Mental health support services during a crisis will be easier to access for adults and children across NSW, thanks to the NSW Liberals & Nationals Government.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro and Minister for Mental Health Tanya Davies today announced more than $23 million to expand capacity at Lifeline and Kids Helpline.
More than $5 million of this will support Kids Helpline to answer an extra 18,400 calls per year, and $6 million will enable Lifeline to introduce their Crisis SMS Service trial into NSW for the first time.
“Helplines are often the first point of contact in times of crisis, which is why we need to make services more accessible so people get the support they need, when they need it most,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“This commitment is yet another critical step forward in our journey towards zero suicides in NSW.” Mr Barilaro said the funding will go a long way to help families, especially kids, living in rural and remote areas.
“The truth is that young people in the regions are 50 per cent more likely to commit suicide, youth unemployment is 20 per cent higher, and they are more likely to use harmful drugs which can destroy families,” Mr Barilaro said.
“The tyranny of distance often means a long commute to receive mental health services, and so it makes sense for this government to invest in helplines to provide support for people no matter where they live.”
Mrs Davies said the way people are seeking support services is changing.
“We particularly want to ensure young people are able to reach help in a way that suits them – which is why this investment supports phone, text, and online counselling services,” Mrs Davies said.
Lifeline Australia acting CEO Thili Perera said the funding would increase the number of people that Lifeline can reach by allowing them to offer help in new ways, like SMS and web-based messaging.
“This helps to ensure that those who are reluctant to call a helpline, can still receive the support they need. The Lifeline text trial provides an alternative way for people to access our support quickly. Put simply, this funding will help Lifeline save more lives,” Ms Perera said.
Kids Helpline CEO Tracy Adams welcomed the funding announcement.
“The funding means we can open a new contact centre in NSW with 12 staff, allowing us to take an extra 18,400 contacts from young people needing support every year,” Ms Adams said.
Today’s announcement brings the NSW Liberals & Nationals Government total funding commitment to Lifeline to $36 million since 2011.
The NSW Liberals & Nationals Government have also committed to providing two dedicated mental health experts in every public high school to ensure students have access to vital mental health and wellbeing support as part of an $88 million investment to address bullying, anxiety, stress and other mental health concerns amongst young people.