Helping hand to navigate mental health services

7th September 2021

A new initiative which aims to simplify the process of linking people living with complex or persistent mental illness with local mental health services and supports is available free to community members and health professionals.
SWSPHN is funding a Mental Health Service Navigator who collaborates with GPs and other key allied health professionals to provide up-to-date information and resources, and to improve referral pathways.
Find out more about how SWSPHN’s Mental Health Service Navigator, Devendra Sapkota, can help your patients.


What is your background – ie experience/knowledge with supporting mental health patients and relationships with relevant services?

I have a medical background with 10 years’ experience working in general practice. I have recently completed my Masters in Health Service Management and am passionate about helping people improve their mental health. I was born and grew up in Nepal, moved to Australia 12 years ago and I have been living in the South Western Sydney for last seven years. I can speak Nepali, Hindi, Filipino and English. I am the president of Southwest Nepalese Community Sydney and also in the advisory bord of Multicultural Society Campbelltown. Connecting and engaging culturally and linguistically diverse communities is a passion of mine.

Who is this new service aiming to help?

The service navigator program is aimed at improving wellbeing and recovery for people who have severe mental illness. It also provides information, advice and referrals for consumers, family members, carers, health professionals and service providers. 

Where is this service available?

This service is available across all South Western Sydney (Bankstown, Fairfield, Liverpool, Campbelltown, Wollondilly and Wingecarribee).

How does the role work?

The service navigator works directly with people and links them with the services and support they require to improve their health and wellbeing. This could be medical, psychological, housing, drug or alcohol support or financial assistance. This could include completing referrals, providing information or advice on local services and who can help.

How is this service working during COVID-19 lockdown?

Due to this COVID-19, we are not able to provide face-to-face support during the lockdown, but I can provide the service by telephone, telehealth, or skype whichever the person is comfortable with. I am very flexible.

Do GPs need to refer to the service?

Anyone can refer to the service navigator with the person’s permission. Simply call 4632 3024 or email

How will the service navigator help GPs provide care for their patients?

  • Link the patient experiencing complex or persistent mental illness with services and supports in South Western Sydney
  • Assist the practice staff with mental health service information and resources
  • Assist the GPs with mental health general enquiries for patients if uncertain which service may be best suited to the patient
  • Patients will be able to access general information for themselves or others regarding mental health services in South Western Sydney
  • The service navigator will research, compile and complete necessary referrals for patients which may be time consuming
  • Patients will have access to individual and confidential professional advice via phone, email or face-to-face consultations.

How will it help their patients?

The service navigator has local knowledge and experience on where to go to get the help or support that is needed. The service navigator can complete referrals for consumers and their families and link them with local services and supports. The GP can make one referral to the service navigator who can then work intensively with the patient, which will improve their wellbeing and mental health recovery.

The service navigator can also be contacted directly to provide information and advice to health professionals.

How do GPs access support from the service?

Contact the Mental Health Service Navigator directly or have the patient or carer contact the service navigator directly themselves. All consultations are free and confidential. Simply call 4632 3024 or email

Is there support for people who don’t speak English as a first language through this service?

I speak multiple languages. If the client speaks any of those languages, I can help directly. If they speak another language, I will consult with my team and find solutions and appropriate services.


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