I have found it really hard to obtain service from Spectrum. Isn’t Spectrum the Victorian service for people with a personality disorder?
This is a common frustration — for people with a personality disorder, mental health professionals, and families and friends. We’re aware of this problem and are continually negotiating it. Spectrum is a very small, specialist service. However, there are tens of thousands of Victorians who have already been diagnosed with a personality disorder, or who could meet the diagnostic criteria. In addition, there are thousands of Victorians who support someone with a personality disorder.
Given the limited resources and the specialist nature of our service, we generally treat the most complex and severe personality disorder. As a state-wide service our primary role is to offer leadership to other services so that they can provide best practice treatment for people with personality disorders.
Spectrum describes itself as ‘The Personality Disorder Service of Victoria’, but most of its services and materials seem to be specific to Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Why is this?
Spectrum receives its funding from the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services. This funding is to provide a state-wide service for all personality disorders, serving the entire Victorian community. There are three reasons why Spectrum’s focus is BPD:
- Firstly, BPD is by far the most common personality disorder, both in terms of prevalence (the number of people with the diagnosis in the community), and in terms of frequency of presentations to mental health services.
- Secondly, our work is informed by evidence-based practice and there is a much stronger evidence base for effective treatments for BPD than for any other personality disorder. (At the moment, the evidence for effective treatment of other personality disorders is significantly weaker.)
- Thirdly, Spectrum is a very small, highly-specialised service, and in the context of the two reasons above, Spectrum’s expertise has focussed on successfully treating BPD.
This means that while the majority of our work is framed around BPD, we offer specialised treatment to many people who have other, and potentially more than one, personality disorders. The treatment principles that apply to BPD often have some benefit for addressing the distress associated with other personality disorders and other mental illnesses.