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Apr 17 2020

Be Kind and Look After Yourself

It’s been an unbelievable time for our region. From drought and raging bushfires, to floods and now a world-wide pandemic.

Research tells us that now is the time we will start to see a rise in mental health concerns post a natural disaster, but it doesn’t tell us what happens when a pandemic occurs at the same time. That’s because it’s never happened before and we’re all in uncharted territory. What we do know, is that any threat to our lives and livelihoods is going to affect us, and this is going to be compounded by recent natural disasters. 

As we navigate our way through this period, I have been encouraging our staff to look at some of the mental health resources and services available, and I want to encourage the community to do the same. 

Over the next few months we plan to have a range of online webinars available focussing on mental wellbeing. The first of these are our Mental Health Matters Workshops run by the Australian Red Cross.

There are many other services available, and I’d like to share a few below that may benefit you or someone you know.

  • Mental Health NavTool 
    Our Mental Health Navigation Tool is a simple online directory anyone can use to find a variety of services, programs and supports available in our region. This tool is updated regularly and has both Bushfire and COVID-19 specific support areas.

  • NewAccess
    This confidential low intensity mental health program, funded by the PHN and delivered by Marathon Health, offers six free sessions with a trained coach. The service is delivered over the phone and suitable for those aged 16 and over who may be experiencing signs of depression and/or anxiety. Individuals can self-refer by completing an enquiry form or calling 6333 2838.

  • Bushfire Support - Psychological Therapy Services
    People whose mental health and wellbeing has been significantly impacted by the recent bushfires can access up to 10 free sessions with a psychologist through our Bushfire Support stream. Telehealth options are also now available. The service is available with a GP referral.

  • Beyond Blue Wellbeing Support Service 
    Beyond Blue is providing a new dedicated Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service available to all Australians 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All sessions are free, one-on-one and confidential. You can access it by calling 1800 512 348.

  • Head to Health 
    This Australian Government initiative helps people find digital mental health services from some of Australia’s most trusted mental health organisations. This great resource now has a targeted COVID-19 support page which provides psychological tips for coping with infectious diseases. 

  • Telehealth Services 
    Medicare-subsidised telehealth services are now available for all Australians so we can continue to access essential primary healthcare services. This means that GPs and allied health practitioners, such as psychologists, are available via phone or video chat. Your GP is a great starting point for more information.

Lastly, I want to acknowledge our region’s incredible resilience. Over the last few weeks, I have been amazed by how quickly our staff, stakeholders and communities have adapted to this new way of life. It may continue to be different for some time yet, but I have no doubt that whatever the future holds – we will continue to band together to support and service those who need us. 

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Lizz Reay is the CEO of Wentworth Healthcare, provider of the Nepean Blue Mountains Primary Health Network. Previously Deputy CEO of Nepean Blue Mountains Medicare Local & Nepean Division of General Practice, she has an extensive background in public health.

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