COVID-19 mental health boost for the ACT | Health Portfolio Ministers – Australian Government Department of Health

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Date published: 

21 September 2021

Media type: 

Media release

Audience: 

General public

The Australian Government is providing an additional $2.5 million to ensure people in the ACT can access urgent mental health support during the current COVID-19 lockdown.

This funding complements the additional mental health and wellbeing support that will be announced by the ACT Government later today.

Taken together, this package will significantly boost mental health and wellbeing services and, importantly, provide additional vital support for children and young people.

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said the COVID-19 pandemic is having a significant impact on the mental health and wellbeing of Australians.

“Many Australians, particularly our young, are doing it really tough. The current outbreak and lockdowns are creating immense pressure and distress, and it is vital that we continue to support people’s mental and emotional wellbeing throughout these challenging times,” Minister Hunt said.

The funding we are providing today will boost the availability of key mental health services to ensure that vital support is available whenever it is needed.”

The funding includes:

  • $1.6 million to establish a Head to Health Pop-Up mental health clinic in the ACT and fast track the rollout of a phone Intake, Assessment and Referral support service
  • $400,000 to enhance eating disorder services in the ACT, including funding to boost clinical services at headspace and the Head to Health hub to provide additional support for young people with, or at risk of, an eating disorder and targeted e-therapy support
  • $320,000 to headspace for additional youth support, to assist headspace services with the surge in demand experienced during the lockdown
  • $150,000 to CatholicCare to support the Stepping Stones program for children aged 12 and under who have suffered trauma
  • $100,000 to Meridian ACT to boost support services for LGBTI+ people.

Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, David Coleman, said this funding aligns with similar investments for the people of Victoria and New South Wales made by the Australian Government.

“We have learned from Victoria and NSW that extended lockdowns can significantly impact the mental health of our communities,” Assistant Minister Coleman said.

“The Head to Health pop-up clinic will offer COVID safe face-to-face, video and phone supported mental health and assessment services, ensuring people in the ACT can access the services on site or from their own homes if they’re unable to travel.”

The ACT Primary Health Network (PHN) will commission the additional services and ensure the funding is on the ground as quickly as possible.

Senator for the ACT, Zed Seselja welcomed the package and said while the fight to halt the spread of the virus in the ACT continues, it was important to guard against devastating mental health impacts alongside the physical threat.

“Many of us have experienced the challenges of isolation, fear for loved ones, and the uncertainty COVID-19 brings to all aspects of our lives. It is more important than ever that we reach out and check in on our loved ones,” Senator Seselja said.

“This additional funding and extra services is crucial to ensuring Canberrans can access mental health support when they need it.”

This emergency support package follows a record $2.3 billion mental health package announced in the 2021–22 Budget. The Australian Government has invested 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 any time 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.

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.

Ministers: 

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