Co-occurring mental health and drug and alcohol support
Co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders are common.
More than 1 in 3 with a substance use disorder have at least one mental health disorder and the rates are even higher among people in substance use treatment.1 People with cooccurring mental health and substance use often have a variety of other medical, family, and social issues.
Together all these factors can complicate a person’s treatment and recovery.
Because of this, there is a need for the workforce to adopt a holistic approach to the management and treatment of occurring mental health and substance use disorders that focus on treating the person.
A resource package of online and telephone resources and online training has been developed to assist in providing effective support to clients with mental health and drug and alcohol conditions.
Resources provided by SESLHD Drug and Alcohol Services Comorbidity Clinical Pathways Project, funded by the Mindgardens Neuroscience Network.
The directory is available to download here:
GP Psychiatry Support Line
The GP Psychiatry Support Line is a free service to GPs to help you manage the care of mental health consumers.
Phone: 1800 16 17 18
GP Liaison in Alcohol and Other Drugs (GLAD) Program
GLAD aims to assist public Drug and Alcohol Services to work collaboratively with you and your General Practice. A GLAD Drug and Alcohol Nurse can provide support to you and your patients through:
- Phone Advice
- Practice visits
- Assessment and treatment plans
- Collaborative shared-care
For more information on the program and referral click here
HealthPathways offers clinicians locally agreed information to make the right decisions together with patients, at the point of care.
The pathways are designed primarily for general practice teams, but are also available to specialists, allied health professionals, and other health professionals in your region. There are dedicated Mental Health and Addiction HealthPathways.
The Comorbidity Guidelines free Online Training Program aims to provide alcohol and other drug (AOD) workers with evidence-based information to assist with the management of AOD and mental health conditions.
Specifically, the program has been developed to assist AOD workers:
- Increase their knowledge and awareness of mental health conditions
- Improve their confidence working with clients with comorbid mental health conditions
- Improve their ability to identify mental health conditions
- Improve their ability to recognise and respond to physical health comorbidities
- Provide practical information on the delivery of a coordinated care approach to clients with comorbid mental health conditions
- Provide practical information on the management and treatment of comorbid mental health conditions
- Improve their ability to manage their own self-care.
- The training program consists of 11 training modules that can be completed in any order. At the end of each module, participants will be provided with a short quiz. Once all modules and quizzes have been successfully completed, a completion certificate will be available for download.
This program has been designed to accompany the “Guidelines on the management of co-occurring alcohol and other drug and mental health conditions in alcohol and other drug treatment settings (2nd edition)” and facilitate its uptake into clinical practice.
Developers: Marel C, Wilson J, Teesson M, Mills KL. (2018). The Centre of Research Excellence in Mental Health and Substance Use (CREMS), National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC), University of New South Wales. The development of this program was funded by the Australian Government Department of Health.
Double Whammy – Co-occurring Mental Health and Alcohol and Other Drug Disorders
The Centre for Community Welfare training (CCWT) offer an interactive 2-day-workshop that incorporates a blend of theoretical and practical elements. The training focuses on communication skills, counselling practices and processes, stages of change, evidence-based practice and brief interventions. Approaches to client work is holistic, person-centred and strengths based and support individual’s rights to choice and self-determination.
Sessions run throughout the year and for more information, prices and to book your place, you can head to the CCWT website here
Central and Eastern Sydney PHN often offer subsidised placements for this training. However, you can also approach CCWT directly to attend their publicly run courses.
Mental Health Professional Online Development (MHPOD)
The MHPOD Learning Portal is an evidence-based online learning resource for people working in or connected to mental health service delivery. Currently, there are over 100 hours of material across 74 topics, written and produced in Australia. The topics range from recovery to legislation and dual disability. Each topic includes an overview, activity, in-practice section, and resources such as checklists, templates, or links to further information. The content of MHPOD is linked to the National Practice Standards for the Mental Health Workforce.
Learning portal can be accessed here
Insight: Centre for alcohol and other drug training and workforce development
Free, eLearning on substance use issues. Foundational AOD concepts, AOD Induction Modules, Introduction to AOD Treatment System, AOD assessment, understanding specific drugs (cocaine, benzodiazepines etc.), Screening and Brief interventions, Trauma Informed Care, Micro-counselling skills, Relapse Prevention and Management, Telephone Counselling, Client engagement, Working with Families and significant others, ASSIST Screening, Care planning, Care formulation.
Visit the Insight Website here
- Alcohol & drug use for those with anxiety, depression or sleep disturbance – Management tips Presented by Dr Merissa Cappetta, Dr Murray Wright and Dr Tony Gill.
- Anxiety and Alcohol Use: What clinicians need to know Presented by Associate Professor Lexine Stapinski
- Building comorbidity capacity in AOD services: What works? Presented by Associate Professor Kirsten Morley
- Co-occurring Substance use and Mental Disorders: Implications for Managing and Delivering Best-Practice Health Care
- Identifying Mental Disorders and Related Conditions Among Patients with Alcohol and Other Drug Conditions
- Implementing evidence-based practices: What AOD managers and workers need to know Presented by Dr Suzie Hudson
- Integrating AOD and mental health sectors: dreaming the impossible dream? Presented by Professor Nicole Lee
- Managing and Treating Co-Occurring Mental and Substance Use Disorders Presented by Dr Christina Marel
- Managing the Physical Health of People with Co-Occurring Mental and Substance Use Disorders Presented by Dr Christina Marel
- Motivational Interviewing: Guiding clients to make beneficial changes Presented by Dr Robert Fullerton
- Psychosis and other mental health effects of crystal methamphetamine Presented by A/Prof Rebecca McKetin
- Psychosis and substance use: What clinicians need to know Presented by Associate Professor Julia Lappin, Comorbidity Guidelines
- Reducing drug-related harms and improving mental health among people released from incarceration: a case for continuity of care. Presented by Dr Jesse Young
- Shared decision making in mental health treatment: What clinicians need to know Presented by Dr Alana Fisher
- Trauma and Substance Use Presented by Professor Katherine Mills
- What is the role of eHealth interventions in mental health and addictions treatment? Presented by Professor Frances Kay-Lambkin
- When depression is not the only concern for young people: impact and considerations for treating comorbid disordersWhen depression is not the only concern for young people: impact and considerations for treating comorbid disorders Presented by Dr Mark Phelan
NADA’s Workforce Capability Framework (NADA)
Central to workforce performance are capabilities—the knowledge, skills and attributes that workers must demonstrate to perform their roles effectively. Developed for, and with input from those who work in the AOD sector, the Workforce Capability Framework describes the core capabilities and associated behaviours expected of all NSW non-government AOD workers. It has been developed to identify specific and measurable capabilities, while remaining broad enough to encompass the diversity of roles, occupations and areas of speciality that make up the NSW non-government AOD sector.
- The Framework provides a common foundation for the full range of workforce development activities: workforce planning; role design and description; recruitment and selection; performance management; professional development and career planning.
Download a copy of the Framework and access additional resources here
NSW Clinical Guidelines
For the Care of Persons with Comorbid Mental Illness and Substance Use Disorders in Acute Care Settings NSW Health 2009
These 2009 guidelines were written for practitioners in the drug and alcohol and/or mental health sectors who provide care for people with comorbid mental health and substance use disorders.
Available to download and view here
NSW Health Nursing and Midwifery Management of Drug and Alcohol use in the Delivery of Health Care
This Policy Directive outlines the required practice of registered nurses and midwives when providing health care to all patients admitted to the NSW Health Care system. It is to reduce barriers to engaging patients in treatment, ensuring effective clinical management and improving health outcomes. The Policy is underpinned by the Nursing and Midwifery Guidelines: Responding effectively to people who use alcohol and other drugs.
Available to download and view here
Dual Diagnosis & Other Complex Needs
This website offers information and resources for people with an interest in dual diagnosis and other complex needs. The website is managed by the Victorian Dual Diagnosis Initiative (VDDI).
Community Mental Health, Drug and Alcohol Research Network (CMDHARN)
CMHDARN was established to broaden involvement of the community mental health and alcohol and other drugs sector in practice-based research and to promote the value of research and the use of research evidence in practice.
Meet Your Neighbour
Mental Health Coordinating Council run free Meet your Neighbour events which are held regularly across Sydney and around New South Wales with the aim of bringing people and organisations together in their local area to share, learn and collaborate. Meet Your Neighbour is open to anyone from a community organisation.
For more information and upcoming events visit the website here
CESPHN recognise that people who experience co-occurring mental health and alcohol and other drug conditions can experience barriers to effective service provision. We worked in partnership with the Matilda Centre for Research in Mental Health and Substance Use, to understand the experiences of people who seek services as well as health care providers and this delivered important recommendations for increasing the capacity of the workforce to respond to people with co-occurring needs.
CESPHN convened a region-wide working party to progress this work in partnership with stakeholders across the region with a shared vision to achieve genuine change. Together with the Matilda Centre, lived experience workers, practitioners in public and NGO services, GPs, pharmacists, sector peaks, researchers and educators, developed an action plan to build system and workforce capacity to deliver holistic and integrated care that focuses on treating the person, not the illness.
- Working with people with co-existing mental health and drug and alcohol support needs : Final report from the project is available here
- A two-page bulletin summarising the report and recommendations is available here
If you have any questions, feedback, recommended resources, training or information to include on this webpage, please get in touch with us. You can email Drug Health Program Officer, Esther Toomey (email@example.com) with your feedback.
1Marel, C. , Mills, K.L. , Kingston, R. , Gournay, K. , Deady, M. , Kay-Lambkin, F. , Baker, A. , Teesson, M. (2016). Guidelines on the management of co-occurring alcohol and other drug and mental health conditions in alcohol and other drug treatment settings (2nd edition). Sydney: National Drug & Alcohol Research Centre.