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Byron Shire
May 20, 2024

Mental health support after floods

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If there is one thing we are better at in the 21st century, it’s being aware of mental health issues and having the access to the support we and our loved ones need.

As communities continue to deal with the immediate issues of the current flood emergency, Healthy North Coast is reminding people to be aware of their mental health and wellbeing and get help if needed. 

Chief Executive Julie Sturgess said while the North Coast community is incredibly resilient, the recent events will be taking a toll on people’s heads and hearts. ‘Besides the stress of living through a flood event, we know that many residents will now be feeling devasted because they have lost their homes and possessions.

‘Residents who have been displaced, cut off or are without power, will also be feeling isolated and stressed.  

Looking after mental health is critical to coping with disaster

‘My heart goes out to them, but I want people to know they are not alone. Looking after your mental health is critical to coping with disaster. Whether you need mental health support for yourself, a family member or friend, it’s just a phone call or a click away,’ said Ms Sturgess.

Healthy North Coast’s Connect to Wellbeing service is free and offers a single point of contact to connect people with the right mental health information or service that best suits their needs.  

‘Connect to Wellbeing can provide you with information or referral to the service that’s most appropriate for you, including telehealth services offering up to 10 free telepsychology sessions,’ said Ms Sturgess.

‘Right now, we have extended Connect to Wellbeing service hours to better support people during this flood situation.’  

Ms Sturgess also reminded residents that if they can’t access their regular GP, Healthy North Coast is offering a 24-hour free GP telehealth service.  

Phone or video consults

‘Through a phone or video consult, you can access health advice, diagnosis and treatment, as well as electronic prescriptions, medical certificates and specialist referrals,’ she said.   

‘I’m also very mindful that residents in flood-affected areas may have limited access to phone and internet services. We understand telecommunications providers are working on these issues as a matter of urgency.  

‘When connectivity is restored, we urge people to access Connect to Wellbeing or GP telehealth. We know that right now and in coming weeks and months, mental health support will be critical to getting the North Coast community back on its feet again.  

To get in touch with Connect to Wellbeing:

  • call 1300 160 339 
  • email [email protected]  
  • visit https://nc.connecttowellbeing.org.au Service hours 
  • Temporary extended service hours (currently until Monday 7 March 2022)  
    Monday to Friday 8.30am – 9pm 
    Saturday and Sunday 9am – 5pm 
  • Standard service hours | Monday to Friday 8.30am – 5pm More information  
    Download Healthy North Coast’s flyer
     outlining mental health support available during and after flood events.   

    To book a GP telehealth consult: 

  • Call 1800 931 158 Crisis support  
    Healthy North Coast funds Connect to Wellbeing through the North Coast PHN program, an Australian Government initiative. It is not a crisis service. For immediate 24/7 support contact: 
  • Mental Health Access Line 1800 011 511 
  • Lifeline 13 11 14 
  • Beyond Blue 1300 224 636 
  • NewAccess (developed by Beyond Blue) 1300 224 636 
  • Kids Helpline (for children under 12 years) 1800 551 800 
  • headspace (for young adults aged 12 – 25) 1800 650 890 
  • Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467 In an emergency call 000 or go to your nearest hospital emergency department. 

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  1. What a joke. First, there are basically NO phone servicemobile or landline, no internet, NBN or wireless. As well, how many workers are employed p here to provide the community with community based support, FACE TO FACE, HUMAN TO HUMAN, and not some ludicrous digital substitute? As ALWAYS, it is a case of PROFIT and greed. The rich have no issues, they go private. What about the rest of us?

    I just tried to call the mental health access lne. Oh, of course, I don’t have any phone service …

    Years ago, I set up a community advocacy and support service. Of course, the local Area Heakth Service pulled the funding – 20 trained advocates and support workers, and, replaced this with 2 … YES 2 paid workers from Mission Australia. That’s 2 workers to service the Byron Ballina area.

    This governments priorities are clear: lip service and contempt for real people.

  2. I agree. I am struck by how uncoordinated and inadequate the response to this flood disaster seems. Victoria used to have a network of trained volunteers in Citizens Advice Bureaus who would listen carefully when people dropped in and help people access the resources they needed. The miniscule funding required to pay for the database and electricity was cut on the grounds that the Local Council could add it to their community information. All that care, expertise and indepth knowledge has now gone.


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