Calvary Bruce Private $2.5M upgrade increases mental health support services

Hyson Green, the only private dedicated mental health facility in ACT, reopened on 22nd March 2017 after a  $2.5M upgrade to provide increased mental health support services.  The private unit gives eight more people the opportunity to access the Hyson Green 30 day treatment program, increasing the  number of beds from 20 to 28.

Former AFP officer David Tonacia had stayed at Hyson Green six times since being diagnosed with post- traumatic stress disorder on return from the Solomon Islands, where he was sent in 2006 to restore law and order.

He said the centre saved his life.

“The work they do here is invaluable, it recharged my batteries a little bit and each time I went I knew I was going to a safe place,” he said.

“People form friendships in here too, so they have a bigger circle of support when they leave, and that helped me.”

Mr Tonacia and his wife Kate founded not-for-profit organisation Picking Up The Peaces, which raises awareness of PTSD in the ACT.

Mrs Tonacia urged people experiencing mental illness not to be afraid to seek treatment, saying it was a crucial part of a holistic approach to support and recovery.

“David has been hospitalised quite a few times, which has been very confronting for us and our children,” she said.

“He actually stayed here recently just as the new centre was built, and the staff, the facilities and whole new day program were great.”

“There is still so much stigma around mental health in the community, so over the years as we see it get more awareness, we hope support continues to grow, because we need more places people can go [to get help].”

Calvary Chair, the Hon. John Watkins AO, C said there was strong and growing demand for private mental health care in the region.

“With eight new beds it gives us the capacity to provide extra services for the people in the ACT and beyond that who need that care,” he said.

“There has also been a re-design of the service delivery with some more creative services available, and first class infrastructure for people to use as they may stay here for weeks.”

Each room in the centre is single-bed.

The expensive cost and longer lengths of stay for private mental health patients posed challenges to the sector, Mr Watkins said.

But he said the extra layer of support eased some pressure off the ACT public mental health system, which was accessed by more than 10,600 patients last financial year.

Little Company of Mary Healthcare saw an urgent need for more mental health services in the ACT in the findings of the 2016 Chief Health Officer’s report.

It found one in five Canberrans reported having a mental health diagnosis in the past year, a rate higher than the national average. Anxiety remained the most common mental illness reported and had been on the rise since the 2007-2008 financial year.

Statistics from the report, which was released in May 2016, include:

  • 1 in 5 people reported receiving a mental health diagnosis in the preceding 12 months
  • ACT residents (16%) were more likely to report being diagnosed with a mental and behavioural disorder than their national counterparts (14%)
  • Anxiety was the most frequently reported mental health diagnosis and has risen since 2007 – 2008
  • Depressive disorders are associated with increased prevalence of chronic diseases
  • ACT residents are more likely to be diagnosed with a mental disorder than their national counterpart
  • People living with severe mental illness have been estimated to have up to 32 years less life expectancy than the general population.

*The interview above with David and Kate Tonacia was reproduced with the kind permission of The Canberra Times

About Hyson Green

Calvary Bruce Private Hospital’s mental health services are provided from Hyson Green, which is located on the Calvary Bruce Public Hospital’s campus.

Established in 1996 and in its 20th year, the Hospital’s newly renovated Hyson Green unit is the only private dedicated mental health facility in ACT.

The Hyson Green facility supports people with common mental health conditions including anxiety, depression and mood disorders and offers both day and in-patient programs

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