas is the region’s first inventory of available services specifically targeted for people with a lived experience of mental illness and those with AOD related

issues. Utilising a standard classification system, the Description and Evaluation of Services and Directories in Europe for Long-Term Care (DESDE-LTC) model, the service data in this Atlas represents a

snapshot in time creating a benchmark for future service planning evaluations. The application of this international evidence-based classification tool, and supporting methodology, enables accurate comparisons with other regions both within Australia and internationally, providing a sound basis for long-term service planning, advancing efforts towards integrated care and improved outcomes for services users.


The overall pattern of mental health care across EMPHN is inherently similar to other areas of Australia and include the:

• Absence of acute community Residential Care,

• Absence of acute Day Care or social-related acute Outpatient Care, and

• Relatively low levels of non-acute Day Care and supported accommodation initiatives.


In addition, there were also a number of patterns that may require further investigation including the:

• Level of Residential Rehabilitation and Acute Inpatient care, and

• High levels of non-acute Outpatient Care.


This Atlas provides a baseline measure of service availability at a critical time, at the beginning of the full roll-out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme and significant changes in commissioning of services at state and federal levels. It is the ‘before’ picture against which changes to the system can be measured and evaluated in the future. As such, it not only serves as a planning tool, but also as a measure of change. This Atlas provides greater awareness and understanding of the local infrastructure and the opportunity for EMPHN to best target its resources to meet population needs. This will allow it to work in partnership with service providers across the region to apply targeted, cost efficient interventions, to try new approaches and to innovate to best support the health and wellbeing of its community.


Already some of the comments posted online on the Atlas, point to its value and the significant difference for regional planning.

Ø  Fantastic work John. Surpasses WHO Atlas in depth and detail IMO! … Need this Nationally, as a baseline to bring all the Determinants of poor Mental Health, diverse treatment methodologies, future directions to prevent poor MH, just to name a few uses. Thanks Greg Franklin


  • This is great John. Certainly like the important addition of social determinants of health and wellbeing included and the fact that we need to link the factors such as examples Housing, poverty, unemployment, ect. The impact the latter have on MH. Pauline Miles