On Tuesday 14 July 2020, Catherine Lourey, NSW Mental Health Commissioner was pleased to join with the Honourable Bronnie Taylor MLC, Minister for Mental Health, Regional Youth and Women and Irene Gallagher, Chief Executive Officer of BEING, in launching the BEING Supported Mental Health Peer Support Line, via a webinar.
The new mental health peer support line, operating seven-days a week by mental health peer workers, is the first of its kind in NSW.
Ms Gallagher introduced the Being Supported Mental Health Peer Support Line, which is a six-month pilot program co-funded by the Mental Health Commission of NSW and the NSW Government, and operated by Being. The mental health peer support line provides supportive, reassuring, non-crisis assistance over the phone and via online platforms for people who are experiencing mental or emotional distress during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The BEING Supported Mental Health Peer Support Line is operating seven days a week from 10:00 am to 4:00pm and then from 6:00pm to 10:00pm and can be accessed by calling 1800 151 151.
The mental health support line is staffed by qualified peer workers who have a personal lived experience of mental health issues and recovery and who draw on this experience to assist and provide hope to others who are in distress.
The Honourable Bronnie Taylor MLC, Ms Lourey and Ms Gallagher discussed the tangible impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health and wellbeing of the NSW community and the need for increased supports for people experiencing mental distress.
The importance of providing a diverse range of supports was agreed as critical, noting that a one-size-fits-all approach will fail to address needs of the whole NSW community. Responding to the needs of the community through compassionate and accessible supports, such as the BEING Supported Mental Health Peer Support Line, was emphasised.
The mental health support line helps to address people’s feelings of isolation and loneliness due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and provides support to people to avoid further distress and potential crisis and reduce emergency presentations and hospitalisations.
Since the mental health support line commenced operating in June 2020, it has supported a diverse range of people across NSW. The diversity of callers demonstrates the significance of peer-led services, as an effective, alternative way of meeting people’s needs.
Both Minister Taylor and Commissioner Lourey congratulated Ms Gallagher and BEING on developing this initiative and opening the service.
In addition to the funding that the Mental Health Commission of NSW has provided to establish the BEING Supported Mental Health Support Line, the Commission has provided an additional $55,000 to support an in-depth quantitative and qualitative evaluation of the mental health support line, including its effectiveness and the experience of those who have accessed the service.
“The Commission is delighted to fund and support this exciting initiative led by BEING. This robust evaluation will help inform future directions and next steps of this great service to ensure that it best supports people in distress during COVID-19” says NSW Mental Health Commissioner, Catherine Lourey.
To learn more about the BEING Supported Mental Health Peer Support Line visit https://being.org.au/.