Gippsland Mental Health Linkages Project

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Gippsland Medicare Local (GML) engaged Larter to conduct a mapping and gap analysis of the Gippsland mental health service system and develop an online referral tool to assist health practitioners, consumers and carers to navigate the system.


Primary care stakeholders trying to refer into the region’s mental health service system reported that the system is difficult to understand and navigate. Gippsland mental health and primary care clinicians stress that coordination between services can improve mental health outcomes by addressing the impact of social determinants (such as income, housing and employment) on mental health.

Identifying the factors that encourage or inhibit services working together is critical to an effective and connected regional system of mental health and other support services. Providing easy to access information on the different mental health service types and referral pathways will make the system easier to navigate.

Aim and objectives

The project aimed to improve access to and coordination within the region’s mental health service system. Project objectives were to develop:

  • A comprehensive referral tool/resource that encompasses the multiple health and support needs and services for people impacted by mental illness for health practitioners across Gippsland
  • A detailed mental health service mapping and gap analysis to identify the capacities and gaps inherent within the service delivery system in the region, including recommendations for improving care pathways and linkages across the system
  • An analysis report that assists GML to understand the effectiveness of existing partnerships within the mental health system across Gippsland
  • Education resources and communication strategy to raise awareness, support education and increase stakeholder engagement in mental health referral options and care pathways.

Project phases:

1. Collate information on Gippsland mental health service system

Larter scanned and collated existing service directories and other referral pathway, engaging with service providers to verify the information and address information gaps.

2. Map, analyse and report on Gippsland Mental Health service system

Larter interviewed up to 20 representatives from the Gippsland service system, including mental health services, community support services and health professionals that refer into the mental health system. These interviews helped to:

  • Develop an accurate map of the service system, including entry points and referral/navigation pathways and any gaps
  • Gather evidence from multiple perspectives on service coordination strengths, weaknesses, enablers and outcomes achieved
  • Identify the information needs of services referring into the mental health system.

Larter prepared a report on findings of this review and provided recommendations for improving system access and coordination for GML.

3. Develop an online, editable, web-based referral pathway tool and accompanying stakeholder communications strategy

Based on the referral information needs identified during stakeholder interviews, Larter and GML partnered with an experienced web portal developer, Paradigm Media, to create a simple, accessible and reliable online referral resource for the region. This resource tied together the various mental health pathways throughout the Gippsland region and increased the accessibility of the mental health system to a wide range of health and community support professionals.

About Larter

Larter is an Australian-owned consulting firm providing high quality consulting services to the health and community services sector. Read more about our team and how we work towards a stronger primary health system.

Image credit: wYnand! via Flickr Creative Commons