Emergency covid-19 mental health pop-up clinics set up in Sydney

Emergency pop-up clinics set up to tackle horrific teen mental health crisis in lockdown – with huge surge in kids being hospitalised

  • Ten new pop-up mental health clinics have opened to assist NSW residents 
  • Most are in the hard-hit western Sydney suburbs ravaged by coronavirus 
  • Anyone in distress can seek advice and support through Lifeline (13 11 14) 

By Charlie Moore, Political Reporter For Daily Mail Australia

Published: | Updated:

Ten new pop-up mental health clinics have opened to help NSW residents impacted by the state’s extended Covid-19 lockdown amid rising self-harm rates among teenagers.

The Head to Health clinics have been set up at existing primary care or community settings in Sydney, the Central Coast and the Illawarra where residents have been locked down since June.

Most are in the hard-hit western Sydney suburbs where economically disadvantaged communities are suffering about 80 per cent of NSW’s Covid-19 cases.

Most of the new clinics are in the hard-hit western Sydney suburbs. Pictured: Lakemba in Sydney’s west

The pop up clinics will be further supported by a state-wide intake and assessment phone service staffed by clinicians. Pictured: A Covid-19 testing nurse in PPE

The areas with new clinics, which will be in place until June, are Lakemba, Hurstville, Tuggerah, Kingswood, Thornleigh, Shellharbour, Blacktown, Parramatta, Bankstown and Liverpool.

Lockdowns are having a huge impact on mental health, particularly on young people, with NSW hospitalisations for self-harm or suicidal thoughts among 12 to 17 year olds up 49 per cent in 2021 compared to 2019. 

Lifeline is fielding 3,500 calls a day across the country, up from about 2,500 in 2019.

The Federal Government is pouring $10.6million into the clinics which will include psychologists, mental health nurses, mental health occupational therapists, social workers, and peer workers. 

They will offer video and phone supported mental health and assessment services, as well as Covid-safe face-to-face support where recommended by a clinician.

The pop up clinics will be further supported by a state-wide intake and assessment phone service staffed by clinicians.

Lockdowns are having a huge impact on mental health, particularly on young people. Pictured: Residents in Lakemba in Sydney’s west

‘We know people, particularly our young, are doing it really tough and the current outbreak is putting incredible stress and mental health pressure on many Australians,’ said Health Minister Greg Hunt. 

‘The current lockdown is also having a huge impact on students preparing for their HSC.

‘The clinics will provide vital access for year 11 and 12 students who are facing their final years of schooling and may need additional mental health support.’ 

The pop up clinics are using the same model of care as the 15 Head to Help clinics that were established in Victoria during their extended lockdown in 2020. 

These clinics received more than 11,000 phone calls and more than 5,000 referrals. 

The Federal Government budgeted a record $2.3 billion in 2021-22 for the National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan. 

Where can people go to get help? 

More information on the NSW-wide phone service and clinic locations can be found at headtohealth.gov.au.

Australians looking for support throughout the COVID-19 pandemic can also access the Beyond Blue Coronavirus Wellbeing Support Service anytime via telephone at 1800 512 348 or online at coronavirus.beyondblue.org.au.

Anyone experiencing distress can seek immediate advice and support through Lifeline (13 11 14), Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800), or the Government’s digital mental health gateway, Head to Health.

If you are concerned about suicide, living with someone who is considering suicide, or bereaved by suicide, the Suicide Call Back Service is available at 1300 659 467 or www.suicidecallbackservice.org.au.

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