Service aims to address mental health’s ‘missing middle’

‘Missing middle’ is a term that has been used in increasing frequency over the past decade to refer to people whose needs are not currently being met by mental health services. 

1 Jul 2022

 Service aims to address mental health’s ‘missing middle’

People who fall into the ‘missing middle’ are often too unwell for primary care, but not unwell enough for acute services. They may have accessed a mental health service in the past 12 months, but these weren’t able to provide the duration of care needed, or the level of specialist support appropriate for more complex mental ill health. 1

More often than not, the ‘missing middle’ end up in hospital emergency departments because they are unable to find appropriate or timely support in the community. And as anyone who has visited or worked in an ED knows, these environments - with their heavy sensory loads and often loud and frantic waiting rooms - can be overwhelming at the best of times, and only serve to increase distress of a person experiencing acute mental health symptoms.

Midland Head to Health adult mental health centre opened its doors in March to people seeking support for mild to moderate mental health concerns.

The service is part of an Australian Government funded trial under the PHN program of eight centres nationally, devised in response to an identified need in each of the chosen locations for additional support for people experiencing distress and whose condition may be too complex for many existing primary care services.

Located at 23 Old Great Northern Hwy in the Midland town centre and operated by St John of God Social Outreach, Midland Head to Health provides a new approach in the mental health system and removes some of the traditional barriers for people seeking support for mental health concerns by offering a free, community-based walk-in service available from 10am – 8pm every day of the year.

Midland Head to Health Manager Ruth Lawrence said the centre was designed as a friendly, welcoming environment and had a range of mental health professionals and support staff on hand to provide advice and support, along with assessment and short- to medium-term treatment if needed.

“By creating a single point of entry that connects people to the most appropriate support services without requiring a referral or appointment, and with extended opening hours, we’re removing some of the most significant barriers to accessing appropriate and timely mental health care,” Ruth said. 

“In addition to assessment and one-to-one counselling, our multidisciplinary team also provides a range of therapy groups and services such as art therapy, peer support and a dedicated clinician specialising in the treatment of alcohol and other drugs. 

“We worked extensively with consumers, family members and carers, local health professionals and service providers, local government and the wider community to ensure the new centre reflected local needs and delivers the best possible outcomes for the community.”

Midland Head to Health has ample street parking and is just a short walk from public transport. While referrals are not necessary, they are welcome, with further information available on how these can be provided.

1. Orygen. Defining the Missing Middle.