Surge in people seeking mental health help

Daniel McCulloch
(Australian Associated Press)

 

More than one million Australians have sought mental health treatment since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

There has been a 15 per cent surge in people seeking psychological support since March.

The problem is particularly acute in Victoria, which has experienced a 31 per cent spike in the past four weeks.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he had an “absolute open door” to providing more funding where needed.

“Those who work in providing support in the mental health area know that my ears couldn’t be larger to their concerns and our actions couldn’t be greater,” he told reporters in Queensland on Wednesday.

“Whatever help is needed there, we have been quick to provide it, and we will continue to provide it.”

Mr Morrison said people right across the country wanted their lives to return to normal.

He said Victorians were doing it incredibly tough and Melburnians the toughest of them all.

“The support we have delivered for mental health I have no doubt has saved lives in Melbourne, I have absolutely no doubt about it,” the prime minister said.

“And we are going to keep saving lives.”

More than 7.4 million Medicare-subsidised mental health services have been provided since March.

Victorians still subject to coronavirus restrictions are also using services like Beyond Blue, Lifeline and Kids Helpline at much higher rates than the rest of the country.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt is concerned by the data.

“We encourage everyone to make use of the many services available, but also to connect with others to seek and provide support,” Mr Hunt said.

“Even if we are required to stay physically distant, staying socially connected is a vital part of looking after our mental health and wellbeing.”

Fifteen new centres were established in Victoria last month to help respond to urgent mental health concerns.

Lifeline 13 11 14

beyondblue 1300 22 4636

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