Opinion: Karratha mental health facility is needed

Peter LongPilbara News
The new proposed site for a mental health step up/step down facility in Karratha.
Camera IconThe new proposed site for a mental health step up/step down facility in Karratha. Credit: Facebook

The council is aware of concerns in the community regarding the proposed step-up, step-down mental health facility.

The proposed $9.7 million facility is a State Government development, commissioned by the Mental Health Commission of WA.

Despite some misinformation in the community, the proposed six-bed facility is not a psychiatric hospital or a drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre.

Step-up, step-down facilities offer support programs in a residential setting for people in the community who do not require hospitalisation but need some help to manage their mental health.

They are for short stays of up to 30 days.

This model allows residents to remain close to family and friends and not contribute to feelings of isolation or the stigma of mental health issues which can significantly affect a person’s recovery.

The MHCWA selected the site in Bulgarra after considering a number of sites.

The Nickol Bay Hospital site does not meet the criteria of a step-up, step-down facility.

There are two step-up, step-down facilities in WA — in Joondalup and Rockingham.

There is no evidence of violence associated with these facilities and they have positive relations with their neighbours, according to the MHCWA.

There is also no evidence that small-scale mental health facilities cause property values in the neighbourhood to decline.

Plans for step-up, step-down facilities are underway in Albany, Broome, Bunbury and Kalgoorlie to increase mental health services across regional WA.

There is strong demand for increased mental health services in the Pilbara.

Mental health services are struggling to cope with patient loads, which is worrying for people experiencing anxiety or depression.

Many local people are at risk of mental health issues and although the council has no decision-making authority, the proposed facility would be a valuable addition to our city.

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