February 25, 2021

New ‘HOPE’ suicide prevention service at Northern Hospital

More northern suburbs residents will get the mental health support they need, thanks to the new Hospital Outreach Post-suicidal Engagement (HOPE) service at Northern Hospital in Epping this week.

Bronwyn Halfpenny MP, Member for Thomastown, announced the start of the HOPE service at Northern Hospital.

“This new service in Epping means people across the North-Western region who are in crisis can receive care and support in their community,” she said. 

“I have no doubt the new HOPE clinical team will make a real difference to the lives of many people living in our area.”

The HOPE program is a follow-up and aftercare service for people 16 years of age or more who attend a hospital in crisis or following a suicide attempt. It provides a comprehensive program of clinical and community-based support to people who are at risk, helping them to identify and build strategies to prevent suicide.

Delivered by NorthWestern  Mental Health Service, the HOPE service at Northern Hospital Epping provides a 12-week program of clinical and social support tailored to individuals and their support networks including family, friends, carers, community cultural leaders and Elders.

HOPE Program Manager Saron Lont said: “The HOPE service provides a valuable opportunity for people who present to the ED post suicide attempt, to work alongside a community development worker, supported by a clinician and a consultant psychiatrist. The service will assist the person, and their support network, to develop improved coping strategies and linkages.”

Yvette Woodburn, HOPE team leader said it was great to see the program officially launched.

“We have now employed our whole team and are starting to see consumers through the service and look forward to this important work in the community,” Yvette said.

The HOPE service responds to evidence that a previous suicide attempt is one of the strongest predictors of a future attempt, and has been highly successful, with consumers, carers and mental health workers reporting positive experiences and improved participant recovery rates.

Dr Megan Robb, Director Northern Hospital Emergency Department said: “The HOPE programs allow our patients to receive much needed care in the community, with their supports rather than being in a hospital environment. The program enables the patient to be linked into better community supports that addresses all the psychosocial aspects of their distress, rather than having to navigate a complex system with often long waits to receive help and support.”

Emergency Physician, Dr Shu Ooi, has been working with the NWMH team in the planning and development of the service and model of care. He was also the first clinician from the Emergency Department to make a referral to the program.

The state-wide HOPE service expansion was a recommendation from the interim report of the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System,  expanding the HOPE service from 12 to 21 areas throughout Victoria, ensuring greater access to this important service.

Dr Megan Robb, Director Northern Hospital Emergency Department; Dr Shu Ooi, Emergency Physician; Pam Anders, CEO Mental Health Reform Victoria.


Featured image (left to right): HOPE team – Sharon Lont , Stephanie Morrell, Elizabeth Hooper, Yvette Woodburn, Bronwyn Halfpenny MP