First-of-its-kind mental health housing project set to ease community care

LONDON: A unique mental health housing project is set to ease hospital pressure and boost community care.

Adelaide’s mental health infrastructure is set to receive a significant upgrade with the construction of a new facility in Clearview, tailored specifically for NDIS patients requiring long-term care. This pioneering project, the first of its kind in South Australia, involves the creation of 16 independent living units, each designed to assist people with psychosocial disabilities. Funded with a $5 million contribution from the State Government, the complex will enable residents to transition from acute hospital settings to a community-based environment that supports their ongoing recovery.

Managed and operated by The Haven Foundation and Mind Australia, the site will offer round-the-clock support. According to Health Minister Chris Picton, the new development is a key component of a “generational investment into mental health services” aiming to enhance patient outcomes and reduce the strain on hospital services. “If people receive the right care that they need and are linked with longer-term supports, it will help them avoid stressful emergency department visits, which is not only better for them but also the health system,” Picton stated.

The individual units will feature a bedroom, built-in wardrobe, kitchen, dining room, bathroom, and either an outdoor courtyard or balcony, along with communal facilities for residents. Significantly, the staff will include peer practitioners who bring their own experiences of mental ill-health to aid and inspire others in their recovery journeys.

In addition to the physical infrastructure, the State Government is also bolstering mental health services through an additional $8 million distributed over four years and a redesign of NGO service programs. This arrangement will extend support to over a thousand more South Australians annually, with mental health NGOs such as UnitingSA, Centacare, Flourish Australia, Life Without Barriers, Mind Australia, and Skylight Mental Health leading these initiatives. These groups will focus on providing intensive crisis and non-acute psychosocial supports designed to improve clients’ wellbeing and foster sustainable community connections.

Newly contracted services this financial year will assist over 2,000 individuals each year, with a particular emphasis on young people’s psychosocial services, a need highlighted in last year’s unmet needs report. These enhancements are also complemented by National Cabinet’s plans to establish additional Foundational Supports, commissioned jointly by the Commonwealth and States.

As a direct response to the independent mental health unmitigated needs report, which outlined the disparities in service provision, this financial commitment is poised to substantially improve access and quality of mental health care across South Australia.

Adding another layer to the state’s mental health strategy, regional South Australia will see an influx of specialised professionals. More than $3 million has been allocated to boost community mental health teams across the region, with dedicated roles for older persons’ mental health specialists introduced at each of the six regional Local Health Networks (LHNs). The first of eight new full-time equivalent positions have already been appointed in several key LHNs, with further recruitment underway to meet the demand in additional regions.

Gill Callister, CEO of Mind Australia, says “The Haven Foundation residences have been shown to reduce hospitalisations and homelessness for people with mental health challenges, providing stability and security and recovery-focused support.” UnitingSA CEO Jenny Hall also praised the initiative, noting the significant impact of extended service hours to support the community effectively.

The community and health system alike await the completion of the Clearview site, expected in the second half of 2025, with anticipation for the positive impacts it will bring to mental health care provision in South Australia.