Lifeline Launches Exclusive Bushfire Crisis Hotline
The immediate bushfire crisis may be under control but the "loss and grief" of the emergency still looms, with a dedicated mental health support service launched to help those in need.
Crisis support service Lifeline said its phone lines have had 10 percent more callers since the bushfire crisis ballooned in December, with spikes up to 14 percent to its 13 11 14 number on the worst days.
Lifeline has now launched a special Bushfire Recovery Crisis Support line, with callers able to dial 13 43 57 (13 HELP) to access mental health support and information about other services.
"From the thousands of additional calls that have come into Lifeline, and from our teams on the ground, it’s clear people need both crisis support and simple, clear information about what is available to them in their local community when they need it," a spokesperson for Lifeline said on Monday.
"As always, it’s important that Lifeline can be there for every person who needs us, when they need us."
Lifeline is working with the federal government's National Bushfire Recovery Agency to "provide crisis support and deliver timely access to information about services that are directly related to an individual’s community."
"The loss and grief caused by the bushfires will have an impact on the mental well-being of many people and their communities, both now and well into the future," a spokesperson said.
With the immediate bushfire emergency now under control, attention has turned more directly to supporting those victims trying to put their lives back together.
Last month, the NSW government deployed mental health support teams to bushfire-affected regions.
“We are delivering mental health support where and when it is needed most and we will be there for as long as it takes to help people recover from the devastating bushfires,” said Bronnie Taylor, NSW Minister for Mental Health.
“We want to ensure people in bushfire-affected communities can access appropriate and timely services to help with their mental health and well-being."
Labor leader Anthony Albanese and shadow health minister Chris Bowen have suggested the Medicare cap on mental health consultations -- currently capped at 10 free sessions -- be lifted in bushfire regions.
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.