Newly established cohealth Mental Health & Wellbeing Hubs have been operating successfully for three weeks in Brimbank, Melton, Melbourne and Moonee Valley with the support of the Victorian Government.
The Mental Health & Wellbeing Hubs is the new name for the mental health pop-up clinics that have been established across 20 sites Victoria-wide.
cohealth Mental Health Wellbeing Coach, Hedley Duhau, says that there have been a range of referrals to the hubs from people with mental health, social and wellbeing needs related to the pandemic.
Although new to this program, Hedley is no stranger to cohealth, having worked in the mental health arm of the organisation for 17 years; 15 of which were focused in the Melton area.
“I know the community in the west well. I’ve been a mental health team leader and a support worker for nearly two decades, and it’s great to be part of this new program that is responding to the impacts of the pandemic,” said Hedley.
“The beauty of the new Mental Health & Wellbeing Hubs is that they’re flexible; people can have face to face sessions at our sites in Sunshine, Melton and Kensington, or we can visit them at home, or meet them at a park or café. Other people may prefer phone and telehealth appointments.”
“The other benefit is that because they’re local, they’re accessible for people who don’t have a car, or struggle to navigate long distances via public transport.”
“We’re already seeing referrals from a range of people and background; people who’ve never had mental health issues before, and others who found that the pandemic has exacerbated existing conditions. People have told us that the pandemic has triggered feelings of anxiety, fear and sadness,” he said.
Hedley explains that the services are responding to a range of needs in the community, not exclusively mental health issues.
“People have been affected by the pandemic in all sorts of ways. For some it’s created economic stress, or triggered alcohol and other drug issues, or gambling problems. For others they’ve found themselves in family violence situations.
“Once we’ve established a rapport with people, over a few sessions, we start to unpack the issues they’re dealing with, and we can make linkages to other specialist services,” he said.
“Other people are reporting that they just don’t feeling themselves and need someone to talk to. As a mental health wellbeing coach, our strength is having good listening skills, and really understanding what people are saying. The coaching model encourages people to use their strengths, skills and resources and support them to find solutions to the problems they’re up against.
“It could be one session, it could be 10 sessions. Our job is to help them get to where they want to be. Their goal might be that they want to get out of the house more or re-connect with friends and family.”
In addition to Mental Health Wellbeing Coaches the program offers support from trained peer workers. Peer workers are people with a lived experience of mental ill health, and they bring a knowledge of their lived experience, recovery & wellbeing journey.
Hedley’s advice for anyone who feels impacted by the pandemic is “ask for help, don’t suffer alone.”
“I encourage people to seek help in some way, even if you start by speaking to a friend or family member. If those feelings are continuing over time, if they’re interrupting your daily functioning such as work, relationships and social engagements, then it’s important that you reach out for support. The Mental Health & Wellbeing Hubs are a good starting place,” said Hedley.
The 1300 number operates 9am – 10pm weekdays and 9am – 5pm weekends.
People can also access the hubs via walk-in appointments at the following locations and times: