CEO Update: Looking out for those who are most vulnerable

Anna Siddall

Looking out for those who are most vulnerable 

Just as we need to stay at home to protect the people in our community most vulnerable to coronavirus (COVID-19), we also need to keep working and advocating for the people most vulnerable and in need of psychosocial support.

As we all come to terms with the many changes and new pressures we’ve experienced over the last couple of weeks, our thoughts and advocacy efforts have turned to the people most in need of psychosocial support. 

Those thousands of Australians living with severe and complex mental illness who are reliant on psychosocial support services to maintain their wellbeing and access other necessary services.

We know Australians living with severe and complex mental illness will be particularly vulnerable to declining mental and physical health during this pandemic due to heightened psychological distress, changes in access to essential support services, and physical distancing measures to limit the spread of COVID-19.

We also know that social connectedness for people with a psychosocial disability is critical, and learning to connect with others through different technologies is key. 

People with severe and complex mental health issues will need additional support to remain connected to family and friends during this emergency to promote their ongoing mental health and wellbeing.

So what can we do as the COVID-19 emergency evolves and these issues compound over time for the people who need help the most? 

What can we do to combat reduced access to support workers due to the impact of physical distancing? There’s a long list of things we’ve been communicating to governments; some are outlined below.

We need to provide support and financial assistance to those needing to access and use digital online technologies that are now replacing previous face-to-face service delivery.

We need to ensure there is a sustainable psychosocial disability workforce during and after this crisis to support consumers and prevent them from needing to access emergency services and acute mental health services which will clearly place further stress on the public health system.

We need to ensure the psychosocial disability workforce have access to protective personal equipment to remain safe. And that people with psychosocial disability, many of whom have co-morbid health conditions, similarly can access this equipment.

We need to anticipate the heightened stress and anxiety in response to the COVID-19 emergency and/or an increase in symptoms that could escalate complex behaviours in community settings and place these people at further risk. 

We need to be aware increasing levels of unemployment, financial stress, and housing instability or homelessness, may exacerbate mental health issues for people with psychosocial disability, and the whole community.

We need to support the carers and the psychosocial workforce providing consumers with the best services they can during these difficult and physically distant times.

Kind regards,

Melanie Cantwell
Acting CEO


Adam Hills says to “look after your mental health, Australia!”

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Embrace Multicultural Mental Health News

The Framework for Mental Health in Multicultural Australia (the Framework) is a free, nationally available online resource which allows organisations and individual practitioners to evaluate and enhance their cultural responsiveness. It has been mapped against national standards to help you meet your existing requirements, with access to a wide range of support and resources. 

On 8 April, the Embrace Project held a webinar with 116 participants from across Australia on the Framework for Mental Health in Multicultural Australia discussing Module 1: Planning Strategically to Meet Multicultural Community Needs. If you missed out on the webinar, it will be available on the website soon.

Stay tuned for upcoming webinars, with the next one being held on Wednesday 3 June.

We look forward to staying connected with you to improve mental health services for CALD communities across Australia.

 

Mental Health News

$5 million for research into bushfire impact on Australian communities

Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, says the Australian Government is investing $5 million via the Medical Research Future Fund in nine research projects to investigate the physiological and mental health effects of the recent bushfires on Australians and their communities. 

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Welfare checks to ensure the wellbeing of senior Australians

Welfare checks will be conducted on Senior Australians who have elected to defer aged care home services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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COVID-19 and supporting healthy relationships in Australia

As a trusted, leading provider of relationships services for over 70 years, Relationships Australia continues to support all people in Australia to live with positive and respectful relationships. In light of current circumstances, Relationships Australia is committed and equipped to continue supporting the Australian community, and to meet the inevitable increased demand for services. 

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Carer Gateway launches new support services for carers

Australia’s 2.7 million unpaid carers will have access to greater supports from today, with the introduction of the new Carer Gateway support service which will be delivered by The Benevolent Society in metropolitan Sydney (excluding South Western Sydney and Nepean).

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Psychiatry by telehealth gets boost but more changes needed

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) welcomes the most recent set of changes to expand Medicare-subsidised telehealth and telephone services, including for psychiatry services, to even more Australians.

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Charity workers must not be left out of JobKeeper payments 

Anglicare Australia says the government’s JobKeeper wage subsidy could leave thousands of charity workers behind. “Charities are seeing huge falls in their income - but the JobKeeper scheme will still leave many of their workers out,” said Anglicare Australia Executive Director Kasy Chambers.

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NEXT WEEK

On Thursday, Director of Policy & Projects, Harry Lovelock and I will meet with the Department of Health via video conference, while Harry will also attend meetings with the National Disability and Carer Alliance and Disability Support Services Committee.

On Friday we will meet with the Department of Social Services via video conference.

From all the staff at Mental Health Australia be kind to yourselves and enjoy a safe #StayAtHome Easter weekend. #LookAfterYourMentalHealthAustralia 

 

Member Profiles

Neami National is a community mental health service supporting people living with mental illness to improve their health, live independently and pursue a life based on their own strengths, values and goals. They provide services in diverse communities in Western Australia, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales, ranging from the inner-city and suburbs to regional and remote areas.
Vision - Full citizenship for all people living with a mental illness in Australian society.
Mission - Improving mental health and wellbeing in local communities.
Website - www.neaminational.org.au Facebook - www.facebook.com/NeamiNational Twitter - www.twitter.com/NeamiNational


The Victorian Mental Illness Awareness Council (VMIAC) is the peak Victorian non-government organisation for people with lived experience of mental health or emotional issues. VMIAC works to educate the community about mental illness from a consumer perspective, and provide information and support for mental health consumers around the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). They also provide advocacy services to assist consumers and improve the mental health system. VMIAC’s vision is to create a world where all mental health consumers stand proud, live a life with choices honoured, rights upheld and these principles embedded in all aspects of society.
Website - www.vmiac.org.au/

 

Reminders 

Black Dog Institute: Your weekly personal mental health check-in during Coronavirus

As the news that you will be staying at home for an extended period of time sinks in, it’s more important than ever to keep on top of your mental health. Many people will not be able to catch up  with friends and family members for some time. These are often the people who will first notice any changes in your ability to cope. For now, you need to do those check-ins yourselves. Clinical Psychologist, Kathleen O’Moore explains how to complete a weekly personal mental health check-in during Coronavirus, and why it’s important at this time

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Beyond Blue Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service

This website will be regularly updated with information, advice and strategies to help you manage your wellbeing and mental health during this time. And you can stay up-to-date by joining the Beyond Blue email community.

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Combined list of help for individuals and families

The COVID-19 pandemic adds further strain to bushfire affected communities, many of which were already under pressure from drought or flood events. A list of Australian Government support, and how to access it, is below. It includes bushfire, drought, flood and COVID-19 assistance.

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ABC Mindfully podcast: Corona Calm

Join Sydney Swans legend Brett Kirk as he teams up with the experts in Mindfulness, Smiling Mind, to show you how you can use mindfulness in different areas of your life, to find a calmer and happier you.

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Important update from TheMHS

TheMHS has decided to postpone the upcoming TheMHS Conference due to COVID-19. The are pleased to announce that it will be going ahead in February 2021. In light of this change they have amended the closing date for Award submissions. The new closing date for the Service and Program Awards is Wednesday 5th August, 2020.

Read more

 

Jessica Rowe and Peter Overton share some tips on how to #LookAfterYourMentalHealthAustralia

 
 
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mental health, pandemic, kindness, caring