Anyone in the local community who is feeling rising distress or experiencing suicidal thoughts can now seek support at the new 'Safe Haven' located in Wagga, one of 20 new drop in centres being trialled across NSW.
Minister for Mental Health Bronnie Taylor said the Safe Haven is a place of refuge for anyone experiencing distress, and offers an alternative to going to a busy, stressful emergency department.
"We want people to know that they don't have to struggle alone on a bad day, they can go into the Safe Haven and get immediate help," Mrs Taylor said.
"This is all about creating a welcoming environment where people learn about their own response to crises and develop skills to help maintain their mental health. It can also be a place for people to just sit and have a cup of tea with a peer worker, join in an activity or sit in a quiet spot and listen to music."
"This Safe Haven is for everyone, there is no referral required and anyone can drop in during opening hours."
"It is another important community-based support for the Murrumbidgee region and complements existing supports such as the team of Community Gatekeepers, Wellbeing School Nurses, Suicide Prevention Outreach Team and the Safeguards child and adolescent mental health response team announced earlier this year."
Wagga's Safe Haven is located at 7 Yathong Street and open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday between 2pm and 9pm. The Griffith Safe Haven has also recently launched, temporarily located at 5 Wiradjuri Place, Griffith. A more permanent home will be secured in the city later in the year.
Murrumbidgee Local Health District's Towards Zero Suicides Coordinator, Richard Parks, said the Safe Haven service is a warm, welcoming space staffed by people who can empathise with people who require support.
"The Safe Haven provides compassionate, respectful care by peer workers with a lived experience of suicidality," Mr Parks said.
"Peer support workers are uniquely placed to offer understanding and support because they have been in their shoes."
Local people with lived experience of suicidal crisis have been involved in co-designing this new suicide prevention service. The district also consulted widely with local health and welfare agencies to tailor the delivery of care to the Wagga community.
"The Safe Haven initiative is based on a model operating in the UK, which has achieved a 33 per cent reduction in admissions to mental health inpatient units," said Mr Parks.
Anyone can drop in to a Safe Haven during opening hours. There are no age limitations, however if the person is under 16 years of age, consent to participate will need to be sought from a parent or guardian.
The NSW Government has invested $25.1 million in the Safe Haven initiative, which contributes to the Towards Zero Suicides Premier's Priority.
If you, or someone you know, is thinking about suicide or experiencing a personal crisis or distress, please seek help immediately by calling 000 (Triple Zero) or one of these services:
To connect with specialist mental health services in the Murrumbidgee, call Accessline
1800 800 944.