10 January 2020

MEDIA RELEASE

The NSW Mental Health Commission joins others in thanking the volunteers and emergency services who are fighting bush fires and assisting people in distress across NSW.

Our thoughts are with the resilient communities and people around NSW who have been and are being impacted by the current bushfire emergency. It is heartening to see the level of support being offered by the wider community in Australia and across the world as we experience these extreme conditions. In some areas where the fires have passed through there have also been sightings of new growth emerging from the burnt forest floor – a sign of hope for recovery in the future.

Bushfires impact more than the physical environment and can have a serious impact on the mental health and wellbeing of people and communities. 

NSW Mental Health Commissioner Catherine Lourey acknowledges the distress and loss people are experiencing now and over the coming weeks and months. 

“I encourage everyone to continue to support each other and to reach out for help if they are struggling. We need to keep an eye on our first responders and volunteers as well who are doing an amazing job in very tough conditions.

“Intense and confusing emotions are common in response to stressful situations. When these emotions last longer than a few weeks or there are other signs that someone is struggling, including mood swings, poor sleep or appetite changes, then it is time to get expert help.

“If you are in distress and need support, please reach out for help to those around you, GPs or other health supports. Disaster Welfare Services at the Evacuation Centres across the state can also help. For assistance call the Disaster Welfare Assistance Line 1800 018 444.”

The Mental Health Commission has developed a list of mental health resources for people affected by bushfires in NSW including resources developed by the NSW Ministry of Health, Lifeline, Beyond Blue, People with Disability, Rural Adversity Mental Health program, R U OK? and others. Please visit the Commission website for more details: https://nswmentalhealthcommission.com.au/assistance-for-people-affected-by-disaster

ENDS

Interviews available with NSW Mental Health Commissioner, Catherine Lourey and Deputy Commissioner Tim Heffernan

Media enquiries
Joanna Durney | joanna.durney@mhc.nsw.gov.au | P: 02 9859 5217 | M: 0438 769 185

Any community members who are concerned about their own or a loved one’s mental health are encouraged to speak with trusted support services such as a family GP. Alternatively, find local services via Wayahead’s NSW Mental Health Service Directory  or call one of the following support lines:
NSW Mental Health Line: 1800 011 511
Lifeline: 13 11 14
Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467
Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800
Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636

About the Mental Health Commission of New South Wales
The Mental Health Commission of NSW was established under the Mental Health Commission Act 2012 and came into operation on 1 July 2012. The Commission is an independent statutory authority established with the purpose of monitoring, reviewing and improving the mental health and wellbeing of the people of NSW. In all its work the Commission aims to reflect the experience of people with lived experience of mental health issues and caring, families and kinship groups.

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Last updated: 10 January 2020