Delivering mental health support with compassion with Mary Williams AM, CEO/DCS HealtheCare
As the CEO/Director of Clinical Services at Belmont Private Hospital (the largest provider of private acute Mental Health care in Queensland), Mary has a keen interest in ensuring that members of the medical profession are able to access care in a private, confidential, compassionate and dignified manner. Acknowledging the extremely difficult position that doctors find themselves in when experiencing any level of mental health concerns or serious life stressors is important, and hopefully validating. The doctor-patients who are admitted to hospital provide a snapshot about how help is sought for mental health conditions.
Sometimes admission is at the instigation of relational or legislative interactions. People who present less acutely often have a solid GP engagement or are transferring from elsewhere with a solid prior team. There might be a recognition of benefit from engagement in the past or a recognition of a need to seek further assistance resulting in a psychology or psychiatry referral. Acute admissions through the hospital network often, but not always, indicate a prior lost opportunity to arrange, engage or sustain the primary care and/or psychiatric/psychological engagement adequately. Sometimes those losses have occurred through disappointment in the initial engagement, fear of consequences on self-esteem, risk, relationships, professional status, professional training and registration, a fundamental miscommunication between the person seeking assistance, the person encouraging assistance and the person providing assistance.
The benefit of an authentic relationship in primary care is essential but with the proviso that the primary carer will refer on in a timely manner if required. Even when colleagues and bosses are sympathetic to someone managing mental illness, the onus often remains on the individual to find a solution and make themselves well enough to work. T
his institutional abdication of responsibility needs to change. There is still a high level of stigma with healthcare institutions and employers surrounding mental illness which deters access to early mental health treatment and contributes to a rise in suicide. Surely the medical and health professions have a responsibility to dispel the stigma rather than perpetuate it. As much as possible we must reduce the barriers to engagement.
The New Horizon that will lead Doctors’ Health into the future needs to involve authentic conversations about the “how and why” doctors struggle, and will provide genuine, realistic and hopeful answers and strategies to the response: “I’m really not OK”.
About Mary Williams
Mary Williams is the Chief Executive Officer and Director of Clinical Services of Belmont Private Hospital. Since joining HealtheCare over 30 years ago, Mary has held numerous management and clinical roles within the group. Until recently, Mary was the Director of Clinical Services and Deputy Chief Executive Officer at Belmont Private Hospital in which she was responsible for overseeing clinical care the hospital provides, whilst managing its Nursing and Allied Health workforce.
As Hospital CEO and Director of Clinical Services, Mary is responsible for doctor engagement, managing day-to-day operations and overseeing clinical governance, while leading strategic initiatives for continued growth and quality patient care.
During her time at Belmont Private Hospital, Mary has been instrumental in assisting in the establishment of the Brisbane Centre for Postnatal Disorders; Queensland’s only private mental health facility with a dedicated 10 bed mother and baby unit. During this time, she worked as the Program Manager before commencing her position as the Unit Manager, a position in which she occupied for 11 years.
In 2015, Mary was awarded an AM in 2015 for her services to perinatal mental health.