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HeadtoHelp is an initiative in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and is being led by the six Victorian Primary Health Networks (PHNs). Funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health, it was announced yesterday by the Australian Government’s Minister for Health, Greg Hunt.

The response includes the establishment of 15 mental health hubs across Victoria, including two hubs for Gippsland.

Mr Hunt confirmed the locations of 15 mental health hubs throughout Victoria as part of a $31.9 million package for the state. The 15 hubs – which are named HeadtoHelp hubs – will receive $26.9 million of the broader funding package, with nine hubs throughout greater Melbourne and six hubs located in regional Victoria..

Gippsland PHN has successfully advocated for a ‘Hub and Satellite’ model to ensure HeadtoHelp services reach beyond the two mental health hub sites by enabling the roll out of satellite sites, particularly important in country Victoria.

Services will be operational from tomorrow, 14 September 2020, with a foundation workforce and will be rapidly scaled up to full capacity in hub and satellite locations. In recognition of the challenges of workforce in rural and regional areas, the evidence-based design of the HeadtoHelp model ensures best use of current, existing multidisciplinary workforce teams whilst attracting new workforce into Gippsland. The services are designed to complement and raise awareness of existing services in each location.

The HeadtoHelp initiative includes a state-wide 1800 phone line inclusive of best practice initial assessment, intake and referral to ensure services offered match the needs of the individuals. The intake process will provide a no wrong door approach.

Once fully established, the hubs and satellite centres will work in an integrated way within the HeadtoHelp model of care, offer multidisciplinary teams of mental health workers, including psychologists, mental health nurses, social workers, alcohol and drug workers, peer support workers to provide extra support during the pandemic.

Mr Hunt welcomed the opening of the hubs, the development of which followed concerns over rising incidents of self-harm, and a spike in the use of services like Beyond Blue, Lifeline and Kids Helpline by Victorians.

Since the initial announcement of the funding on 17 August by Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, Victoria’s six Primary Health Networks, including Gippsland, rapidly mobilised and launched a collaborative effort to get these new mental health services operating as quickly as possible.

Gippsland PHN Chief Executive, Amanda Proposch, said it had been an extraordinary effort to have all 15 hubs opening across Victoria today.

“We know there are people suffering or acknowledging mental health issues for the first time,” she said. “A new at-risk group has developed as a result of the COVID19 pandemic and they will need help finding the right support in a mental health system that is hard to navigate.

“That is why this new initiative is so important. Early intervention is a key element to mental health and it’s even more important during COVID19. If people don’t get that help sooner rather than later issues will be compounded.”

Ms Proposch said the hub and satellite model for Gippsland recognised the needs of a vast region and had ensured the HeadtoHelp services reached beyond the two hub sites located in Sale and Warragul. Inglis Medical Centre in Sale will operate HeadtoHelp Wellington and Central Clinic in Warragul the HeadtoHelp Baw Baw.

To ensure services will cover the breadth of the region,Gippsland PHN has started the process to identify the satellite locations and sites.

Federal Member for Gippsland, Darren Chester, welcomed the extra Federal Government assistance to help Gippslanders through a difficult period.

“Good mental health is as important as good physical health,” Mr Chester said. “There’s no shame in acknowledging you need support: life can be hard and this year has given Gippslanders more than our fair share of challenges.

“Please check in with your loved ones and keep an eye on your mates. If you think you or they might need to speak to a professional, help is available.”

Federal Member for Monash, Russell Broadbent,this funding would deliver an important clinic in Warragul that would ensure local communities had greater access to the services they needed.

“It will assist in improving mental health outcomes and help people to find a clear way ahead through the challenges of COVID-19,” Mr Broadbent said.

“The Warragul Clinic will not only be of assistance to local residents but also a valuable service centre for people in outlying towns in accessing support services and integrated health services local to their community.”

Dr Yousuf Ahmad from Inglis Medical Centre and Central Practice Manager, Mario Gupta, welcomed the opportunity to establish the initial two Gippsland hubs. “This initiative will meet an increasing demand on mental health services in our region, caused by the impact of COVID-19,” they said.

Ms Proposch said the HeadtoHelp hubs and satellites would complement existing and newly funded mental health services and incorporate best practice initial assessment and intake to ensure services offered matched the needs of the individuals. The intake process provides a no no wrong door approach.

“We recognise workforce can be a barrier in rural and regional catchments,” Ms Proposch said. “The evidence-based design of the HeadtoHelp service model makes best use of current. existing multidisciplinary workforce teams in place while new workforce is recruited into the region.

“Once fully established, the hubs and satellite sites will work in an integrated way to offer access to multidisciplinary teams of mental health workers, including psychologists, mental health nurses, social workers, and alcohol and drug workers to provide extra support during the pandemic”

“The hubs are commencing today with a foundation workforce; it’s important to start where we can and we are delighted to be partnering with Central Clinic and Inglis Medical Centre.

“Gippslanders will have the opportunity to inform, contribute and collaborate as the hub and satellite sites are rapidly scaled up to full capacity. Gippsland PHN has commenced engagement with general practices, primary care providers, existing community and mental health providers, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations and most importantly with people with a lived/living experience of mental health.

“We are all interconnected and interdependent and people and community are key partners in care delivery. This is another step towards transforming a complex mental health system in Gippsland and it is a privilege to do this important work together.”

Anyone in Gippsland who may be struggling with the impacts of COVID-19 on their lives to find the right mental health support can ring 1800 595 212 or go to the HeadtoHelp website at www.headtohelp.org.au

 

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