14 November 2019

​People recovering from bushfires that have ravaged NSW communities and taken lives and property are being encouraged to access mental health and counselling services .

Minister for Mental Health Bronnie Taylor said the resilience of people in regional communities is well known, but no one should feel like they need to go it alone in the coming days, weeks, or months.

“My message to the brave people in fire ravaged communities like those of Northern NSW, the Mid-North Coast and the Hunter is to reach out for help and tap into the counselling and mental health services available on the ground,” Mrs Taylor said.

“The widespread loss and distress caused by a major event such as this impacts the whole the community, and those affected need support now and in the months ahead.

“Disaster Welfare Services, including counselling support, are currently being provided at 21 Evacuation Centres across the state.”

NSW Chief Psychiatrist, Dr Murray Wright, said many people, including those who are usually healthy and strong, may be experiencing sadness, sleep disturbance, fear or anxiety.

“This is a very normal reaction, and may be experienced immediately or sometimes much later,” Dr Wright said.

Anyone experiencing persistent issues impacting their day-to-day lives are encouraged to talk to their General Practitioner or regular health care provider.

The Rural Adversity Mental Health Program (RAMHP), which operates across rural and remote NSW, has coordinators in fire affected areas working directly with communities, providing on the ground support, connecting people to support and assistance and visiting evacuation centres daily.

To contact your local RAMHP Coordinator go to Rural Adversity Mental Health Program (RAMHP)and type in your postcode.

To contact your local mental health service call the NSW Mental Health Line on 1800 011 511. Alternatively you can call Lifeline on 13 11 ​14. For practical assistance call the Disaster Welfare Assistance Line 1800 018 444.

In 2019–20 the NSW Government is investing a record $2.2 million into services and infrastructure for people living with mental illness, and their families and carers.