People seeking mental health support may present with a range of factors that can make it challenging for health professionals to determine the most appropriate level of care required.
The Initial Assessment and Referral – Decision Support Tool (IAR-DST) complements clinical judgement and provides GPs and mental health clinicians with a standardised, evidence-based approach to providing care recommendations.
The IAR-DST assists general practitioners and clinicians in recommending a level of care for a person seeking mental health support. Each level of care is based on the least intensive and least intrusive evidence-based intervention that will likely lead to the most significant possible gain.
Guided by practitioner assessment and clinical judgement, the tool provides a consistent way for GPs and clinicians to make decisions when matching a patient’s mental health needs with the right level of service intensity, at the right time. Widespread uptake of the IAR-DST aims to create nationwide common language across the mental health sector about what level of service intensity a person requires (Level 1: self-management through to Level 5: specialist and acute).
When using the IAR-DST, a person seeking mental health assistance has their experiences understood in the context of holistic assessment domains. The 8 domains help to distil essential assessment information and identify key signals. The 8 domains are (click the image to make it larger):
Widespread use of the IAR-DST aims to improve awareness and consistency of how decisions about the appropriateness of referrals are made, articulate treatment needs using language commonly understood across the sector and reduce the likelihood of rejected referrals to help patients receive the right care, at the right place and at the right time.
Murray PHN is delivering group training workshops to assist primary health clinicians understand how to use the IAR-DST. These two-hour workshops are being delivered online or in-person and do attract CPD points. The training workshops cover:
- An introduction to the IAR-DST and the development of the National Guidance
- The domains, levels of care and using the decision support tool
- Clinical judgement and supported decision making
- Practical application of the IAR-DST in assessment settings.
There is a $300 once-off incentive payment available to GPs and GP registrars who complete the workshop.
Training is offered by Murray PHN and the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care. Upcoming training dates and registration links are below. New training dates will continue to be added:
Murray PHN online training workshops
Murray PHN in-person training workshops
National online training workshops
If the above dates are not suitable, you can register your interest in later sessions, by clicking on the button below:
- IAR snapshot
- IAR-DST online tool
- Primary Health Networks mental health care guidance – initial assessment and referral for mental health care
For more information or support please contact Louise Scheidl, Murray PHN Initial Assessment and Referral Training and Support Officer, e: firstname.lastname@example.org
Page last updated 28 September 2023