The icare Brain Injury Psychiatry Program (iBIPP) is a world-first brain injury training program for psychiatrists, bridging the gap between mental health and brain injury rehabilitation. Funded by icare NSW, the project was launched in 2019 as a partnership between the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, the University of Sydney Brain and Mind Centre, and Northern Sydney Local Health District.
The establishment of iBIPP marked a first for Australia, and the world, providing a training program for psychiatrists in brain injury. The program aims to bridge the gap between mental health and brain injury rehabilitation, providing access for people with brain injury and other health professionals to brain injury specific psychiatry services.
The iBIPP aims to provide specialist brain injury psychiatry services to address the often complex behavioural and mental health issues that are commonly experienced following brain injury, and to improve the quality of life for people with brain injury.
People with brain injury can develop mental health issues post-injury. For some, mental health difficulties may become prominent years after their injury; at a time when they are no long engaged with brain injury rehabilitation programs or support services. Access to mental health services for people with brain injury living in the community can be extremely difficult as they are often excluded from these services because of their brain injury. They therefore require specialist services to meet their mental health needs. There continues to be a lack of availability of skilled psychiatrists in the area of brain injury, which further compounds these problems.
To address this unmet need, a training curriculum was developed in consultation with the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP), and a fellowship for advanced trainee psychiatrists in brain injury was created. In 2019 a 12 month fellowship in brain injury psychiatry was piloted in Northern Sydney Local Health District (NSLHD) with Dr Ralf Ilchef as the iBIPP supervisor and Dr Jodi Cartoon as the inaugural fellow.
Due to the success of the program, iBIPP was rolled out across NSW in February 2020 with 12 month fellowships based in NSLHD, Western Sydney LHD (WSLHD) and Hunter New England LHD (HNELHD). A fifth fellowship split between Illawarra Shoalhaven LHD (ISLHD) and South Western Sydney LHD (SWSLHD) commenced in October 2020, extending the location of the program across all of the major metropolitan areas of NSW, the Illawarra and Hunter regions.
The iBIPP Fellowship has been successfully completed by four fellows: Dr Jodi Cartoon, Dr Bernard Myers, Dr Kiran Lele and Dr Abi Ratnagopal. Dr Daniel Smoothy is currently completing the iBIPP Fellowship and is based in the ISLHD and SWSLHDs.