The mental health community is buzzing with understandable concern about the impact that the NDIS will have on people who use their services. Much of this derives from the cessation or reduction of state and federal funding for community-based mental health programs, including Mental Health Respite: Carer Support, Partners in Recovery, Personal Helpers and Mentors, and Support for Day to Day Living in the Community.
Not everyone with a psychosocial disability will be eligible for individualised funding in the NDIS. However, for many people, this will be the best option. In these cases, mental health community providers will have a role to play supporting people through the application process.
The Flinders University in collaboration with the Department of Social Services and NDIA has produced “Accessing the NDIS”- a visually beautiful guide that aims to assist mental health providers to support participants on the journey to the NDIS. It explores the premise of the NDIS, eligibility criteria, appeals, resources, and information treating professionals can provide to support the application process. The guide strongly emphasises the importance of documenting the person’s functional capacity and focusing on how the condition impacts day-to-day life. It also contains essential sections on supporting cohorts more likely to experience barriers, such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and culturally and linguistically diverse communities, and continuity of support options for people who are found ineligible.
The guide addresses some of the more challenging domains of the intersection, including how the NDIS fits into a recovery model of mental health and eligibility issues for people with episodic conditions. However, one notable and unfortunate absence is information on supporting participants who find discussing their mental health history for the application and planning processes highly traumatic. The Productivity Commission noted this issue last year, and recommended a psychosocial disability pathway that seeks to avoid re-traumatisation. Despite this absence, the guide does contain essential information for mental health providers. In times of transition, documents that provide cohort-specific guidance are not to be missed. They are the map for the bumpy and uncertain road ahead.