The federal government has announced the creation of ten 'Head to Health' pop up clinics across New South Wales that will provide mental health support for people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The clinics opened yesterday in Sydney, Illawarra and the New South Wales Central Coast.
In a joint statement, health minister Greg Hunt and the minister assisting the prime minister for mental health David Coleman said the government has invested $10.6 million to rapidly establish the clinics in Lakemba, Hurstville, Tuggerah, Kingswood, Thornleigh, Shellharbour, Blacktown, Parramatta, Bankstown and Liverpool to support those living in areas most affected by the NSW lockdown.
They said the clinics will include teams of mental health support workers, including psychologists, mental health nurses, mental health occupational therapists, social workers, and peer workers. They will offer video and phone supported mental health and assessment services, as well as COVID-safe face-to-face support.
The pop-up clinics will be further supported by a state-wide intake and assessment phone service that will be staffed by clinicians and provide a single entry point for people living across NSW to access a range of mental health services.
Minister Hunt said mental health is a key part of Australia’s pandemic response and that the current restrictions across the country were taking a toll on the mental health and wellbeing of Australians.
“We know people, particularly our young, are doing it really tough and the current outbreak is putting incredible stress and mental health pressure on many Australians. That is why we are prioritising mental health support and increase the availability of mental health services in some of those harder hit areas,” he said.
“The current lockdown is also having a huge impact on students preparing for their HSC. The clinics will provide vital access for year 11 and 12 students who are facing their final years of schooling and may need additional mental health support.”
Minister Coleman said the government was doing everything possible to support Australians whose mental well-being was under stress.
“We recognise that support for people’s emotional wellbeing is critical in these extraordinary times, with loss of freedom, lack of personal contact, and work-related issues causing major distress and despair,” he said.
“These pop-up clinics, established in record time, will be readily accessible and free and I am confident they will make a real difference for people impacted by the pandemic.”
The clinics in NSW are using the same model of care as those that were established in Victoria during their extended lockdown in 2020.