Support for Health Practitioners

The Initial Assessment and Referral Decision Support Tool (IAR-DST) for mental health care

The Initial Assessment and Referral Decision Support Tool (IAR-DST) for mental health care assists general practitioners and clinicians in recommending a level of care for a person seeking mental health support.

The IAR-DST brings together existing assessment results rather than replace or require additional clinical assessment scales and processes. The IAR-DST provides a framework for GPs and clinicians to consider consumers presentation and may also act as a prompt about the information to gather.

The IAR- DST aims to provide a common approach and language for communicating the intensity of the treatment response (level of care) across service providers.

PHNs nationally are supporting the adoption of the IAR-DST. EMPHN funded mental health services, starting with Head to Health and Mental Health Stepped Care, will progressively begin using the tool, where appropriate. As stated in the bilateral agreement between the Victorian and Commonwealth Governments, State funded services, such as the Adult Locals, are to adopt the IAR tool and adaptions when available.

IAR-DST for mental health care training is available to GPs, general practice staff, clinicians, and other mental health service providers. EMPHN will commence IAR-DST training in early 2023.

See here for more information and register for the upcoming training.

Make a referral

EMPHN SupportConnect (formerly Referral & Access) Service

When it comes to the mental health system, including alcohol and other drugs and suicide prevention, it isn’t always easy to find the right help, at the right time, for patients in distress.

SupportConnect is EMPHN's website and telephone service for individuals in need, families, friends, carers, health professionals and service providers. It is a simple-to-use, private approach to help navigate the sometimes complex and confusing pathways within the mental health system for people presenting with a wide range of needs, including alcohol and other drugs (AOD) support, suicide prevention counselling, eating disorders, anxiety, depression and more.

The website is complemented by EMPHN’s SupportConnect team of qualified and experienced clinicians (formerly known as the Referral and Access Team), who provide telephone assistance and referral for those who prefer to speak to a person rather than engage via the website. The team can also provide more nuanced advice for those with complex needs or who are just not sure about the most appropriate options for them.

SupportConnect aims to ensure that individuals in need, families, friends, carers, health professionals and service providers can find the most appropriate service to meet their needs.

SupportConnect was designed with extensive community and health professional consultation and is intended to increase access to and uptake of mental health services to improve the health outcomes of the 1.4 million Victorians living in the east and north-east of Melbourne.

It does not provide direct counselling or crisis support services, but rather refers callers/browsers to a range of services that might best suit their needs. You can contact the team 9am-5pm Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays). Please note this is not an emergency service and is not staffed 24/7. Always call 000 in an emergency

EMPHN's SupportConnect service:

  • Provides quick advice from qualified mental health professionals
  • Helps find the best services and supports depending on a person’s individual needs
  • It’s free



Phone: (03) 9800 1071

Other services to help health practitioners support patients:

Psychiatric Advice and Consultation Service

The Melbourne Clinic provides specialist psychiatric consultation and advice to general practitioners and EMPHN-commissioned mental health and AOD service providers.

The service is staffed by psychiatrists providing specialist support/advice and secondary consultation. Primary consultation may also be available for complex cases, on a case-by-case basis.

Clinic-based education to general practice teams can also be arranged.

The service aims to help build the capacity and confidence of GPs and other mental health service providers to work with people presenting with mental health conditions on an ongoing basis. See resource.

To access the service:

GPs and EMPHN-commissioned mental health and AOD service providers can call 0447 136 726, Monday to Friday from 7.30am to 7pm (limited availability on public holidays) or email on

Free, online 'drop-in' sessions are also run weekly for EMPHN commissioned service providers, where a psychiatrist is online to answer general questions, and provide rapid advice and support for the management of de-identified patient cases. See below for link to:

Drop-in sessions for EMPHN commissioned service providers: Tuesdays 12-1pm.

View more video resources detailing PACS here

Health practitioners may want to be aware of these services on behalf of the people they are supporting:

Medication Support and Recovery Service

This service is funded by EMPHN to assist people who have problematic use of prescription and/or over-the-counter medications. The service is provided from community health centres located in Clayton, West Heidelberg, Epping, Doncaster East, Box Hill, Lilydale, Glen Waverley, Hawthorn, and Eltham. See resource.

Phone: 1800 931 101

Referrals: People can self-refer or be referred by their healthcare provider.

My Emergency Doctor

My Emergency Doctor can connect people with a specialist emergency doctor after hours. Residents of Eastern and North-Eastern Melbourne can access My Emergency Doctor at no cost in the after-hours period. See website.