A raft of additional mental health funding has been announced by the ACT and Federal Government’s to boost support for struggling Canberrans.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr said locally, the Government will provide an additional $14 million to expand support during the lockdown as well as into the future.

“The ACT Government is providing a further immediate Community Support package as well as some additional long-term funding for local mental health and community support programs.”

Short-term ACT Government support

Under the short-term measures, $1 million has been allocated to the Police, Ambulance and Clinician Emergency Response program to improve emergency support for those living with a mental illness.

Additional funding will also be used to improve access to a range of local mental health services including Directions Health Services, The Interchange Health Co-Op, Community Options and Canberra Alliance for Harm Minimisation and Advocacy.

Care Financial Services will receive increased funding to support Canberrans who’ve lost work or income over the lockdown.

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Young people suffering moderate to severe mental health illnesses will have access to more services to receive at-home care.

Services supporting locals living with eating disorders, as well as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, refugees, and asylum seekers will also receive more funding.

The Chief Minister encourages locals to reach out if they need help during the ACT lockdown.

“It is one of the most challenging times that our community has faced. It’s okay to not be okay at the moment and support is available.”

Commonwealth support

Young people and children will also benefit from an additional $2.5 million of Federal Government funding aimed at boosting the availability of key mental support services.

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Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention David Coleman said that includes $1.6 million to establish an ACT Head to Health Pop-Up mental health clinic.

“The Head to Health pop-up clinic will offer COVID safe face-to-face, video and phone supported mental health and assessment services, ensuring people in the ACT can access the services on site or from their own homes if they’re unable to travel.”

The Commonwealth funding will also enhance eating disorder services, youth support at Headspace and further support kids aged 12 and under who have suffered trauma, through CatholicCare’s Stepping Stones program, among other things.

Long-term ACT Government support

$10.3 million of the ACT Government’s investment will be used for longer term mental health support, a part of the ACT Budget.

The Chief Minister said $7.5 million will be used to provide more timely, supportive, and accessible mental health care for young people.

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“This includes funding for an integrated face-to-face and digital mental health care program for young people through an online platform – the Moderated Online Social Therapy Program.”

Boosts have also been given to Catholic Care’s Youth and Wellbeing program, as well as parent support line Parentline.

Alcohol and other drug services will also be expanded.

Nearly $1 million has been handed to the Needle and Syringe Program to explore a new medically supervised drug consumption facility.

The Chief Minister said design work can also start for a new community-led alcohol and other drug, and mental health precinct thanks to $503,000 of funding.

“This includes design work for a new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander residential alcohol and other drug rehabilitation facility in partnership with Winnunga Nimmityjah.”

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The announcements follow Tuesday’s ACT COVID-19 press conference revealing 16 new cases have been detected in the Territory.

Today’s case summary:

  • 3 were in quarantine for their entire infectious period
  • At least 11 were in the community while infectious
  • 9 have known links
  • 4 are household contacts
  • 10 COVID-19 patients are in hospital
  • 2 are in the ICU and both need ventilation
  • There are 227 active cases in the ACT
  • The total amount of cases in this outbreak is 641
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