Mental Health help for Emergency Services workers in Australia

Mental Health help for Emergency Services workers in Australia

Posted on 17 March 2023

​The Australian Government has confirmed that funding of $4 million will be provided to The Black Dog Institute to establish the National Emergency Workers Support Service (NEWSS).

NEWSS will enable Australia's emergency workers with additional mental health support, and this service is an expansion of the National Bush Fire Support Service. NEWSS will be extended to all emergency service workers who respond to national disasters such as bushfires, floods and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Through NEWSS, emergency service workers will be able to access online mental health self-assessment and triage services including up to 12 free sessions with a clinical psychologist face-to-face or via telehealth.

This new integrated and tailored approach will make it easier for these essential workers to search for, navigate and determine their eligibility for support and appropriate resources. Service users with more sever mental health symptoms will be linked directly to either the Black Dog Institute's Depression Clinic or the University of New South Wales Traumatic Stress Clinic.

Research has shown that 39% of emergency responders are diagnosed with a mental health condition at some point in their life. They are also diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder at a rate two times higher than the general population.

In addition to the above, the service will also provide specialist mental health training to GPs and other health care professionals to help provide appropriate support and referral options to emergency service workers.

Minister, Murray Watt has said:

“We know that responding to relentless natural disasters, along with the pandemic, has no doubt put strain on our emergency service workers. Australians are so grateful for their tireless efforts, which have kept communities safe in times of need, and it’s only right that we ensure they are supported too. I’m very pleased to support this cause, which aims to make getting help easier.”

Assistant Minister, Emma McBride has said:

“The mental health impacts of natural disasters and emergencies can present over a long period of time. Australia’s emergency services workers and volunteers are critical to how significant events are responded to by governments. This service is part of a broader Government response to support the mental health and well-being of Australians after disasters.”

Original article published on Department of Health and Aged Care

Other resources mentioned in the article: Black Dog Institute and University of New South Wales Traumatic Stress Clinic

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