Mental health programs supporting Canberrans in need

Australian Greens

The ACT Government is funding mental health programs to ensure Canberrans continue to receive the support they need during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

To help Canberrans continuing to feel the lingering effects of the pandemic on their mental health and wellbeing, the government is extending programs and services that were funded by the COVID-19 Mental Health Support Package and providing more funding to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAHMS) to continue operating the Adolescent Mobile Outreach Service.

As stated by Andrew Barr, Chief Minister and Treasurer

“The ACT Government is investing $15.8 million to extend a range of mental health programs and services that were funded by the COVID-19 Mental Health Support Package in May 2020 to support increased demand on services.”

These programs and services include:

  • $14.1 million to continue the seven-day-a-week operation of the Police, Ambulance and Clinician Early Response (PACER) program through until 2024
  • $500,000 for the Mental Health Foundation
  • $135,000 for Menslink
  • $100,000 to continue grief counselling services during the pandemic
  • $80,000 for Mental Illness Education ACT
  • $720,000 for the Access Mental Health Service and Home Assessment Acute Response Team (HAART)
  • $120,000 to continue the community mental health and wellbeing communications campaign
  • $80,000 for the Safe Haven Café

“Young people are at a heightened risk of declining mental health due to the impacts of the pandemic on education, employment, and social connection. In a recent ACT Government survey, more than half of young Canberrans participating in the survey described their mental health as either ‘fair’ or ‘poor’.

“We are providing $3.156 million for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAHMS) to continue to operate the Adolescent Mobile Outreach Service to improve care for vulnerable young people and increase the availability of existing services supporting young people under the age of 18 who have moderate to severe mental illness.”

The government is also investing $655,000 to increase mental health support for young Canberrans with highly complex needs who are at risk of mental illness. This funding includes:

  • scoping for a multidisciplinary service to support young people with complex needs who experience mental health challenges alongside trauma and/or drug and alcohol abuse
  • scoping for an intensive trauma service for adolescents built on the Melaleuca Place model to support recovery and positive behaviour for 13 to 17-year-olds who have experienced childhood trauma, including abuse or neglect

This investment supports the work already underway to deliver an Adolescent Mental Health Unit by September 2022.

As stated by Minister for Mental Health, Emma Davidson:

“Every Canberran has the right to good mental health. The COVID-19 pandemic has seen an increased demand for mental health services in the ACT and we are committed to funding and expanding key programs that can make a real difference at this difficult time.

“The increased funding for youth mental health services also forms part of the ACT Government’s response to the findings and recommendations from the Inquiry into Youth Mental Health in the ACT, presented to the Legislative Assembly by the Standing Committee on Education, Employment and Youth Affairs.

“Providing early support for young people to build resilience, coping strategies and mental health literacy can help prevent mental health issues later in life. The package provides a roadmap for investment for vulnerable young Canberrans and aims to address key gaps identified by the sector and experts. It will build on the investments made over the past four years and the work currently underway.”

Minister Davidson also thanked all those working to support Canberrans facing mental health concerns.

“The clinicians and support staff in our mental health services turn up to work each day in challenging circumstances, knowing they can help people to feel safe, secure, empowered and optimistic about their future,” she said.

“I thank every one of them for the work that they do to support those who need mental health support in the ACT.

“These services are always busy, and during the pandemic, demand has increased further. I thank all know that the Canberra community joins me in applauding their commitment to keeping us all well and safe.”

As stated by Minister for Policy and Emergency Services Mick Gentleman:

“This new funding for the PACER program delivers on our election commitment to provide better outcomes for Canberrans experiencing mental health challenges by reducing avoidable hospital presentations and contact with the justice system,” Minister Gentleman said.

“Keeping an individual in mental health crisis out of emergency departments and sometimes police custody, means they can start recovering sooner from a better place.

“The PACER model reduces demand on policing, paramedics, emergency departments and inpatient services. During 2020, PACER teams responded to 1249 mental health callouts that resulted in 963 Canberrans receiving care in their home, remaining in the community rather than being hospitalised.”

Need support?

Access Mental Health is available 24/7 on 1800 629 354 or (02) 6205 1065 and can assist by providing information, advice and support as well as direct access to mental health services where required.

In the event of a life-threatening mental health emergency, you should call police on Triple Zero (000).

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