26 September 2023

Mental health to be front of mind

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The Minister for Mental Health has announced that $4.5 million is to be allocated to funding for more mental health services to address increased demand by many Canberrans impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Minister, Shane Rattenbury said the events of 2020 had already taken a toll on the mental health of many people in the local community.

“Canberrans have had a very difficult start to 2020 with poor air quality, bushfires, a major hailstorm and now the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mr Rattenbury said.

“The mental health and wellbeing of a community after one disaster is always concerning, let alone several in quick succession,” he said.

“COVID-19 has been particularly difficult for some people because of the need for social distancing.”

Mr Rattenbury said the financial challenges following significant job losses and financial insecurity as a result of the pandemic had also lead to high levels of anxiety within the community.

“We’ve heard from our mental health service providers that they have seen a significant increase in people seeking mental health support, including from those who have never accessed their services before,” he said.

“Funding will be provided to increase capacity of both government and non-government service delivery, as well as enabling new and innovative services.”

Mr Rattenbury said $2.55 million had been allocated to community mental health organisations to support their existing services; $1.9 million to expand Canberra Health Services programs; $720,000 to expand the Access Mental Health and Home Assessment Acute Response Team; and $720,000 to expand the Police, Ambulance, Clinician Emergency Response (PACER) service.

He said there was also an allocation of $342,000 for the creation of two Canberra Safe Haven Cafés, to be managed in partnership with a community mental health non-government organisation.

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