Breaking down the allocation of the near-$60 million package.
Over the Easter weekend, Premier Daniel Andrews and Minister for Mental Health Martin Foley announced a $59.4 million package to boost Victoria’s mental health system due to huge spikes in the use of key services.
Good Friday was the busiest day in Lifeline’s history, with the organisation receiving 3,200 calls that day alone, while Beyond Blue expects demand for its services to increase by 30 per cent by June. In short, the coronavirus lockdowns have elicited unprecedented demand for mental health services.
With the mental health system already under tremendous strain and the extension of Victoria’s State of Emergency expected to see an increase in the number of people seeking mental health care, the Victorian government revealed the one-off funding package as a means of keeping people connected to services while taking pressure off hospitals.
“Staying home and away from friends and family is vital right now, but it can be really difficult emotionally – particularly if you’re already struggling with mental illness,” said Premier Daniel Andrews. “That’s why providing extra support is so important.”
But where exactly will the near-$60 million go and how will it help you if you’re struggling right now?
Designed to provide care for those with existing mental health issues as well as people experiencing symptoms for the first time, the funding will be split across a range of sectors within the mental health care system. The first phase of the rollout will see $17.8 million spent on 170 extra youth and adult acute mental health beds, a key recommendation of the Royal Commission into Victoria’s mental health system.
We know a lot of people are feeling anxious and overwhelmed at the moment.
Now more than ever it’s important to prioritise your mental health. Where possible, follow your usual routines, do things you enjoy, and stick to trusted sources of information.
— Martin Foley (@MartinFoleyMP) April 6, 2020
A large chunk of the package will also be dedicated to online and phone counselling services, with almost $7 million being allocated to services supporting those with severe mental illness to prevent relapse and emergency department presentations while a further 6.7 million will expand services provided by Beyond Blue, Lifeline, Kids Helpline and Suicide Line Victoria.
The funding will also go towards training, supporting and providing resources for frontline mental health workers, as well as bolstering specific initiatives aimed at veterans, seniors, new mums, Aboriginal Victorians, multicultural and faith groups, members of the LGBTIQA+ community, victims of family violence and other vulnerable groups.
“This is an anxious and uncertain time for everyone – that’s why this support is vital,” said the Minister for Mental Health. “This investment in people’s mental health and wellbeing will save lives and is critical to our social and economic recovery after this crisis is over.”
The Victorian government has also collated a list of support services and resources, as well as providing tips and professional advice for caring for your mental health during this isolating period, all of which can be found here.
More than ever, it’s important to take care of your mental health and reach out if you are struggling, so please look after yourselves and make use of the services available if you need to.
For more information on support options, call the Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Services on 1800 512 348 or visit coronavirus.vic.gov.au.