Mental health gets a helping hand

The mental impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have left many feeling stressed and anxious. But local support is at hand with a new service to help those struggling during the extended lockdown.

The Head to Health Pop Up service echoes a system put in place in Victoria during their extended lockdown last year. It has been financed by the federal government and is part of 10 being rolled out in NSW at a cost of $10.6 million.

Is there someone in your family suffering with their mental health: Wentworth Healthcare CEO Lizz Reay can help.

Is there someone in your family suffering with their mental health: Wentworth Healthcare CEO Lizz Reay can help.

The free service launched this week and is available for all ages on 1800 595 212Monday to Friday, between 8.30am to 5pm (except public holidays). No referral is needed.

When you call a trained mental health professional will talk to you and help direct you to an appropriate service.

Primary Health Networks in NSW were tasked with establishing these services in just four weeks. Wentworth Healthcare, the provider of the Nepean Blue Mountains Primary Health Network, has worked to establish the service locally.

The extra pressures of isolation, home schooling, loss of income and the uncertainty of the pandemic is taking its toll on many of our residents

Wentworth Healthcare CEO Lizz Reay

Wentworth Healthcare CEO Lizz Reay said, "The service has been set up to be integrated with existing mental health services in each local area, with the additional support of 10 Head to Health Pop Up mental health hub locations which can provide mental health care, through telehealth or COVID-safe face-to-face appointments."

"This service will be particularly helpful for people who may not have accessed mental health services before and who may feel overwhelmed by the thought of trying to seek out help," Ms Reay said.

"Mental health issues don't discriminate. The extra pressures of isolation, home schooling, loss of income and the uncertainty of the pandemic is taking its toll on many of our residents. This service will 'hold your hand' through the process of finding the right support for you," she said.

It could be that you may have recognised a change in behaviour in someone around you, or you are aware of someone who has a clinically diagnosed mental health condition.

Head to Health hubs have multidisciplinary teams mental health workers, as well as psychologists, mental health nurses, social workers, alcohol and drug workers, who can support you through telehealth, or on-site at a hub.

The service is not for a crisis situation and warns if you need immediate help or are at risk of harm to yourself or others call 000.

Head to Health Pop Up is different from other mental health support services because sometimes people may know what type of support is right for them.

Fifteen Head to Help clinics were established in Victoria during their extended lockdown in 2020. The clinics helped thousands of people, with more than 11,000 phone calls from people seeking support and more than 5,000 referrals to a clinic.

The Head to Health pop up clinics are located in existing primary care or community settings and will operate until June 30, 2022. This Head to Health Pop Up service is different to the Penrith Head to Health centre which is still due to open in December as a permanent mental health clinic in the region.