Mental health help available during COVID-19

Federal Member for Wide Bay Llew O’Brien is encouraging people to access the additional mental health and wellbeing services on offer during the COVID-19 pandemic to help them get through uncertain times.

“There is a lot of extra pressure on people at the moment, and it’s important to know that you don’t have to struggle alone – help is available,” Mr O’Brien said.

“If you feel like stress or anxiety is getting on top of you,  reach out to your GP, mental allied health practitioner or get online to access help.

“There is a range of mental health services available which people can access by telehealth or a face-to-face visit, as it’s vitally important that people continue to manage their mental health and get help when they need it.

“You can also visit the Government’s digital mental health website, Head to Health which provides information, advice, online counselling, treatment and crisis support.”

Patients with a Mental Health Treatment Plan can access Medicare rebates for up to 10 individual and 10 group allied mental health services per year with an appropriately qualified GP, psychologist, social worker or occupational therapist.

Mr O’Brien also encouraged health professionals to keep their own mental health in mind as they work through the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Regional doctors, nurses and other health professionals are also under additional pressure as they continue to provide an essential service through COVID-19 and we need to ensure they remain well and healthy too,” he said.

The Australian Government has invested $1.45 billion in 31 Primary Health Networks across Australia to plan and commission mental health and suicide prevention for their individual communities.

“This flexible approach ensures services can be targeted and tailored to meet local needs, and improve outcomes for those with or at risk of mental illness or suicide,” Federal Regional Health Minister Mark Coulton said.

“We have also expanded psychological telehealth options to limit travelling vast distances to see your health professional during this time, when people are encouraged to minimise travel.”

Minister Coulton said the Federal Government’s $74 million COVID-19 mental health package included funding for dedicated phone and online resources.

“These additional services give regional Australians access to support when they need it, regardless of where they live,” he said.

“We have also expanded Medicare-subsidised telehealth services for all Australians to ensure people still get the care they need. Now is not the time to let your medical conditions, including mental health, go untreated.

“If you have a medical condition or an issue arises that you think you may need to seek medical advice about, I strongly encourage you to call your GP or specialist and make an appointment.

“Regional Australians are doing a great job of stopping the spread and COVID-19 positive case numbers remain low, therefore it’s perfectly acceptable they seek face-to-face support from local health services.”

The Australian Government funds a range of organisations where people can raise concerns, whether they to COVID-19, the ongoing drought or the impact of the recent bushfires.

Minister Coulton said further telephone and online support is available from the following organisations:

  • eheadspace (for people aged 12 to 25 and their families) — call 1800 650 890 or chat online
  • Beyond Blue (anyone feeling depressed or anxious) — call 1300 22 4636 or chat online
  • Black Dog Institute (anyone affected by mood disorders) — online help
  • SANE Australia (people living with a mental illness) — call 1800 18 7263 or chat online
  • This Way Up Clinic (anyone with stress, anxiety and depression) — online courses
  • MindSpot (people with anxiety and depression) — call 1800 61 44 34 or online screening.
  • Pregnancy Birth Baby (telephone, video call and online counselling for parents — call 1800 882 436
  • My Aged Care (aged care services provided by the Australian government) — call 1800 200 422

The Government’s digital mental health gateway, Head to Health is an online health hub for information, advice, online counselling, treatment and crisis support.