New mental health building will deliver 'unique model of care'

24 February, 2014

A partnership between the University of Sydney and the NSW government will deliver much needed mental health hospital beds and a range of services, including research beds, in a new purpose-designed building supporting rehabilitation for up to 1900 people experiencing mental health issues each year.

The Missenden Mental Health Unit is a $67 million project co-funded by the NSW government and the University to be completed by the end of 2014.

Dignitaries including the NSW Minister for Mental Health, the Hon. Kevin Humphries MP, visited the Camperdown site recently for a "topping out" ceremony celebrating reaching the highest point in the construction of the project.

The new facility will deliver inpatient and community-based mental health services for the Sydney, Leichhardt and Marrickville local government areas. It will also provide regional outreach specialist consultation services for all of NSW from its Missenden Road, Camperdown location.

Unique in Australia, the unit will also include dedicated research beds under the auspices of the University of Sydney's Brain and Mind Institute (BMRI), enabling innovative mental health services to be trialed and developed. The University's Centre for Eating and Dieting Disorders (CEDD) will also have a research presence within the new hospital. The University has world-class academics in eating disorders leading this research to improve prognosis, outcomes, and care while contributing to the scientific literature in this field.

University of Sydney Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), Professor Jill Trewhella said: "The decision to build this facility represents an entirely new approach to research, education and training in mental health.

"We believe the partnership between the University, through the BMRI, and the NSW government, through its local health district, will significantly foster research translation, encourage innovation in health services and promote health care and research leadership in NSW," Professor Trewhella said.

"Mental health issues impact individuals and their families in a variety of ways. We need to be doing more to prevent and alleviate these impacts, and in doing so we contribute to the quality of life and productivity of our communities. We look forward to the benefits that this partnership will bring."

More than 60,000 people living in the Sydney, Leichhardt and Marrickville local government areas experienced mental health issues in 2013, with nearly 700 people treated at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital for mental health and related illnesses.

BMRI Executive Director, Professor Ian Hickie, said: "This is a new and exciting phase for the BMRI. Through this facility, we will be able to push the frontiers of knowledge in neuroscience and mental health, and create partnerships that foster the translation of quality research into improved healthcare. Our major focus will be on much improved care for young people experiencing their first episode of major mood or psychotic disorders.

"Once the new unit is operational, we will create an innovative research and teaching environment, spanning mental health and physical care particularly in the areas of eating disorders, child mental health and depression. Each of these areas are ripe for new innovative research programs, particularly in purpose-designed sub-acute care environments.

"The new Missenden Mental Health Unit will provide a world class collaborative research and learning environment in which we can lead research that meets community needs," Professor Hickie said.