The Australian Government recognises the significant impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the mental health and wellbeing of many Australians.
This page provides a central point of information on how the Government has responded to support Australians to manage their mental health and wellbeing during this time.
You will find information on the additional funding announced by the Australian Government, information about and a link to the National Mental Health and Wellbeing Pandemic Response Plan agreed by National Cabinet, and links to webinars hosted by the Department of Health which have been a critical part in keeping the mental health and other sector stakeholders up to date about the Government’s response efforts.
There are also links to some resources to help support mental health during this time.
Australian Government Funding
Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in Australia and introduction of restrictions including physical distancing measures, the Australian Government has announced additional funding to support the mental health and wellbeing of Australians both during and after the pandemic.
On 29 March 2020, the Prime Minister the Hon. Scott Morrison MP announced an initial $74 million for mental health support including:
- Establishment of dedicated coronavirus digital resources and a 24x7 phone counselling service led by Beyond Blue and staffed by accredited mental health professionals to help people experiencing stress or anxiety associated with the impacts of the pandemic, such as health concerns, employment changes, business closures or family pressures. Beyond Blue has established this service which is called Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service.
- Funding to bolster critical phone and online support services, including Lifeline and Kids Helpline, ensuring they can meet anticipated increased demand and providing job opportunities for Australians to be trained as counsellors. Extra funding will bolster other existing services including digital peer-support to people with urgent, severe and complex mental illness who may be experiencing additional distress.
- A dedicated mental health and wellbeing program for frontline health workers will provide online and phone services, giving frontline workers support when and where they need it. The Essential Network for Health Professionals (TEN) is now available at Black Dog Institute. Smiling Mind is also providing frontline health workers with free access to their premium App which offers practical tools to support good mental health.
- The Community Visitors Scheme will be expanded, with funding for extra staff and volunteers to ensure older people receiving aged care support, stay connected on line and by phone even though they may be physically separated from others.
- headspace will expand its digital work and study service, to help younger Australians stay on track in their education and training and prepare them for the workforce.
- For First Australians, new culturally appropriate mental health and wellbeing resources will be developed by Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) across a range of platforms.
- Increased funding for Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia (PANDA) to bolster its free helpline (1300 726 306) and produce new toolkits and resources to support expecting and new parents cope with increased stress and anxiety.
- Funding to continue to deliver psychosocial support to Commonwealth community mental health clients for a further 12 months. This will allow additional time for people with severe and complex mental illness to complete their applications and testing for support under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
- A targeted mental health communications campaign as part of the broader Coronavirus communications campaign. This will include wide-ranging advertising, social media engagement, education and awareness initiatives to keep the conversation going about mental health as the full impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic emerge.
- Continued expansion of the resources provided on the Government’s digital mental health gateway Head to Health, giving people access to trusted mental health information and services.
- Extra investment in the Australian Psychological Society’s Find a Psychologist website, to ensure people can connect with a psychologist if they need one, no matter where they are around Australia.
These measures complement the expansion of telehealth services to ensure that people can continue to access their mental health treatment services by videoconferencing or telephone.
The full plan can be found here.
The Media Release for this funding package announcement can be found here.
The Fact Sheet for this funding package announcement can be found here.
Webinars for stakeholders
The Department has been conducting webinars to update stakeholders and practitioners on the Government’s COVID-19 response. As well as providing the latest updates, the panel focus their discussion on telehealth and answer questions and comments.
You can view the most recent webinar here.
You can view previous webinars and download transcripts here.
You might find online and phone-based mental health resources helpful. Some suggestions are below. You can find more with our Search tool.