Shadow Assistant Minister for Mental Health and Member for Dobell, Emma McBride, has welcomed the Federal Government’s announcement of a package to address the mental health needs of Australians during the COVID-19 health emergency, but wants it to go even further.
McBride said the Opposition especially welcomed measures such as mental health telehealth service expansion; a specific COVID-19 portal on the Government’s headtohealth.gov.au website; a national mental health campaign during the COVID-19 health emergency; a dedicated COVID-19 wellbeing support line, including for financial stresses; additional funding for mental health support providers who are experiencing unprecedented demands; and, specific services for health professionals, older and vulnerable Australians, youth, and Indigenous Australians.
“We are also pleased that the Government has taken up Labor’s call for an expansion of the Community Visitors Scheme for older Australians,” she said.
“There is more to be done, but this is an important recognition that we must look after older Australians who are already at risk of loneliness and social isolation.
“Labor urges the Government to roll out these measures immediately.
“At the same time, information on where and how to access these services must be clearly communicated to those who may need them.”
McBride said Labor would also like to see: mental health screening for those tested for COVID-19; the mental health website for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis to include a self-help clinic aimed at early intervention and reducing pressure on the health system across Australia; and, a guarantee that a mental health text service will be available 24 hours a day.
“Now is also the time for the Government to consult broadly and widely to ensure the best possible mental health response is incorporated in every measure taken in this emergency,” she said.
“This is an unprecedented health emergency and it requires an unprecedented response.
“The health and economic impact of this emergency, everything from job losses to physical isolation and illness, will have a significant flow on to our mental health and well being.
“Mental health needs to be considered in every single measure that the Government announces during this emergency.
“We should physically distance and socially connect.
“Labor stands ready to work with the Government to look after every Australian’s mental health.”
For 24/7 crisis support and suicide prevention services call Lifeline on 13 11 14.
Media release, Mar 29
Assistant Shadow Minister for Mental Health and Member for Dobell, Emma McBride