31/03/2020 | Steven Marshall MP | Stephen Wade MLC

Many South Australians are feeling overwhelmed by COVID-19 - but now a new support line is available to people to maintain their mental health and wellbeing.

“The State Government has a strong and clear plan to protect the health and wellbeing of South Australians during this pandemic,” said Premier Steven Marshall.

“We understand this is a very anxious time for the people of South Australia, and hope that this new mental health support line will go some way in helping to lift some of the distress this pandemic has created.”

“It comes as the Federal Government has also announced a $1.1 billion health package aimed at supporting people through these challenging times.”

Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said the new support line will help overcome the distress being caused by social isolation and the lengthy periods people are spending in quarantine.

“The support line is part of the first rollout of the South Australian Virtual Support Network and will provide a localised service for South Australian’s who need additional mental health support,” Minister Wade said.

“It will be staffed by trained Lifeline counsellors, and will receive calls and also provide a call-back support service for people in distress because of COVID-19.

“Our mental health support line will link people with dedicated counsellors. A phone line helps them deal with the increased anxiety, fear and distress the pandemic has created without increasing the risk of transmission of the virus.”

“Understandably there is a lot of concern and anxiety in the community right now and I hope any South Australian who feels they need extra support, reach out to this support line.”

South Australia’s Chief Psychiatrist, Dr John Brayley, said the support lines main focus will be early intervention.

“We know that if mental health concerns are identified in a timely manner, the severity and duration of the illness can be reduced,” Dr Brayley said.

“The support line will be able to make contact with people at risk of developing mental illness as well as reach out to people who are doing the right thing by staying in isolation but may not be coping as well as they could be,” Dr Brayley said.

“We will be offering video and phone support for people with COVID-19 who remain in isolation, people in quarantine, or anyone who is staying at home.

As the first component of the South Australian Virtual Support Network, the support line will also coordinate people in the community who have had mental health first aid and suicide prevention training to support others, and will commission a range of non-government agencies to provide support.

The Premier’s Advocate for Suicide Prevention, John Dawkins MLC, said members of existing Suicide Prevention Networks will be given the opportunity to participate in the Virtual Support Network if they wish to.

“Suicide Prevention Networks cover around 40 Communities across much of South Australia and are made up of volunteers from all walks of life,” Mr Dawkins said.

“The strength of the networks are that they are well versed in their ability to break down the stigma of help seeking, check in and encourage others to check in on their fellow community members.

“Never before has there been a need to do this more so than now.

“The Suicide Prevention Networks will have the ability to play an integral part in supporting South Australians through the Virtual Support Network.

“I encourage them all to keep up their great work, support one another, look after themselves whilst checking in on their fellow community members.”

The support line will be staffed from 8am to 8pm and can be reached at 1800 632 753.

More information can be found at www.sahealth.sa.gov.au/COVID2019