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Wollongong to become home to Australia’s first all-female trauma-informed mental health facility

May 07, 2022

Women suffering from trauma-related mental health issues will soon have access to a dedicated care facility with Australia’s first women’s stand-alone, trauma-informed mental health service to open in Wollongong.

Australian women are almost twice as likely to experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as men (15.8% and 8.6% respectively), with 12 percent of Australians likely to experience PTSD in their life (ABS 2007).

Ramsay Mental Health Director, Anne Mortimer, said Ramsay Clinic Thirroul will be a 43-bed women’s only unit, providing a safe environment where women can deal with trauma-related mental health disorders via specific evidence-based programs.

“There is a real shortage of women’s only mental health facilities in Australia and we’re proud to be opening Australia’s first women’s only stand-alone, trauma-informed mental health facility,” Ms Mortimer said.

“The specialist team at Ramsay Clinic Thirroul will understand the pervasive nature of trauma and the mental ill-health it causes and will provide a responsive environment that promotes healing and recovery.

“We have a team of mental health clinicians led by Dr Karen Williams, all with experience in treatment of trauma disorders, and the program will include a range of auxiliary therapies.”

Ramsay Clinic Thirroul will also offer day patient programs for ongoing treatment and recovery.

Ms Mortimer said the unit will become a training centre for psychiatric, medical, psychological and other allied health and nursing students.

“This will help build a workforce for the future that is trauma informed when managing complex mental health issues,” she said.

“We understand that mental health challenges look different for everyone, especially trauma related mental health. Dedicated, trauma-informed care and practice principles will be utilised to ensure the best patient outcomes.”

Psychiatrist Dr Karen Williams said the clinic was an “absolute game changer”.

“The need for specialised services for women is enormous and I believe the clinic will be the single most significant change to the way we look at trauma-related mental illness in women,” Dr Williams said.

“I initially approached Ramsay asking for a single ward to treat my female patients who had experienced trauma. Anne and her team at Ramsay Health Care listened to me describe just how badly we needed a facility that focussed on trauma-related mental health issues in women, including childhood trauma, road crashes, family violence and sexual abuse and their reply was simply ‘How about a whole hospital instead?' I could not help but cry. 

“Our model is dedicated to setting a gold standard of care and providing treatment for the root causes of psychological ill-health, instead of always patching up the symptoms.”

Ramsay Clinic Thirroul will open in Phillip Street, Thirroul, which previously operated as Lawrence Hargrave Private Hospital. The site is due to be operational from August.

Ramsay Mental Health has been committed to providing world-class standards of care for people affected by mental illness since 1964. It treats more than 70,000 mental health patients in Australia each year.

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