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Extra mental health support for Riverland communities

The state government will offer more mental health support to Riverland locals affected by flooding with a focus on children’s counselling and adults in distress.

Jan 18, 2023, updated Jan 18, 2023
River Murray water floods homes and sheds in the Riverland near Cobdogla. Photo: Belinda Willis

River Murray water floods homes and sheds in the Riverland near Cobdogla. Photo: Belinda Willis

The government will draw on its $1 million SA Flood Mental Health Response package to fund the relief.

With floodwaters now receding, the government expects “more people along the Murray will need extra support to stay mentally healthy and well over the coming months during the recovery period”, a statement read.

New services include a Digital Aftercare scheme delivered by SANE where counsellors provide up to eight check-in calls of support for locals in the lead-up to their first psychology appointment, after presenting to an emergency department or other health service.

Another non-governmental organization, Neami, will expand its eligibility criteria so more locals in distress can access support without a GP referral, while others, including Mind Australia and Relationships Australia, will provide more on-ground counselling to people, especially children and those from culturally diverse backgrounds.

Uniting Communities will deliver additional help to Riverland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders by working with local Elders to develop culturally-safe and accessible services, supporting connections with broader parts of the community.

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The SA Flood Mental Health Response package follows the government’s first round of mental health support announced last month which included more psychological and mental health nursing services, increased psychiatrist support via Telehealth, more children’s mental health specialists, and community resilience and wellbeing programs.

Acting Director of Mental Health Strategy at SA Health, Liz Prowse, said the government understands the challenges locals face beyond the floods themselves.

“We’ve learned a lot through our response to bushfires, COVID-19 and drought. Getting in the right support to regional communities as soon as possible is vital to helping people at risk of new or emerging mental health concerns,” Prowse said.

“This funding boost will deliver more clinicians, allied health professionals and services to the rural communities that will need them most – not just for now, but for the months to come.”

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