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Australian Government Creates New Position To Focus On Improving Our Mental Health

Australia's new deputy chief medical officer for mental health has a big job ahead of her, to help prevent people from taking their own lives in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

It's the first time the government has appointed someone into such a role.

Former Victorian chief psychiatrist of Ruth Vine is the country's first DCMO for mental health.

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Professor Vine's role will be to listen to community concerns and provide advice to the government, with a focus on anxiety linked to social distancing and economic stress.

Government modelling forecasts a 50 per cent increase in suicide cases directly related to the economic shutdown and the associated distress and points to the possibility of such deaths outstripping direct deaths from coronavirus.

Professor Ruth Vine has been tasked with improving Australia's mental health. Image: Supplied

"We're trying to get ahead of the curve with mental health in just the same way we have done with the virus," Health Minister Greg Hunt told the ABC.

"One of the things we are aware of is that whilst we're practising physical distancing we should also be engaging in the social contact over the phone, in whatever way we can, to tell people that we're there, we understand.

"They may be isolated but they're not alone."

Health Minister Greg Hunt. Image: AAP
Australia's Chief Medical Officer Professor Brendan Murphy speaks to media. Image: AAP

Professor Vine will sit alongside Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy, who recommended mental health be treated as a priority.

If you need help in a crisis, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For further information about depression contact Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636 or talk to your GP, local health professional or someone you trust.

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