Northern Connect

Northern Connect image with logo

Sonder is taking the lead in coordinating an providing dual diagnosis and treatment pathways for clients experiencing both drug and alcohol and mental health problems.

Previously clients who have experienced both mental health and drug and alcohol problems have often had to see one agency for their alcohol or drug problem and another agency to address their mental health issues. This sometimes results in a disjointed approach where either the clients needs are failed to be addressed fully or clients fall through the gaps in service delivery entirely. Northern Connect offers an integrated approach to mental illness & AOD problems where both of these issues can be tackled together.

The Northern Connect Program brings four key agencies together in a co-operative venture to ensure that clients are offered a holistic service uniquely tailored to their specific needs. Northern Health Network will work with General Practitioners, DASSAUniting Communities and Life without Barriers to provide services to clients who have been identified as having both a mental health problem and a alcohol or drug problem.

This free service provides psychological support to address both mental illness and the drug and alcohol problems, as well as care coordination to ensure that the individual’s needs are addressed by the most appropriate services in the community.


Therapeutic counselling is provided by clinicians who are experienced in dual diagnosis and treatment. This counselling service will provide clients with the opportunity to discuss how their mental health issues and addiction impact on their work, social and family life. Therapeutic counselling will also encourage clients to develop the skills and techniques to address their mental health and drug and alcohol problems and make improvements in their day-to-day functioning and quality of life.


Whilst it is important to address both issues at the same time, mental health and AOD services are usually separated and clients often fall through the gap of these two services.

Experienced care coordinators are here to support you to address both issues by:

• Helping you to better understand your condition and the choices available to you;

• Linking you with other services to address associated problems (legal, health, social);

• Helping you to better understand your condition and the choices available to you;

• Linking you with other services to address associated problems (legal, health, social);

• Providing transition services between DASSA, Life without Barriers, Northern Health Network and Uniting Communities;

• Making referrals for early intervention to target less problematic drug use;

• Providing post rehabilitation support and relapse prevention;

• Working with GPs to provide ongoing support.


People aged 15 years or over who have a mental health concern and a drug and/or alcohol problem.


You can be referred into the program by:

• Calling us on (08) 8209 0700;

• Having your GP complete and fax a Mental Health Treatment Plan to (08) 8252 9433;

Referral enquiries can be made by contacting Sonder on (08) 8209 0700


Northern Health Network
2 Peachey Road, Edinburgh North SA 5113
(P) 8209 0700 (F) 8252 9433 (E)

Uniting Communities
26A Anderson Walk, Smithfield SA 5114
(P) 8202 5690 (F) 8231 8032

Life Without Barriers
63 Commercial Road, Salisbury SA 5180
(P) 8259 3600 (F) 8182 6647


Michelle, a 28 year old woman, living in Elizabeth, presented to her GP with feelings of anxiousness, depression and difficulty sleeping which resulted in Michelle feeling tired all the time.  Michelle revealed to her GP that for the last 12 months she had been using methamphetamines to try to fight her depression and tiredness. 

She stated that she had two young, active children. Her husband frequently worked away and so Michelle felt that most of the responsibilities for caring for the children and home fell on her, leaving her feeling alone and isolated which in turn compounded her feelings of depression.

Michelle’s GP completed the Mental Health Treatment plan and referred her to Sonder where the referral was given to the Northern Connect Team Coordinator.

The Northern Connect Coordinator contacted Michelle to arrange an initial appointment time to discuss the treatment and service options available. Michelle decided to commence an initial 6 sessions of therapeutic counselling to address her anxiety, depression and methamphetamine use.  

During the course of therapy Michelle learned relaxation and stress management techniques.  Michelle was also better able understand the connections between her drug use and depression and anxiety and developed strategies to reduce her methamphetamine use and develop relapse prevention strategies.  

After 6 sessions of therapy Michelle had ceased using Methamphetamines and felt that her depression and anxiety had improved. She was then referred to Uniting Communities for ongoing assistance with relapse prevention and further assistance and support to address her ongoing social issues of isolation.

Feedback was provided to the referring GP in respect to Michelle’s engagement and progress.

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