Last month the NSW Nationals in the state government announced a $130 million program designed to fast track the state’s mental health recovery.
The government’s economic roadmap has mental health as a top priority, with the funding boost designed to provide more appointments for psychology and psychiatry services, address the sharp rise in eating disorders and self-harm presentations, free up more mental health beds, and launch the biggest suicide prevention training program ever undertaken.
Nationals Minister for Mental Health Bronnie Taylor said the aim is to train 275,000 people in the community to become mental health first aiders.
“We want NSW to be a whole state of mental health champions, which is why we’re launching a state-wide community training blitz to make sure help is always close at hand, from the schoolyard to the sports club and beyond.” Mrs Taylor said.
“This is all about fast-tracking access to boosted services to support people doing it tough right now as well as preventing the emergence of mental health issues in the future.
“Our focus over the next two years will be on supporting our young people and families, building system capacity to meet demand and supporting our communities to lead the recovery.”
The scope of this new scheme is amazing.
Bronnie Taylor said the U.S Army trained 150,000 people in one program but our scheme is “much more ambitious than that.”
The UK, for example, put 140,000 people through the Mental Health First Aid England course in England in 2018-19.
The number of people who received that training then increased to 500,000, or around one in every 100 adults.
Mrs Taylor said recent studies have found while up to 70 per cent of men say they’re unlikely to discuss mental health issues with a doctor, they might speak to a friend or a co-worker or someone at their footy club.
“Many parts of the state do not have doctors or psychiatrists available but we can have well-trained community members in small towns or communities that will act as the gatekeepers,” Mrs Taylor said.
“As we navigate the economic recovery from this pandemic we must look at new ways to support people’s mental wellbeing along the way.
“Our focus over the next two years will be on supporting our young people and families, building system capacity to meet demand and supporting our communities.”
If you or anyone you know needs help:
Lifeline – 13 11 14
Kids Helpline – 1800 551 800
MensLine Australia – 1300 789 978
Suicide Call Back Service – 1300 659 467
Beyond Blue – 1300 224 636
Headspace – 1800 650 890