Pop-up clinics boost mental health support


Tara Murray

A pop-up COVID-19 pandemic mental health and wellbeing service is expected to help provide urgent care to those most in need.

The state government last week announced there would be 20 statewide pop-up COVID-19 mental health and wellbeing services established to help already stretched services.

cohealth will deliver a service which provides support for Brimbank, Moonee Valley, Melbourne and Melton residents.

cohealth chief executive Nicole Bartholomeusz said the pandemic has taken a toll on many people in a number of different ways.

She said the pop-up service would provide support for people who are struggling with mental health issues.

“A pandemic is not just a physical health phenomenon; it affects individuals and the broader community creating anxiety, stress, stigma, and fear,” she aid.

“Loss of income, isolation from friends and family and disrupted education can exacerbate pre-existing mental health conditions, and trigger episodes in people with no history of mental ill-health.

“Investing in community-based mental health services is a sensible investment that helps our health system work more efficiently. It will fast track specialist care for people who need urgent support, while reducing the burden on acute responses such as ambulances and emergency departments.”

People will be able to access the service, which are set to be running by the end of this month, via a free 1300 number and website which will connect them with trained mental health workers in their area, who are based at community health services.

Ms Bartholomeusz said she knows people in the western suburbs had felt the most devastating health, social and economic impacts of the pandemic.

The state government also announced further funding for Triple P parenting programs, for LGBTIQ+ community organisations, to support the mental health workforce to better respond to patients presenting with trauma and funding to the Royal Children’s Hospital, Vichealth and key partners.

Orygen executive director Professor Patrick McGorry said the organisation was extremely grateful for this extra funding.

He said the system had been overwhelmed for a number of years.