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Project Air a world pacesetter

Collaborative project’s significant impact changing the way mental health services across NSW diagnose and treat personality disorders

The Project Air Strategy for Personality Disorders is leading the world in breaking new ground in better patient care for people with personality disorder.

It is a partnership between UOW, the NSW Department of Health, Local Health Districts, NSW Department of Education, schools and community organisations and consumer groups - families, carers and people with lived experience of personality disorder.

“Project Air is the first project in the world to develop a ‘whole of service’ approach to improving the treatment of personality disorder,” according to Professor Brin Grenyer, Director of the Project Air Strategy and Director of Professional and Clinical Psychology Training at the UOW School of Psychology.

The Project Air Strategy for Personality Disorders arose from a competitive research tender in 2010 for a three-year pilot program to implement better treatment and services in the South East Sydney and Illawarra Shoalhaven local health districts.

The success of the pilot program saw the NSW Government reaffirm its commitment to Project Air in January 2015, with the roll out and funding of the program across all NSW Local Health Districts from 2015–2020.

The collaborative project has had a very significant impact by changing the way mental health services across NSW diagnose and treat personality disorders, Professor Grenyer said.

To date, it has implemented the strategy across six of the planned 13 Local Health Districts and Justice Health. Already, more than 4,500 mental health staff have received specialist training, and 12 personality disorder clinics have opened offering new models of care and support.

The program has also been extended into schools, with the November 2016 launch of the Project Air Strategy for Schools – a project unique internationally.

Working in conjunction with the Department of Health and Department of Education, it upskills teachers, school counsellors, school psychologists and health staff to better recognise and respond to young people with complex mental health problems which could include suicidal thoughts, self-harm, trauma and emerging borderline personality disorder.

“Mental health issues occur in the context of families, communities, schools and workplaces, and sophisticated research in the future will need to develop broader models in which interventions can be targeted at multiple levels,” Professor Grenyer said.

The Project Air Strategy supports the NSW Mental Health Commission’s Living Well strategic plan, and fits within the National Health and Medical Research Council guidelines for the treatment of borderline personality disorder, which had a major contribution from Project Air. 

Partner organisations

NSW Department of Health
Local Health Districts
NSW Department of Education

UOW participants

Prof. Brin Grenyer, Michelle Townsend, Liesl Radloff, Samantha Reis, Judy Pickard, Kate Lewis, Caitlin Miller, Ely Marceau, Pat Frencham, Fiona Ng, Nicholas Day, Annaleise Gray, Denise Meuldijk, Joanna Renfrey, Elizabeth Huxley, Laura Robinson