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Mental health funding boost vital for locked-down residents’ wellbeing

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Australia’s roadmap out of COVID-19 must include increased mental health support for a struggling community severely impacted by the lockdowns and restrictions they have had to endure over the last 18 months of the pandemic. Moonee Valley Mayor Cam Nation has repeated his call for State and Federal Governments to immediately boost funding for mental health services so more resources are accessible.

“Lockdowns remain a necessary part of pandemic response, but our local health providers urgently need more funding and support to meet the demand for health services. Mental health support is absolutely critical to help our community, particularly our most vulnerable residents, navigate and emerge from this ongoing crisis,” Mayor Nation said.

Psychologist from Systemic Psychology in Essendon, Anthony Hurst, is supporting the Mayor’s call as Moonee Valley residents endure Melbourne’s sixth lockdown, citing the unprecedented mental health impacts of the pandemic response.

“A lockdown is a unique situation that can take away or limit all of the things that matter to us at once. Perhaps the hardest part, is that even when it’s over we are all acutely aware it can happen again and we have no control over it,” Mr Hurst said.

“When we look at the definition of trauma, inescapability is one of the core conditions.”
Mr Hurst adds that mental health services are stretched to the limit.

“Almost every psychologist we know in the area is fully booked. People need local services, but at the moment it’s so hard to find anyone with availability to help,” Mr. Hurst said.

“I moved to private practice last November, and just 20 weeks later our books were closed for 2021. That’s the equivalent of a local restaurant being fully booked for the year by April. I think that speaks volumes for how much support our local community is needing.”

Mayor Nation said that such experiences highlight the need for boosted mental health funding so that adequate resources are available for the community.

“It’s OK to seek help, especially during times like these, and that help should not be difficult for anyone to access,” Mayor Nation said.

Council has been urging greater Government support for mental health for the past three years, and has been advocating for a Headspace clinic for the municipality and a response to the National Disability Insurance Scheme mental health gap. In line with the wonderful community spirit that exists in Moonee Valley, residents are encouraged to keep in contact with their neighbours with a socially distant chat over the fence to support each other’s wellbeing during the latest lockdown. Residents may also want to connect with the Council’s Acts of Kindness project or join a local ‘look out for your neighbour’ social media page.