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2 Dec. 2020

Exploring the place of alcohol and other drug services in the mental health system

A new report by drug and alcohol consultancy 360Edge makes the case for a collaborative but seperate alcohol and other drug and mental health sector, despite recent calls for integration. 

The report, entitled Exploring the place of alcohol and other drug services in the mental health system, cautions against calls to merge two very different health fields.

Many government departments, including the latest Productivity Commission report into mental health, have called for greater integration of alcohol and other drug services into the mental health system. However, the evidence just isn’t there.

“Integration has been the buzzword for the last decade” argues Professor Nicole Lee, co-author of the report, “but there’s very little evidence that it will fill the gaps in service delivery or improve client outcomes”.

A key issue faced by the alcohol and other drug sector as well as the mental health sector is “co-morbidity” - where clients have a co-occurrence of alcohol and other drug use and mental health problems.

The report argues that rather than trying to merge sectors, a model of ‘holistic care’ should be adopted where alcohol and other drug service and mental health services co-exist as specialities but improve their internal capability and external collaboration.

“What’s really at risk in calls for integration are that specialities will lose their culture and philosophy, workforce, and intervention approaches” notes Professor Lee, “this is particularly the case for the alcohol and other drug sector”.


Story contact:

Professor Nicole Lee


Phone: 0403958803