Chief Psychiatrist’s COVID-19 Information Hub (updated 25/10/22)

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As Chief Psychiatrist, I remain acutely aware of the incredible work being done across mental health services to provide safe services for consumers during the COVID pandemic.

Services have all developed their COVID-safe plans, but the experience in other jurisdictions highlights the pressure on healthcare systems that emerges when COVID-19 proliferates in the community.

The Chief Psychiatrist thanks all staff – clinical, non-clinical and service leaders, who will be called upon to extend themselves as COVID-19 inevitably places increasing pressure on our mental health services over the coming months.

The staff of the Office of the Chief Psychiatrist are committed to advising and supporting clinicians and services throughout this time.


Office of the Chief Psychiatrist Activities and COVID-19 Response

OCP activities during COVID-19

OCP COVID-19 FAQs for mental health services (Version 4, published 25/10/22)

Chief Psychiatrist’s Good Practice Guide: Providing mental health care when there is community transmission of COVID-19 (updated 01/06/22)

Chief Psychiatrist’s Mental Health Community of Practice

Chief Psychiatrist’s Audio-Visual Communication Guideline

Authorisation of mental health units under the Mental Health Act 2014 during the COVID-19 pandemic

Approved Electroconvulsive (ECT) Therapy Services and ECT Service Approval during the COVID-19 pandemic


COVID-19 Mental Health Directives and Guides

COVID-19 Mental Health Infection Control Directions

The Chief Health Officer revoked the Mental Health Infection Control Directions on 29th August 2022 (find revocation document here).

The Mental Health Infection Control Directions altered the way that assessments (section 48) and examinations (section 79) under the Mental Health Act 2014 were to be carried out when either the patient, or the clinician had COVID-19, had been in contact with COVID-19, had symptoms of COVID-19 or had been directed to isolate.  In those circumstances, the assessment or examination had to be carried out using one or more of the following infection control measures: use of PPE, use of a physical barrier, physical distancing, or audiovisual equipment.

Therefore, when the Mental Health Infection Control Directions were in place, there were times when it was possible to use audiovisual means to carry out assessments or examinations, in the metro area, when the COVID-19 criteria were met.

Now that the Mental Health Infection Control Directions have been revoked, this is no longer the case.

Assessments (section 48) and examinations (section 79) under the Mental Health Act 2014 can therefore no longer be carried out using telehealth or other audiovisual means, in the metro area.

The arrangements outside the metro area are not affected.

The COVID-19 FAQs will be updated to reflect this change.


Clozapine monitoring during COVID-19

The Western Australian Therapeutic Advisory Group and Western Australian Psychotropic Drugs Committee have provided the following advice on Clozapine Monitoring during COVID-19, available at this link:

WATAG and PDC – Advice on Clozapine monitoring during COVID-19 (PDF) (WA Health)


Management of acute behavioural disturbance in COVID-19

This guideline addresses the safe care and management of consumers presenting with psychological distress and acute behavioural disturbance who have suspected or confirmed COVID-19 and asymptomatic people who fulfil the criteria for mandatory self-isolation.

Guideline: Management of acute behavioural disturbance in COVID-19 (version 3.1 published 02/05/22, WA Department of Health)


Telehealth guide for practitioners 

The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) has released a Telehealth Guide for Practitioners which outlines their expectations of how registered health practitioners will use telehealth in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Professional Practice Guideline: Telehealth in psychiatry (published November 2021, RANZCP)

AHPRA’s Telehealth Guide for Practitioners (published April 2020, AHPRA)


Resources on this website are the most recent currently available and updates will be added as available.

For further information, please consult the WA Department of Health website, or call the COVID-19 Health Information Line on 1800 020 080.

If you are a consumer or carer looking for information on mental health and COVID-19, please go to the ‘Think Mental Health‘ website. If you have a query about receiving treatment during the pandemic, please contact your care provider.

Dr Nathan Gibson
Chief Psychiatrist

Review of the Mental Health Act 2014

The Mental Health Commission is reviewing the Mental Health Act 2014 and wants to hear from people who:

  • Have received treatment under the Act;
  • Have supported someone who received treatment under the Act;
  • Work in the mental health sector, including as an advocate or volunteer;
  • Have feedback about the operation and effectiveness of the Act.

Let them know what is working well with the Act or where things could be improved.  This is your chance to have your say and help improve the Act for the Western Australian community.

Visit www.mhc.wa.gov.au/mhactreview or telephone (08) 6553 0600 for more information.

Feedback can be provided up to 31 January 2022.

Mental health services can make use of this poster to advertise a feedback session within their service.

2021 Private Psychiatric Hostels Snapshot Now Available

The Chief Psychiatrist has reviewed the data collected for the 2021 Private Psychiatric Hostels Snapshot and a report is now available.

Chief Psychiatrist’s Private Psychiatric Hostels Snapshot 2021

The Chief Psychiatrist’s Private Psychiatric Hostel Snapshot is a process to understand the demographics of residents and how they access mental health services. It is published annually as part of the oversight process for private psychiatric hostels. You can view the snapshot, along with previous versions on the Monitoring of Private Psychiatric Hostels page.

COVID-19 Vaccination in Community Mental Health Services Forum – Info & FAQs

COVID-19 Vaccination in Community Mental Health Services Forum

The Chief Psychiatrist and Deputy Chief Psychiatrist hosted a forum on Tuesday 9 November 2021 to showcase the learnings from the COVID-19 vaccination clinics held at the Osborne Park Community Mental Health Service.

Watch the video: COVID-19 Vaccination in Community Mental Health Services 
(YouTube video – uploaded 12/11/2021)

Powerpoint presentation: COVID-19 Vaccination in Community Mental Health Services


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) raised during the forum

Will Public Health work with non-Government agencies?

  • Public Health works in partnership with all mental health service providers including Public and Private Services and Non-Government Organisations, wherever you are located across Western Australia

What does Public Health provide for the Vaccination Clinics?

  • Public Health provides expert staff, vaccines, consumables, interpreters, posters and all other tools and resources required
  • The Pfizer vaccine is offered
  • Public Health will support clinics with both small and large numbers of clients

How long does it take to organise a Vaccination Clinic?

  • There is a short lead-in time of a couple of weeks to organise and confirm two clinic dates three weeks apart

Is training available for mental health nurses to become a vaccinator?

  • Public Health provides training for nurses to become a vaccinator.

How will we be able to run a Vaccination Clinic when we have a very busy clinic workload?

  • Osborne Park Community Mental Health Service reduced the workload for Case Managers on the vaccination days

What are the key strategies that mental health clinicians can implement to support clients?

  • Case Managers discussed vaccination with all clients on their case load, encouraged them to attend and obtained their consent
  • The vaccine was offered to all clients and also to any of their family and carers who wished to attend the Vaccination Clinic
  • Clients did not need to have ID to get their vaccination
  • Clients identified the Community Mental Health Setting as a safe, familiar and comfortable environment
  • Clients were offered transport to attend the Vaccination Clinic
  • A concierge greeted clients on arrival and there were short waiting times
  • Case Managers and treating Doctors at the clinic reassured clients on the day

To arrange a COVID-19 Clinic, or if you have any have any further questions, contact NMHSCOVIDVaccination@health.wa.gov.au or phone 9222 8588

COVID-19 Forum for Mental Health Services 09/11/2021

You are invited to an online forum showcasing the learnings from the COVID-19 vaccination clinics held at the Osborne Park Community Mental Health Service.

This session will provide tips to mental health service providers to assist their clients in making an informed choice and accessing a COVID-19 Vaccination.

Date: Tuesday 9 November

Time: 11.00am -12.00pm

Presenters include:

  • Mr Mike Brown and Ms Edwina Milner from Osborne Park Community Mental Health Service
  • Ms Suzanne Cauble, Coordinator Nursing – NMHS COVID Vaccination Team
  • Ms Jo Fagan, Director Public Health

Location: Microsoft Teams meeting

Click here to join on your computer or mobile app

WA Seclusion and Restraint Data: 2020-2021 Financial Year, and Trends 2016-2021

The Chief Psychiatrist is committed to working towards the elimination of restrictive practices, seclusion and restraint, in Western Australia (WA).  In order to promote transparency in the use of restrictive practices in WA, the Chief Psychiatrist has committed to publishing the rates of seclusion and restraint bi-annually for each authorised mental health service.

The rates of seclusion and restraint for the 2020–2021 financial year (1 July 2020 – 30 June 2021), alongside trends from 2016-2021 are now available.

WA Seclusion and Restraint Data: 2020-2021 Financial Year

WA Seclusion Data: 2016-2021

WA Restraint Data: 2016-2021

Additional data can be found here: WA Seclusion and Restraint Data

Chief Psychiatrist’s Annual Report 2020-21

The Chief Psychiatrist’s Annual Report 2020-21 has been tabled in WA Parliament.

The 2020-21 financial year has been a busy and effective one for the Chief Psychiatrist and his staff, and this report explicitly details the activities of the Office and its value to the WA community.  Past Annual Reports have concentrated on the usual activities of the Chief Psychiatrist from a program perspective, as well as on the statutory reporting requirements.  Our quality data is always reflected in the Annual Report.  However, this report takes a further step in looking at the systemic view by reflecting on the needs of the mental health sector in Western Australia (WA) and the role the Chief Psychiatrist has played in ensuring safe high-quality mental health treatment and care.

‘Ensuring Safe and High Quality Mental Health Care’
Annual Report of the Chief Psychiatrist of Western Australia
1 July 2020 – 30 June 2021

If you would like to provide feedback about the Chief Psychiatrist’s Annual Report 2021, please follow this link – Chief Psychiatrist’s Annual Report 2021 Feedback.

Best Practice Guideline for Transfer of Care for Mental Health Patients Moving Between States and Territories

The Best Practice Guideline for Transfer of Care for Mental Health Patients Moving Between States and Territories is now available.

This non-mandatory best practice guideline is applicable to all Health Service Providers and Contracted Health Entities that provide public mental health care including care that is provided in an Emergency Department.

It informs the assessment, treatment planning and transfer of care for people who have had contact with, or been treated by, mental health services in other states and territories, both those who have permanently relocated to WA and those temporarily in the state. It also informs the transfer of care for people who are moving from WA to another state or territory, both permanently and temporarily.

Those external to WA Health who cannot access the intranet link can request a copy of the document via @CSD, Mental Health Unit.

Email: mhu.csd@health.wa.gov.au

WA Seclusion and Restraint Data: Quarters 1&2, 2020-2021 Financial Year

The Chief Psychiatrist is committed to reducing working towards the elimination of restrictive practices, seclusion and restraint, in Western Australia (WA).  In order to promote transparency in the use of restrictive practices in WA, the Chief Psychiatrist has committed to publishing the rates of seclusion and restraint bi-annually for each authorised mental health service.

The rates of seclusion and restraint for Q1 and Q2 of the 2020 – 2021 financial year (1 July 2020 – 31 December 2020) are now available.

WA Seclusion and Restraint Data: Quarters 1&2 2020-2021 Financial Year

Additional data can be found here: WA Seclusion and Restraint Data

WA Historical Seclusion and Restraint Data

The Chief Psychiatrist is committed to reducing working towards the elimination of restrictive practices, seclusion and restraint, in Western Australia (WA).  In order to promote transparency in the use of restrictive practices in WA, the Chief Psychiatrist has committed to publishing the rates of seclusion and restraint bi-annually for each authorised mental health service.

The historical rates of seclusion and restraint for the 2016 – 2017 financial year (1 July 2016 – 30 June 2017), and the 2017 – 2018 financial year (1 July 2017 – 30 June 2018), alongside charts showing trends in these data from 2016 – 2020 are now available.

See WA Seclusion and Restraint Data here