Geographical area and visa status no barrier to mental health and wellbeing support


October 13, 2022

Being able to offer wellbeing support when and where it is needed is helping address an unmet need in communities.

Uniting Vic.Tas is one of a group of service providers involved in 23 new Mental Health and Wellbeing Hubs around Victoria. These Hubs are an initiative from the State Government in response to the significant mental health impact of COVID. The Hubs provide free and confidential support to people of all ages to help with a range of different issues or life stressors.

Toni Smith, a mental health team leader in the Cheltenham area says partnering with EACH to deliver a Hub has meant her team can now deliver services to relieve the stress and anxiety of those in the community they may not have previously been able to reach.

“It’s a very unique service in that the criteria to be accepted into the program is virtually minimal. Age is not a barrier, geographical area is not a barrier, and diagnosis is not a barrier,” says Toni.

“If you have a Visa you can be accepted, and that’s a really rare. It’s open to every facet of the community, which makes it so attractive, and it actually fills a lot of gaps.”

The Hub has seen the Mental Health and Wellbeing Team active in the community offering support to those experiencing ongoing mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, substance use or addiction, financial difficulties, homelessness or housing stress, and loneliness or social isolation.

Through the Hub, Mental Health and Wellbeing workers have been able to provide the support needed to help relieve much of their clients’ stresses and anxieties. Examples of the support they provide range from helping people from non-English speaking backgrounds successfully prepare NDIS applications, taking Polly the kelpie on her daily walks while her owner was receiving care in hospital, to providing companionship to those who may be feeling isolated.

Toni says rapport-building, consistency of care, listening, and providing social companionship are key to supporting people’s mental health and wellbeing, and helping them achieve their goals.

“The Mental Health and Wellbeing Hub program has given us the flexibility to connect with our clients through one-on-one meetings here in the office, and out in the community. We’re engaging with them by basing ourselves in community centres, as well as by travelling to their homes,” says Toni.

“[Our clients] have so many worries about so many things, because they haven’t had people to turn to. They come with five or six things at once, that are all as important as each other. Importantly, through the Hub, our clients now have the assurance of knowing they have regular, consistent support and workers to talk to,” says Toni.

The Mental Health and Wellbeing Hubs are part of a $13.3 million Victorian Government commitment to provide easier access to mental health support via innovative local pop-up mental health services to deliver the support people need, close to their homes, as they continue to navigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

To find out more about Victoria’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Hubs visit Mental Health and Wellbeing Hubs – Better Health Channel.

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