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Supporting People Living With BPD

If elected in March 2018, a Marshall Liberal Government will provide $10 million funding over four years to establish a specialist statewide BPD Service for at-risk clients, that will include a focus on new mothers, their babies and young people.

The Problem

The Labor Government has been in power for a decade and a half.

Yet they have failed to address serious gaps in our mental health services – one of those areas is Borderline Personality Disorder.

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a psychiatric disorder characterised by distressing emotional states, difficulty relating to other people and with high risk of self-harming behaviour, including suicide.

It often occurs with mood disorders, eating disorders and alcohol or drug abuse.

A person with BPD is likely to have frequent interactions with services including hospital emergency departments, ambulance, police and corrections.

It is estimated that up to 68,000 South Australians are living with BPD.

The cost of BPD in terms of health, social and other services and lost productivity is calculated to be more than $300 million per annum in South Australia.

The Weatherill Government has failed to deliver an appropriate response to BPD.

In June 2014, SA Health released an overview of BPD services in South Australia that recommended setting up a ‘statewide specialist BPD service.’

More than three years later, this service is yet to be established.

In March 2016, the Weatherill Government announced that the first task of the newly established Mental Health Commission would be to develop a statewide action plan to assist people living with BPD.

The plan was presented to the Government in October 2016. It was expected that the plan would be released by the end of that year.

A year later people with BPD and those who care for them are still waiting.

Years of inaction and unmet commitments mean that the health system remains significantly unresponsive to the needs of people with a BPD diagnosis – the majority of whom are women.

Services are fragmented and cost more than they need to while the workforce providing the treatment is small, unsupported and overworked.

The State Liberals' Plan

If elected in March 2018, a Marshall Liberal Government will provide $10 million funding over four years to establish a specialist statewide BPD Service for at-risk clients, that will include a focus on new mothers, their babies and young people.

The initiative will deliver a more responsive service that addresses the issues and needs of individuals with a BPD diagnosis, their families and carers.

The statewide service will have the following five elements:

  • Clinical service: The statewide clinical service will focus on people with severe and complex BPD and engage dedicated medical, nursing and allied health staffing with hubs in local health networks.

    The service will draw on successful models interstate, in particular Victoria and New South Wales.

    The service will include a statewide coordination centre, service development and education and training to upskill health workers.

  • Services for at-risk Clients with Severe and Complex BPD: These services will provide dedicated acute, outpatient and evidence-based therapeutic services for people with severe and complex BPD. 

    The therapeutic programs will include an additional 18 group programs per year across South Australia, giving access to treatment to more than 700 clients over four years.

  • Family, Carer and Recovery Supports: Funding will be provided for clients, their families and carers for case work, housing, community and employment support services for the most at risk BPD clients.

    This will include grants to community based organisations supporting BPD clients, their families and carers.

  • Early Years and New Mothers Program: This program will increase the hospital, outpatient and evidence-based therapeutic services available to mothers of infants and young children who have a BPD diagnosis.

    It will provide ongoing and dedicated funding for specific programs and increase services delivered through Helen Mayo House.

  • Young People Program: The Young People Program will support young people at risk of developing BPD, or with early signs of BPD (including self-harming behaviour) through dedicated, ongoing inpatient, outpatient and therapeutic resources.

The outcomes to be achieved over time by this five-prong service will include:

  • improved access to appropriate early intervention services;
  • improved access to appropriate evidence-based services;
  • improved access to recovery-focused services;
  • reduction in the level of suicide and deliberate self harm by those who suffer from BPD; and
  • decreased presentations to hospitals, including emergency departments, by BPD clients.

Through increased education and training of health service staff, front line service providers and the community it also aims to alleviate the stigma and discrimination faced by those with a diagnosis of BPD.

The policy is an evidence-based response developed by listening to clients and carers.

Services will be co-designed with people with lived experience to maximise the positive impact.

Investing in the care of people with BPD has the potential to improve the quality of life of people living with BPD and their carers.

Part of our plan for SA