Today I was delighted to attend an event in Lithgow with the Federal Member for Calare, Andrew Gee, who announced on behalf of the Federal Government additional funding to help support youth anxiety and depression.
I am passionate about improving the health of our local communities and mental health continues to be a high priority for our region.
As part of the package announced today, our PHN will receive funding to commission an outreach headspace service in Lithgow in mid-2018. I am thrilled that Lithgow will receive this much needed funding boost to help address the high rates of youth mental health in the area.
This funding outcome is the culmination of many months of advocacy by our PHN for additional services in the area in collaboration with Lithgow City Council, Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District and the broader Lithgow community.
In recent times the Lithgow community has been deeply affected by a significant spike in suicides. In response to these tragedies, Lithgow City Council initiated the Mayor’s Mental Health Taskforce. Our organisation was part of this initiative, which brought together the expertise and experience of people in the mental health sector, to develop practical and effective ways to support the people of Lithgow and to ensure they receive the services they need.
We know that mental health and suicide are complex issues that are influenced by a number of interacting psychological, social and cultural factors, and that it is important to take a holistic approach. Early intervention programs, such as headspace, are critical as they not only impact young people’s lives in the present but can influence the whole community as these young people mature into adulthood.
PHNs play a vital role facilitating the marriage of local knowledge and best practice, and we are pleased that primary healthcare is being recognised as the cornerstone of a good health system. For mental health, PHNs are now the regional fund holders for services in primary care and we aim to deliver them within a person-centred stepped care framework. Last year, we were proud to have introduced over a dozen new Mental Health, and Alcohol and Other Drug services into our region.
This year we have also commissioned Wesley LifeForce to deliver free community suicide prevention education and training workshops in Lithgow and the broader region during February, March and April. These programs will specifically target members of the community who may have a 'gatekeeper' role (eg teachers, sports coaches etc.) and will equip them with the tools to recognise and help someone who may be at risk.
I encourage all members of our community with an interest to sign up for this free and possibly lifesaving training.
Additional resources and information: