People experiencing emotional distress will now be able to access support in two novel ways, thanks to a $46 million investment in new suicide prevention initiatives across NSW.
Minister for Mental Health Bronnie Taylor said that 20 calming non-clinical hubs called Safe Havens and 20 Suicide Prevention Outreach Teams (SPOTs) will add to the web of support the NSW Government has already embedded in communities across NSW.
“We know suicide prevention support needs to engage distressed people where they live their lives – if we can be there to provide support before someone needs to be hospitalised, we can help reduce the likelihood of further suicidal behaviours,” Mrs Taylor said.
“Instead of struggling alone or heading to a bustling emergency department, anyone who is experiencing mental health distress can now head to one of these purpose-designed Safe Havens.
“There are no appointments or referrals needed, so whether you need some peace and quiet, a chat with someone who understands what you’re going through, or some calming activities to reduce the intensity of your negative thoughts and feelings, you can walk right in.”
South Western Sydney Local Health District Mental Health Director Dr Claire Jones said the free and confidential service is a place where people can informally chat to trained staff, have a cup of tea or coffee, play board games or puzzles, join an activity or chill out in a quiet spot.
“Our Safe Haven provides a different type of support for people who are experiencing suicidal thoughts. The Peer Support Team have had their own personal lived experience of suicidal distress and they can help people by linking them to the services and support programs that can assist them.”
District Chief Executive Amanda Larkin said Campbelltown Safe Haven features a quiet room and sensory items, including a massage chair and weighted blankets to help people relax.
“The Safe Haven is a friendly and compassionate place where everyone is welcome,” Ms Larkin said.
“All of the staff members understand first-hand how hard it can be to experience suicidal thoughts. They come from all ages, cultures and backgrounds including people who identify as LGBTIQA+.”
In addition to the new Safe Havens, 20 new mobile SPOT teams will provide rapid outreach to people in suicidal distress in the community, with 14 teams already up and running.
“The new teams combine clinical expertise and lived experience of suicide, and care for people at or near their homes – ensuring they stay connected with their family, friends and other valuable support networks,” Mrs Taylor said.
“We know thoughts of suicide can be triggered by a painful experience – such as a divorce, unemployment, retirement or death of a loved one – and these mobile teams will support individuals in the places where they live their day to day lives.”
The NSW Government has invested $25.1 million in the Safe Haven initiative and $21.35 million in the Suicide Prevention Outreach Teams, which both contribute to the Towards Zero Suicides – a 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 or one of these services:
Lifeline 13 11 14
Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467
NSW Mental Health Line 1800 011 511