Legislative Council Thursday 4 June, 2020
Ms FORREST question to LEADER of the GOVERNMENT in the LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL, Mrs HISCUTT -
The additional funding for mental health services from both State and Federal Government is welcome in light of the additional impacts on COVID-19 on the mental health and wellbeing of many Tasmanians.
1 What specific measures are being put in place to support mental health in the North West Coast?
2 What specific measures are being put in place to support mental health in the West Coast?
3 What specific measures are being put in place to support mental health of young people and children in the North West region?
1 The mental health responses to COVID-19 primarily focus on telephone or online delivery that is available to all Tasmanians, including people on the North West coast.
The Australian Government has expanded the range of resources provided on the Head to Health website. The website provides links to trusted Australian online and phone supports, resources and treatment options. The website also has youth-specific mental health support links which range from apps like Check-in, Recharge or Worry Time to online forums such as the ReachOut peer support forum or the Beyond Blue Life and Wellbeing forum.
Beyond Blue has also established a new online resource and 24x7 phone counselling service which is staffed by mental health professionals to help people of all ages experiencing stress or anxiety associated with COVID-19.
The Tasmanian Government has funded a new service called A Tasmanian Lifeline - 1800 98 44 34, which commenced on 1 May 2020.
This new hotline is for any Tasmanian who may feel stressed, anxious about the future, finding social isolation a challenge, or simply need a friendly and understanding voice to talk things over with advice, information, comfort and reassurance.
The new hotline is staffed from 8am to 8pm, 7 days a week, and the service is provided in three ways:
o Call in: Tasmanians will receive psychosocial support from a trained support worker to discuss their worries and be connected where appropriate to a referral service.
o Call out: Contacting socially isolated older Tasmanians identified through existing services, family and friends who may be concerned, or by other health professionals.
o Reach out: Through partnership with those industries significantly impacted, such as tourism, hospitality and retail, identifying at-risk members and reaching out for psychosocial support, counselling or employee assistance programs.
Rural Alive and Well (RAW) have also been funded by the Tasmanian Government to provide non-clinical mental health outreach services in rural areas. This funding has provided RAW with the capacity to increase their services to the North West and West Coast areas, and an additional worker is now based in the region.
2 See response to Question 1.
3 Similarly to the response to Question 1 with regard to the broader population, the mental health responses to COVID-19 for children and young people focus on telephone or online delivery.
Kids Helpline has received additional funding to ensure that the service can meet the needs of children and young people experiencing a range of issues which may, or may not be, related to COVID-19, but may also be exacerbated by the pandemic. The service is provided through email, webchat, or over the phone counselling.
Headspace has also received funding to expand the Digital Work and Study Service. This service provides the following:
o Assisting young people with creating a resume, career planning, job searching, interview preparation, contact and collaboration with employers and social firms.
o Working with employment consultants and assisting with navigating Centrelink.
o Supporting young people in exploring suitable education options, getting into study, as well as sourcing financial support for education.
o This service is available for people aged 15-25 years via phone or online chat.
Under the Australian Government’s National Mental Health and Wellbeing Pandemic Plan, all governments will be working to facilitate increased access to mental health information, assessment and care in education settings such as early childhood, schools, TAFE and university, where there may be an increased demand for mental health and wellbeing services that can be easily accessible while people are at these sites.