A NEW support line has been put in place to help SA residents maintain their mental health and wellbeing, at a time when many may be feeling overwhelmed by COVID-19.
Premier Steven Marshall said this was part of a plant to protect the health and wellbeing of the state during the pandemic.
"We understand this is a very anxious time for the people of SA, and hope that this new mental health support line will go some way in helping to lift some of the distress this pandemic has created," he said.
"It comes as the federal government has also announced a $1.1 billion health package aimed at supporting people through these challenging times."
Health and Wellbeing Minister Stephen Wade said the new support line would help people to overcome the distress caused by social isolation and the lengthy periods people are spending in quarantine.
"The support line is part of the first rollout of the South Australian Virtual Support Network and will provide a localised service for South Australian's who need additional mental health support," he said.
"It will be staffed by trained Lifeline counsellors, and will receive calls and also provide a call-back support service for people in distress because of COVID-19.
"Our mental health support line will link people with dedicated counsellors. A phone line helps them deal with the increased anxiety, fear and distress the pandemic has created without increasing the risk of transmission of the virus."
"Understandably there is a lot of concern and anxiety in the community right now and I hope any South Australian who feels they need extra support, reach out to this support line."
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SA Chief Psychiatrist John Brayley said the support lines main focus will be early intervention.
"We know that if mental health concerns are identified in a timely manner, the severity and duration of the illness can be reduced," he said.
"The support line will be able to make contact with people at risk of developing mental illness as well as reach out to people who are doing the right thing by staying in isolation but may not be coping as well as they could be.
"We will be offering video and phone support for people with COVID-19 who remain in isolation, people in quarantine, or anyone who is staying at home."
As the first component of the South Australian Virtual Support Network, the support line will also coordinate people in the community who have had mental health first aid and suicide prevention training to support others, and will commission a range of non-government agencies to provide support.
Premier's Advocate for Suicide Prevention John Dawkins said members of existing Suicide Prevention Networks would be given the opportunity to participate in the Virtual Support Network if they wish to.
"Suicide Prevention Networks cover around 40 Communities across much of SA and are made up of volunteers from all walks of life," he said.
"The strength of the networks are that they are well versed in their ability to break down the stigma of help seeking, check in and encourage others to check in on their fellow community members.
"Never before has there been a need to do this more so than now."
Mr Dawkins said the Suicide Prevention Networks would have an integral role in supporting South Australians.
"I encourage them all to keep up their great work, support one another, look after themselves whilst checking in on their fellow community members," he said.
The state government is also encouraging vulnerable residents to register with the Red Cross TeleCross Redi service.
Specially-trained Red Cross staff and volunteers will make the calls, asking clients questions including how they are coping and if they need medical or food supplies, as well as reiterating latest government health advice.
Human Services Minister Michelle Lensink said the phone service had been activated to support South Australians whose wellbeing was impacted as a result of COVID-19 social distancing and self-isolated measures.
"The new, extended service is targeted to older South Australians, people living with disability, those experiencing mental illness, people recovering from an illness or accident or anyone with an ongoing health condition who are doing the right thing and self-isolating," she said.
Red Cross South Australian director Jai O'Toole said for some clients this could be the only person they spoke to that day.
"Our service is being rapidly ramped up so anyone in the community who is self-isolating and at additional risk can receive these free calls," he said.
- Details: Register for the Telecross REDi COVID-19 service at 1800 188 071 or register.redcross.org.au. The COVID-19 mental health support line will be staffed from 8am to 8pm and can be reached at 1800 632 753.
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