The Morrison Government is providing $17.7 million to rapidly establish 10 Head to Health pop up mental health support sites for areas currently facing extended COVID-19 restrictions in and around Greater Sydney and to extend the operation of at least 12 clinics in Victoria until 30 June 2022.
To support those living in the areas most affected by the NSW lockdown, the $10.6 million funding will be used to establish pop up clinics in the following Primary Health Network (PHN) regions:
- Central Eastern Sydney (2)
- South Western Sydney (2)
- Western Sydney (2)
- Northern Sydney (1)
- Nepean Blue Mountains (1)
- Hunter New England Central Coast (1)
- South Eastern NSW (1)
The extension of the NSW lockdown and the rising number of COVID-19 cases across many areas of Greater Sydney is leading to a rise in demand for mental health support which is likely to persist for some months.
Now facing their sixth lockdown in response to COVID-19, Victorians continue to experience high levels of distress and mental ill health. Crisis lines and other support services continue to experience unprecedented levels of demand.
Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said the current restrictions across New South Wales and continued lockdowns in Victoria are taking a toll on the mental health and wellbeing of Australians who have been substantially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The current outbreak is putting incredible stress and mental health pressure on many Australians and there is increasing need for additional mental health services,” Minister Hunt said.
“The Head to Health centres in NSW will offer COVID-safe face-to-face, as well as video and phone supported mental health and assessment services, ensuring people in NSW can access the services on site or from their own homes if they’re unable to travel.”
“The Morrison Government has already provided a total of $46.9 million in mental health support specifically for Victorians since the pandemic began. This included $26.9 million to establish mental health clinics across Victoria. We are now providing a further $7.1 million to extend the operation of these clinics until 30 June 2022.”
As already occurred in Victoria, primary care settings in NSW will be identified to establish each clinic and will be enhanced with multidisciplinary mental health teams. Services will be available at these sites by the end of September 2021 and will remain in operation until 30 June 2022.
The Morrison Government has also provided funding, in partnership with the NSW Government, for the $17.35 million ‘Lockdown Lifeline’ package for NSW, which is assisting mental health services like Lifeline, Kids Helpline, headspace and the Butterfly Foundation to increase their support.
Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, David Coleman, said the Government is ensuring the mental health supports Australians need are there to get them through this crisis
“We know that extended lockdowns can have significant impacts on the mental health of Australians and our Government has worked quickly to ensure that additional support is available,” Assistant Minister Coleman said.
“The Victorian clinics continue to provide excellent support to Victorians in need of mental health. Since they were established, the clinics have received 11,000 phone calls to the central intake service from people seeking support and more than 5,000 were referred to a clinic.”
“The establishment of clinics in NSW will help keep people out of hospital emergency departments and will support GPs to provide treatment and care to those who are struggling during this extremely challenging time.
“Just as there are massive efforts underway to control the spread of the virus and keep people safe, we are working on all fronts to help people dealing with mental ill health.”
The Government continues to make mental health a national priority, investing a record $2.3 billion in the 2021-22 Budget for the National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan to lead landmark reform of the mental health system. This includes a record $6.5 billion in mental health and suicide prevention services and supports in 2021-22, doubling since 2012-13.
Australians looking for support throughout the COVID-19 pandemic can access the Beyond Blue Coronavirus Wellbeing Support Service anytime via telephone at 1800 512 348 or online at coronavirus.beyondblue.org.au.
Anyone experiencing distress can seek immediate advice and support through Lifeline (13 11 14), Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800), or the Government’s digital mental health gateway, Head to Health (www.headtohealth.gov.au).
If you are concerned about suicide, living with someone who is considering suicide, or bereaved by suicide, the Suicide Call Back Service is available at 1300 659 467 or www.suicidecallbackservice.org.au.