10 Head to Health pop up clinics will today open across Sydney and in the Central Coast and Illawarra providing additional mental health support for people living in New South Wales who have been substantially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Morrison Government has invested $10.6 million to rapidly establish the clinics in Lakemba, Hurstville, Tuggerah, Kingswood, Thornleigh, Shellharbour, Blacktown, Parramatta, Bankstown and Liverpool to support those living in areas most affected by the NSW lockdown.

The clinics will include teams of mental health support workers, including 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, which will be staffed by clinicians and will provide a single entry point for people living across NSW to access a range of mental health services.

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt MP said mental health is a key part of Australia’s pandemic response and the current restrictions across the country were taking a toll on the mental health and wellbeing of Australians.

“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. That is why we are prioritising mental health support and increase the availability of mental health services in some of those harder hit areas,” Minister Hunt said.

“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.”

Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, David Coleman MP, said the Government was doing everything possible to support Australians whose mental wellbeing was under stress.

“We recognise that support for people’s emotional wellbeing is critical in these extraordinary times, with loss of freedom, lack of personal contact, and work-related issues causing major distress and despair,” Assistant Minister Coleman said.

“These pop up clinics, established in record time, will be readily accessible and free and I am confident they will make a real difference for people impacted by the pandemic.”

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 have helped thousands of people, with more than 11,000 phone calls from people seeking support and more than 5,000 referrals to a clinic.

While the immediate focus of the NSW pop up clinics is on people in extended lockdown in Greater Sydney, they complement the Government’s plan to establish a national network of mental health treatment centres for adults, youth and children through the Head to Health and headspace programs.

As part of the 2021-22 Budget, the Government provided $487.2 million to establish 8 new Head to Health adult mental health centres and 24 satellite centres and provide ongoing funding for 8 existing centres.

The Morrison Government has also provided funding, in partnership with the NSW Government, for the $17.35 million ‘Lockdown Lifeline’ package for NSW, which is assisting mental health services like Lifeline, Kids Helpline, headspace and the Butterfly Foundation to increase their support.

The Government continues to make mental health a national priority, investing a record $2.3 billion in the 2021-22 Budget for the National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan to lead landmark reform of the mental health system. This includes a record $6.5 billion in mental health and suicide prevention services and supports in 2021-22, doubling since 2012-13.

The ‘Head to Health Pop Up’ clinics are located in existing primary care or community settings and will operate until 30 June 2022.

People seeking help will be able to call the dedicated number (1800 595 212), talk to a mental health professional and be triaged through this service and directed to the most appropriate care according to their individual needs.

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 (www.headtohealth.gov.au).

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.