People in the Greater Geelong area experiencing mental ill-health due to the stresses of COVID-19 can now get access to support services at a new HeadtoHelp mental health hub at Barwon Health North.
The new mental health service, which opened on Monday this week, is one of 15 set up across Victoria and among six in regional Victoria following $26.9 million in funding from the federal government as part of its response to the pandemic.
Western Victoria PHN (WVPHN) chief executive officer Rowena Clift said the hub – at 155 Princess Highway, Norlane – was available to anyone in the community with or without a GP mental health treatment plan.
“Mental health issues don’t discriminate. Many people in the Geelong area may have never experienced mental ill-health before and are facing new challenges due to COVID-19.
HeadtoHelp will provide a welcoming place for those people alongside anyone else who needs mental health and wellbeing support.
“The Geelong community has been hit hard by the consequences of the pandemic including increases in unemployment over recent months and strains on local businesses taking their toll on many households. We are all living in extraordinary times. For many people, the ability to cope with circumstances and events they’ve never faced before is stretching their emotional and mental health and wellbeing.
“WVPHN has worked closely with primary care services, hospitals, the Victorian Mental Health Pandemic Response Taskforce and the state and federal governments in identifying Barwon Health North in Norlane as a suitable location for the local hub.”
Victorian Senator Sarah Henderson encouraged anyone in regional Victoria struggling with their mental health to seek support.
“This is a terribly difficult time for so many people in regional Victoria and throughout the state. It’s important they know it’s okay not to feel okay,” she said.
“Our government recognises that the ongoing restrictions are having a significant impact on the wellbeing and mental health of individuals and communities in Victoria.
“We are committed to ensuring that support is available across the state, including here in regional Victoria.”
“The clinics are staffed by multi-disciplinary teams of mental health professionals which may include GPs, mental health nurses, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers and/or other allied health workers.”
Barwon Health’s clinical director of mental health, drugs and alcohol services Associate Professor Steve Moylan said the hub would enhance existing mental health services across Geelong, providing further options for people to get access to care when and where they needed it.
Anyone concerned about their mental health can visit the clinics in person or phone 1800 595 212 to talk to a health professional or connect to a service near them.
For more information on how to get access to the HeadtoHelp clinics and additional digital support, head to health.gov.au/resources or headtohelp.org.au.