THE state's mental health commissioner agrees Tamworth's Banskia unit needs to be upgraded.
But it won't be the silver bullet for the web of issues facing people with a mental illness in the region.
Commissioner Catherine Lourey made a visit to Tamworth on Tuesday where she talked with people at the Billabong Clubhouse about their experiences.
While Ms Lourey was here to hear the good and the bad, a recurring theme was the impending upgrade of the hospital's acute mental health unit.
The commissioner said it was particularly important for rural unit like Banksia to stay up-to-date given the lack of options for people in the New England area.
"So if you have got an older style in-patient unit, it means contemporary models of care are harder to roll out," she told the Leader.
"I've been working in mental health around NSW for the last 20 years and units like Banksia come up a lot.
"Because they are built in a rural community and they can age very quickly and the way we deliver care also has changed very quickly."
With a federal election looming, Ms Lourey didn't single-out either side's policy, but she said more could always be spent on mental health.
She said the government needed to expand beyond using "more services" as the silver bullet, which meant investing in accommodation, employment pathways and carer support.
She said Billabong Clubhouse ticked a lot of boxes for people in Tamworth.
Manager Kevin Rooney described it as being there for people "every other day of their life".
"That one day, people find that intervention is necessary, it's only one day, the rest of the days that follow that is the process of getting back out in to the community," he said.
"One day we will go to hospital, but the rest of the days we've got to live."
Mr Rooney said the clubhouse supported the petition to upgrade Banksia.
"We played our role in that advocacy for that to be improved," he said.
"Certainly, nothing will ever be at its end-product, but as it was built it is definitely evolving, but there is a need for more beds and a need for an upgrade."
One clubhouse member, who didn't want to be named, has lived with schizophrenia since he was 14, said he wanted to see stereotypes and stigma driven down in Tamworth.
"The way to do that is promoting this place for a start," he said.
He said there was a need to upgrade the Banksia unit as well.