Cri­sis cen­tre push

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Front Page - BY DEAN LAW­SON

Grow­ing con­cern about men­tal health in the Wim­mera has prompted a com­mu­nity push to es­tab­lish a 24-hour men­tal-health cri­sis cen­tre in Hor­sham.

Ro­tary clubs and ad­vo­cacy group Healthy Minds Hor­sham, in iden­ti­fy­ing a ‘se­ri­ous health-ser­vice gap’ in the re­gion, have joined forces to tackle the is­sue.

The part­ner­ship has listed cre­at­ing a cri­sis cen­tre in Hor­sham that would pro­vide ded­i­cated sup­port and in­ter­ven­tion ser­vices to help peo­ple try­ing to cope with de­pres­sive and other men­tal ill­ness as a pri­or­ity.

The project brief is for a cri­sis cen­tre to be avail­able to any­one at any time and op­er­ate as part of, with or along­side, health and ser­vice agen­cies.

Part­ner­ship rep­re­sen­ta­tives Gavin Morrow, Rob Wal­ter and Graham Ger­lach have al­ready dis­cussed the project with Na­tion­als can­di­date for the Fed­eral seat of Mallee Anne Web­ster.

They plan to lobby and raise it with other politi­cians and com­mu­nity and busi­ness lead­ers and launch a money-rais­ing project with scope and ex­pec­ta­tions sim­i­lar to Hor­sham’s re­cently com­pleted Wim­mera Can­cer Cen­tre.

Healthy Minds spokesman Gavin Morrow said the Wim­mera needed a ded­i­cated and tar­geted way of deal­ing with the unpredicta­bility of men­tal ill­ness and the ever-con­stant threat of sui­cide.

“As a com­mu­nity we can’t af­ford to ac­cept this,” he said.

“Sui­cide rates across re­gional Aus­tralia are too high and we must be pre­pared to of­fer im­me­di­ate help to peo­ple.

“One of the things we’ve talked about with politi­cians is the lack of in­vest­ment in deal­ing with what is re­ally an epi­demic.

“We rightly see a lot of time, money and ef­fort go into tack­ling the na­tional road toll.

“The num­ber of Aus­tralian deaths from sui­cide is more than five times higher and at­tracts nowhere near the same amount of at­ten­tion.”

“There are eight sui­cides a day across Aus­tralia, which rep­re­sents a much higher mor­tal­ity rate than most other ail­ments,” Mr Morrow said.

“Im­me­di­acy is the key. Se­vere at­tacks of de­pres­sion or anx­i­ety don’t dis­crim­i­nate or work to a time clock and the prob­lem is se­vere enough to more than jus­tify a ded­i­cated 24-hour cen­tre of­fer­ing spe­cial­ist sup­port.

“We need to do some­thing and I’m con­fi­dent we as a com­mu­nity have the power to cre­ate a fa­cil­ity that can work.”

Mr Wal­ter agreed, adding that a sense of cri­sis could man­i­fest in some­one late at night, early in the morn­ing or at any time and it was at that time they needed some­where to go for help.

“This prob­lem isn’t go­ing away. It is a real con­cern and we see it a lot in ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties,” he said.

Mr Ger­lach said Hor­sham and Hor­sham East Ro­tary clubs were fully be­hind the con­cept and he ex­pected other branches and other ser­vice clubs to get on board.

Mr Ger­lach said men­tal ill­ness was far from a stranger to most peo­ple yet so­ci­ety of­ten treated it dif­fer­ently to other forms of health con­cerns.

“It is sim­i­lar to can­cer. Ev­ery­one knows or has been con­cerned about some­one who has been af­fected by this,” he said.

“We need to act and as a com­mu­nity we have shown what we can do in a very short amount of time.”

The project spokes­men said the con­cept was in its in­fancy and were un­sure how a cri­sis cen­tre would fit into a health-ser­vice struc­ture in the Wim­mera.

But they agreed that it needed to be open 24 hours a day, open to any­one and pro­vide spe­cial­ist and con­fi­den­tial sup­port.

All spoke about the so­cial im­pact on com­mu­ni­ties of fail­ing to ap­pro­pri­ately deal with men­tal-health is­sues.

“Let’s make no bones about it. Sui­cide, apart from im­pact­ing on an in­di­vid­ual, has a dev­as­tat­ing flow-on af­fect on fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties,” Mr Ger­lach said.

“As a com­mu­nity we need to be able to in­ter­vene when we can,”

“We’ll ex­plore what we need to do next but it will cer­tainly in­volve invit­ing in­put from the gen­eral com­mu­nity.”

Donna Bow­man, walk­ing 3000 kilo­me­tres across Vic­to­ria to raise sui­cide aware­ness and money for or­gan­i­sa­tion Those Left Be­hind, was in Hor­sham yes­ter­day.

Hor­sham Ro­tary clubs and Hor­sham po­lice joined her at a money-rais­ing bar­be­cue.

NEED: Hor­sham armed-ser­vice vet­eran Michelle ‘Shelly’ Ped­der has joined a call for a 24-hour men­tal-health cen­tre in Hor­sham. Her story, page 3.

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