CEO Primary Matters – 23 September

Heading in the Right Direction with Mental Health Support

Last week, Western Victoria PHN joined with our fellow Victorian Primary Health Networks to launch a vital new mental health support service for people who are experiencing emotional or mental health distress due to the impacts from COVID-19.

HeadtoHelp is a new statewide support service – accessed by calling 1800 595 212 – and supported by 15 mental health hubs located through regional Victoria and Melbourne. Two of those hubs are in western Victoria at Geelong and Ballarat.

It has been an enormous effort from the PHNs to quickly establish this new service which has been funded by the Federal Government. I sincerely thank everyone who has been involved in setting up HeadtoHelp, including the many health professionals who provided support and advice.

As we hopefully move toward the further easing of restrictions in both regional and metropolitan areas, the mental health and wellbeing of our communities will remain a priority concern. The lasting impacts of the pandemic are not to be under-estimated. Social isolation, financial stress and increased demands on parents and carers amongst other concerns are likely to persist well-beyond the lifting of restrictions.

In coming weeks, a public awareness campaign for HeadtoHelp will get underway. It is important we reach out to everyone in our community and encourage them to seek support. There are no wrong reasons to contact HeadtoHelp. No concern is too small.

HeadtoHelp is also a major opportunity for our primary health care sector. The service has a clear preventative health role and will focus on reducing stigma around mental health issues by being an accessible and welcoming entry point for people of any age or background.

The hybrid model for HeadtoHelp sees it offering short to medium term support. It will refer clients to other local health care providers for longer term assistance, if required. This a valuable opportunity for primary health care professionals to work in collaboration with HeadtoHelp and with each other as part of a patient-focussed approach to the long-term mental health and wellbeing of our community.

For more information on HeadtoHelp,including downloadable FAQs, see our news article New HeadtoHelp Mental Health Support Now Available in Western Victoria

Rowena Clift

Chief Executive Officer