Many Australians are experiencing fear, anxiety, loneliness, financial and family stress as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the measures needed to contain it. As such, supporting mental health and suicide remains one of the Government’s highest priorities.
The Australian Government is continuing to support Australians affected by the COVID-19 pandemic by providing an additional $48.1 million to support the Mental Health and Wellbeing Pandemic Response Plan, it was announced recently in a joint statement with Professor Brendan Murphy, Chief Medical Officer and Christine Morgan, CEO of the National Health Commission.
Early and effective action
The focus of the response plan will be to help people as early as possible if they are feeling the impacts of the pandemic, making sure that people get the right care at the right time.
- $2.6 million will go towards boosting national capability in monitoring, anticipating and reacting to the mental health impacts of the pandemic. This will be used to enhance and expand the National Self-harm and Suicide Monitoring System and will support the provision of expert guidance for proactive decision making in mental health service deployment.
- $4.7 million will be provided to continue investment in suicide prevention research through the National Suicide Research Fund administered by Suicide Prevent Australia, and to support the work of the National Suicide Prevention Taskforce.
Reaching the vulnerable
A number of groups have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, including older Australians, carers, Australians from CALD backgrounds and Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islander communities (especially those in remote communities).
- $19 million will be provided to Primary Health Networks (PHNs) to deliver in-reach mental health services provided by mental health nurses to older Australians.
- $3.5 million will be provided to Carers Australia and Carers Gateway to provided targeted assistance and information.
- $3.5 million will go towards specific CALD supports and to ensure that health information is available from current service providers in languages other than English.
- $3.5 million will be provided to PHNs to work with local Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islander communities to bolster existing services as restrictions are lifted.
The Government will also continue to work with states and territories and Beyond Blue on the rollout of the Way Back Support Service, which provides aftercare services following a suicide attempt.
Connecting people to care
Many individuals with ongoing or more complex mental health issues may have had their usual care arrangements disrupted as a result of the pandemic and may find the mental health system a challenge to navigate.
To make it easier, the Australian Government will work with service providers, and states and territories to create a system, which will guide the onward care of people contacting federal digital and telephone support services by connecting them with appropriate local services that provide outreach in the home.
- $10.4 million will go towards a national mental health communications campaign to provide Australians with the confidence to reach out for help and the information they need to better support their mental health.
Now more than ever there is the need for a seamless mental health system to make sure that everyone gets the care they need.
The national plan has been prepared under the leadership of the National Mental Health Commission, and Victoria and New South Wales, working with state and territory governments and key stakeholders.
It is a critical step forward in combatting the effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Anyone experiencing mental health issues is advised to contact Beyond Blue (1300 224 636), Lifeline (13 11 14), the Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800) or the Government’s digital mental health portal, Head to Health (headtohealth.gov.au).