Page 387 - Week 02 - Tuesday, 22 March 2022

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For a large number of Canberrans, our workloads have increased, we have had more reasons to be anxious, we have lost income or we have become more isolated. As Minister Berry noted, many women have had the combined increase in unpaid workload as carers and supporting young people studying at home, and the pressures of working from home or reduced income from the economic impacts of the past two years. So very many of us fall into one or more of these categories or are close to someone who does.

Is there anyone who has not been affected in some way? It is normal to feel exhausted, stressed and even burnt out. But there is help available, and none of us has to do this alone. The ACT government is here to support Canberrans through the many services that help our community with wellbeing. Some of them are well known and have been around for a while.

For example, we fund MIEACT, who do an incredible job in speaking to our community on mental health, and who use speakers to talk about their personal experience of mental illness, encouraging people to speak about their mental health and breaking down stigma. Many people have told me that they have found MIEACT’s online resources on managing stress to be very practical and helpful.

The ACT government was one of the first governments in Australia to fund the Way Back Support Service, which provides direct and practical help for people who have made a suicide attempt, thereby significantly reducing the likelihood of further attempts. We also fund the Perinatal Mental Wellbeing Centre, formerly known as PANDSI, to carry out their essential work in protecting and improving the mental health of new mums.

We know through research that protecting mum’s mental health has a significant multiplier effect and is one of the best things we can do to protect the mental health of the whole family. The ACT government also funds the ACT Women’s Health Service, with counselling for women experiencing barriers to accessing other health services, including women who have experienced violence and trauma or are from a multicultural background.

Others are newer, or you many simply not have heard of them because you have never needed them before. We have recently opened the Safe Haven in Belconnen, which is the first of its kind in the ACT. Safe Haven provides a safe, welcoming and supportive environment for people who are struggling and need to talk. This service is something that I would like to replicate in other parts of the ACT.

We also recently launched MindMap, as Minister Berry mentioned earlier. This is a dedicated portal for ACT children and young people up to 25 years of age, and their carers, to help navigate Canberra’s mental health system and find the right service and support. A key part of this new service is the clinical and non-clinical youth workers who can support young people while they are waiting for their first appointment with a new service, holding the space and reducing the worsening of symptoms.

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