Five minutes with Janelle Kumar

Janelle Kumar
  19 October 2023  NWMPHN   

In a previous life, Janelle “Jay” Kumar worked as a triage clinician in New Zealand. It was a grounding experience, that means she is well suited to her latest role – coordinating the mental health referral and access team.

“In my initial training as a mental health clinician I was assigned the task of reviewing referrals and found that this was the place to build and fortify a strong relationship with clients entering a service or in being referred to the correct pathway and ensuring a smooth transition,” she says.

Jay joined the team in May 2023, and finds that it is well suited to her professional goals.

NWMPHN mental health team
Image (left to right): Paulette Belcastro, Litsa Kyriakou and Jay Kumar.

“I’ve always been passionate about good clinical intake and believe it is the foundation for solid clinical intervention, as well as preparing clients for the next steps in therapy,” she says.

“The coordinator role aligned with my philosophy of care for a strong clinical team through ensuring all clinicians are supported in providing that crucial initial experience for clients seeking mental health support and providing a smooth transition into mental health supports needed.” Her work, though, can at times be demanding and stressful, so she is careful to make sure she deals with the pressure in positive ways.

“I regularly engage in all the professional forms of self-care: professional development, supervision (both group and individual) and research,” she explains.

“I also utilise mindfulness and yoga to centre and ground when things are getting a bit tough. I find perspective-taking and drawing on the values I’d like to bring to my work and my being help too.”

She is also quick to credit the therapeutic benefits of having a pet cat, and walking in Melbourne’s many parks.

“Plus, I have a great group of colleagues whom I value highly and am able to connect with when I am feeling the challenge in the work,” she adds.

“I’m a clinician at heart and enjoy knowing I’ve been able to provide a pathway to support for all walks of life with varying contexts across Victoria. It’s an incredible opportunity to support so many people.”

The insights she has gained from working in the team mean that she has some clear, evidence-informed ideas for reforms needed in Victoria’s mental health system.

“I would love to see greater clarity in service navigation and increased collaboration between all providers to ensure a smooth support service for all those accessing services and those providing them,” she says.

GPs and other health and community service professionals can refer anyone experiencing mental ill health to our referral and access team. Our clinicians review referrals and allocate them to the most clinically appropriate service – regardless of who funds or provides it.