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New free mental health service confirmed for Upper Hunter

Upper Hunter residents will soon have greater access to free mental health support with Social Futures* confirmed as the provider of a new Head to Health centre for the region.

Located in Muswellbrook, with outreach provided to Singleton and Scone the Head to Health service will provide a welcoming entry point for engagement with, and assessment of, people experiencing distress or needing help to find the right mental health support to meet their needs.

Head to Health is for adults (aged 18+ years) experiencing emotional distress, crises, mental ill health and or addiction, and their families through a ‘no wrong door approach’ and will provide free on the spot support, care, and advice without needing a referral or prior appointment.

Selected following a competitive tender process conducted by Hunter New England Central Coast Primary Health Network (PHN), Social Futures is expected to begin welcoming people from across the Upper Hunter into the new customised Head to Health Centre in April 2024.

Operating hours will be Monday to Friday 12pm-7pm and 12pm-4pm Saturday and Sunday. Hours may be subject to change following community consultation and implementation.

PHN CEO Richard Nankervis said Head to Health sites are intended to complement, not replace, or duplicate, mental health services already provided in the community.

“Head to Health is not designed to offer long-term ongoing care but will be based on an episode of care model, delivering evidenced-based care and family support to cover the short-to-medium term, based on clinical judgement and individual need,” he said.

“Care and support will be provided by a multidisciplinary team that may include psychologists, counsellors, credentialed mental health nurses, mental health support workers, First Nations health workers and peer support specialists.”

“All components of Head to Health have the common aim of helping more people experiencing mental health challenges to be heard, find a path forward, and access services right for them.”

“So, whether you are looking for mental health support for yourself, someone you care about, or just trying to improve your mental wellbeing - Head to Health is an ideal place to start,” Richard said.

Head to Health services are being established by the Australian Government across the nation to improve access to, and coordination of, mental health services. Services are delivered face-to-face, digitally, and via telephone on 1800 595 212.

*Social Futures is a community service organisation with 48 years’ experience working to achieve positive social change in communities.

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