It is crazy to think that last November the world wasn’t consumed with fear of the COVID-19 crisis. Fast forward five months and the entire world is sieved with the virus.
With the outbreak of COVID-19 impacting the world in various different ways there is no surprise some people are feeling afraid, anxious and overwhelmed with the uncertainty of the future – but what is the government doing for those whom suffer from ill mental health? Who now, because of COVID-19, can’t afford to see their mental health care professionals?
The COVID-19 pandemic has created an enigma in mental health care. With the entire world social distancing, it means more people need support for anxiety, depression and an array of mental health conditions. With more and more Australians losing their job and getting stood down every day, finding suitable resources and support are proving to be extremely hard.
As of March 29, the National Mental Health Commission announced the Federal Government’s mental health response to COVID-19, with an initial $74 million commitment. Alongside the financial contribution, the Government has introduced measures to ensure that any Australian’s who may need mental health support can access it online and by telephone.
These measures include a further $680 million telehealth package for health workers to deliver vital care to Australian’s during the current health crisis. With the Government acknowledging additional investment into support is now needed more than ever as the COVID-19 pandemic develops in Australia. It’s a promise that they are continuously working closely with the mental health sector to provide support.
The $74 million mental health response mentioned above will include:
- 24/7 phone counselling services led by Beyond Blue and staffed by accredited mental health professionals to help Australian’s experiencing stress and anxiety with the impacts of the pandemic including: health concerns, employment changes, business closures or family pressures.
- Funding for critical phone and online support services such as Lifeline and Kids Helpline.
- A dedicated mental health and wellbeing program for essential workers.
- Headspace are expanding their study services to help Australian’s to stay on track in their education and preparing them for the workforce.
- First Australian’s will receive new culturally appropriate mental health and wellbeing services which are developed by Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) across a range of various platforms.
Since the announcement of telehealth therapy platforms in early March, these services have exploded into sudden prominence. Mental health services that are now inaccessible through traditional means are accessible through phones and computers with telehealth. It proves an understanding on how important and valid it is that Australian’s want to talk about what is happening right now and how they are feeling about the current situation.
While COVID-19 is a scary and uncertain time in everyone’s life - the Australian Government is paying more attention to mental health services now more than ever.
If you or someone you know is struggling due to the current COVID-19 situation, please don’t hesitate to contact any of the following either by phone call or online:
Dr Stephen Billett is Professor of Adult and Vocational Education in the School of Education and Professional Studies at Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia and a National Teaching Fellow and Australian Research Council Future Fellow. After a career in garment manufacturing, he has worked as a vocational educator, educational administrator, teacher educator, professional development practitioner and policy developer in the Australian vocational education system and as a teacher and researcher at Griffith University.
Since 1992, he has researched learning through and for work and has published widely in fields of learning of occupations, workplace learning, work and conceptual accounts of learning for vocational purposes. He is a Fulbright Scholar (1999), National Teaching Fellow (2008-2010), and Australian Research Council Future Fellowship (2011-15). In 2013, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by Jyvasksla University (Finland) and another by the University of Geneva in October 2020, elected Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences of Australia in 2015, Honorary lifetime membership of the Australian Co-operative Education Network, 2018, and appointed as an Honorary Research Fellow at Oxford University in 2019 and holds adjunct appointments at the University of Stavanger (Norway) and University West (Sweden). He currently leads research projects in Australia, Singapore and Norway funded by national granting bodies, governments and global agencies.