by Warren Heggarty
ABOVE: ‘They engaged with me one hundred percent…they tried so hard to make me comfortable…how marvelous this clinic is!’ says Martha of ccCHIP. PHOTO BY WARREN HEGGARTY
Martha* speaks very highly of her visit to the new Charles Perkins Centre ccCHIP dedicated to the physical health of people with mental health issues.
People with serious mental health issues live up to 20 or 25 years less on average than other people. Why? Because our physical health needs get overshadowed by our mental health issues.
Gaining referral to the health specialists we need is a complex and lengthy process at the best of times, let alone when we are mentally unwell. As revealed in previous issues of Panorama ccCHIP is a program that endeavours to bring specialists together in a ‘one stop shop’ so that people with mental health issues have a better chance of getting all the physical health help they need.
Now there are three ccCHIPS. There is the ccCHIP Outpatient clinic at Concord Hospital, an inpatient unit also at Concord and a new outpatient service in the Charles Perkins Centre Clinic, Sydney University, near RPA hospital in Camperdown.
So what sort of experience awaits those who get a referral to ccCHIP? Martha* who lives in inner Sydney filled us in.
“How marvellous this clinic is!”
Martha* says that it is so important for people who live with mental health issues to understand the importance of our physical health. It is so important for us to engage with professionals who can support us with our physical health needs.
‘At ccCHIP, we were matched up with a buddy (who I take was a registrar). Some of us also had supporters with us.’
Martha saw four different clinicians in three hours. ‘It was intense, but I was onto it’ she laughs.
‘I found everybody very supportive. They engaged with me one hundred percent. Everything that happened was fully transparent, and I understood one hundred percent what was happening and why. They tried so hard to make me comfortable.’
What did Martha think of the experiencer all up? ‘I thought How marvellous this clinic is! Once you’re on their books, too, they focus on following up, which is essential. I needed a lot of dental work done.’
So the question now is, how do you get referred?
‘My Mental Health Team suggested it to me,’ said Martha. ‘My key worker Jim* was aware of my complex history of chronic physical disease and mental health issues. He felt the support would make a huge effect in my life. So they said would you be willing to consider it? I said absolutely.’
One advantage of her experience is that Martha is not on the long public dental waiting list. ‘I’m out of the dental wait list but now I’m a ccCHIP patient and I go to the Charles Perkins Centre at RPA. Dental hygiene is so necessary! We need to spread the word about it.’
You and your GP can find referral details here:
Wednesdays | 1:30pm – 4:30pm
Tel: (02) 9767 6027
Fax: (02) 9767 7107
Location: The Charles Perkins Centre Clinic, University of Sydney, John Hopkins Drive, (just off Missenden Rd at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital), Camperdown, NSW 2050