Improving Mental Health Services

24 Mar 2017

In 2016 St Vincent’s Darlinghurst launched the Centre for Family-Based Mental Health Care, in partnership with the University of Sydney. The Centre is focussed on addressing the need for a recovery-orientated approach to mental health care with a stronger focus on young people, early intervention, and involving families and carers in treatment as well as service design. 

To that end, the team have introduced the Open Dialogue Program, an innovative approach to mental health care that has seen impressive recovery rates abroad.

Open Dialogue is a program that brings the patient together with their family, friends and health professionals. Together, they explore their different perspectives on the patients’ psychosis in a safe and supported space. It operates on the basis of core humanistic values of openness, social inclusion, and personal autonomy and genuine user and family involvement in the decision-making processes.

Led by Professor Niels Buus, this flexible approach to each individual and their love ones includes mobile intervention teams and peer supported discussion, and has the capacity to reduce alienation of patients’ and their families by avoiding paternalistic decisions and interventions. For many, contact with mental health services can be disruptive and confrontational. The Open Dialogue Program will ensure that families are met by an open and genuinely listening approach that will encourage better use of health care services, with improved outcomes for patients and their families.

“It is exciting to be part of a great team of carers, service users, mental health professionals, and university academics in implementing Open Dialogue at St Vincent’s. We all look forward to offering Open Dialogue to families and networks affected by mental health problems”, said Professor Buus.