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Mental health the next battle in the Bega Valley’s bushfire recovery

By Ian Campbell 5 April 2018 2
People seeking sanctuary on Tathra Beach as the flames of March 18 moved into the town. Photo: Simone Ward Facebook.

People seeking sanctuary on Tathra Beach as the flames of March 18 moved into the town. Photo: Simone Ward Facebook.

Money is flowing to support good mental health in the wake of the March 18 bushfires that moved in on Tathra and surrounds.

NSW Federal Liberal Senator, Jim Molan announced the $250,000 for extra counselling services at the Recovery Centre in Bega set up to manage the physical and emotional rebuilding that will take place in the months ahead.

“This will be a hard time for many families and we want to make sure the people of Tathra have mental health support available to them during such a difficult time,” Senator Molan says.

“Although most people will recover from traumatic events like emergencies and disasters without the need for professional intervention, up to 20 percent of people are still at risk of developing significant mental health conditions.”

The money will go towards boosting the capacity of local services and providing counselling support to people in the short to medium term, with the South Eastern NSW Primary Health Network (PHN) to engage with local providers to see what additional services are required to ensure local needs are met.

“What that [money] turns into is going to depend on the feedback the PHN gets, the CEO has gone out this morning and asked local health providers and GP’s to make suggestions. They’ll see the problems first up, and they will be able to come back and make suggestions as to how we might use this money,” Senator Molan says.

Additional $$$ for mental health services in Tathra

Additional $$$ for mental health services in Tathra with Senator Jim Molan, Kristy McBain – Mayor, Bega Valley Shire Council, and Pete Murray from COORDINARE.Ian

Posted by About Regional on Monday, 2 April 2018

Bega Valley Mayor, Kristy McBain is encouraging people to keep an eye on all Tathra, Vimy Ridge, and Reedy Swamp residents.

“Obviously the physical landscape has changed, and while that might be the easy part to tackle, the psychological scars might take a lot longer to come out in people,” Cr McBain says.

“And it’s not only those people who have been directly impacted, there are people in Tathra who haven’t been fully impacted that are starting to feel those scars.

“We just need to be mindful that people are going to go through this at different times and in a variety of different ways and however we can help, we’ll be there.”

The emergency services who responded on that Sunday afternoon and the days that have followed are also encouraged to seek support and strength from the channels available now and in the future.

NSW Senator, Jim Molan, Peter Murray, South Eastern NSW Primary Health Network, Bega Valley Shire Mayor, Cr Kristy McBain. Photo: Ian Campbell.

NSW Senator, Jim Molan, Peter Murray, South Eastern NSW Primary Health Network, and Bega Valley Shire Mayor, Cr Kristy McBain. Photo: Ian Campbell.

“Your GP practice is a really good starting point,” says Peter Murray, representing the South Eastern NSW Primary Health Network.

“They’re a real entry point to lots of other services locally so if people have some concerns, and if those concerns are interfering with how they enjoy their life and how they go about their life then talking to your GP is a really good starting point.”

Mr Murray also points people to the disaster-specific mental health advice on the Beyond Blue website.

“It’s a great resource that is there when people need it and helps people recognise that what they are feeling may be a common reaction to such an event,” he says.

“There are some great suggestions about the action you can take now that will help you through.”


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Mental health the next battle in the Bega Valley’s bushfire recovery
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Bonkers 10:15 pm 06 Apr 18

Well said Ian.

While it has a massive impact on those directly affected, those involved in the cleanup can also be affected by trauma like this.

In addition to Beyond Blue, if you’re feeling adversely affected by the fires (or just life in general) you can also try Lifeline (13 11 14), or the Crises Assesment and Treatment Team (phone number varies by state, but if you head to https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/crisis-management you can find the right one for where you are).

There is still a lot of stigma associated with mental health. If you had a broken leg you wouldn’t hesitate going to the hospital to get it seen to – you wouldn’t try to fix it yourself. Just because it’s not visible, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt or broken in some way, and the people you deal with are professionals who will help but also have the cone of silence (apologies for the Get Smart reference for the younger crowd).

Keep safe, and know that there isn’t any shame in seeking help.

About Regional 2:36 pm 05 Apr 18

And we really need to make sure emergency services know they can access this support too, perhaps you need more than a beer with your mates? Ian

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