Mental health hub on agenda

Catherine MasseyBusselton Dunsborough Times
A proposed mental health hub for Bussell Highway has been handed to the City of Busselton.
Camera IconA proposed mental health hub for Bussell Highway has been handed to the City of Busselton.

A proposal for a $20 million private mental health hub on Bussell Highway has been handed to the Busselton City council for approval.

The hub would be the first private inpatient mental health facility in the South West, just 1.5km from Busselton’s CBD.

Hub proponent Sophron Healthcare determined the 2.1ha site, adjacent to the St John Ambulance Depot, to be an ideal location to service South West.

“We want to provide a warm and inviting environment for patients undertaking acute mental health treatment in calm rural surroundings,” Sophron Healthcare medical director Dr Stephen Proud said.

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“It’s obvious that locals needing specialised mental health care are currently forced to travel to the Perth metropolitan area,” Dr Proud said. “This means an increase in costs in transport and accommodation, (and) it separates patients from the critical support of family and friends at home,” he said.

If approved, the hub will be built in two stages with 32 beds available under stage one in 2022 and another 30 after stage two.

At full capacity, the hospital is expected to employ around 100 professionals.

“Pathways will be available for local healthcare providers to integrate their services with our offering,” Sophron Healthcare director Dr John Edwards said. 

“We will have capacity for both private and public beds, and we hope to work with the WA Health Department to ensure a range of acute services will be available through Sophron for public patients located in the South West,” Dr Edwards said.

The proposal came just after the State opposition committed $316 million to address critical mental health funding shortfalls across WA.

The plan would include investment in prevention programs, community support services, supported accommodation facilities and targeted youth and workforce programs.

Deputy leader Libby Mettam said the commitment would address the critical gap which exists between “the home and the emergency department”. 

“We have one of the highest rates of suicide in the country among our youth and here in the City of Busselton there is an outstanding need to address this gap to ensure the emergency department is not the only option for our youth in distress,” she said.

Shining Hope committee member Jon Eddy lives in Busselton and said there was a significant shortfall in mental health care in the South West.

“We need to tackle things differently. The emergency room while obviously necessary is not the answer for all mental health crisis. I think it’s would be so much better for early intervention to hopefully stop the need to go to an ER room,” he said.

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