19 July 2022

The ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, housing shortages and cost of living pressures are having a direct impact on the mental health and wellbeing of South Australians.

Brett Williams, Mind Australia General Manager – South Australia, speaking on ABC Radio, said there is increasing demand for mental health supports, particularly in the Riverland area - in the eastern parts of South Australia along the Murray River.

Mind services have had a 156 per cent increase in referrals since the last financial year.

“Some of our programs have a pretty open referral process so we get self-referrals, referrals from GPs and we do see an increase in people seeking our support,” Mr Williams said.

“Some of it has been around our programs that help people transition to the NDIS; a lot of people try to see if they meet the criteria for that but just generally there’s a lot of stuff going on at the moment that is putting pressure on our communities and we are seeing an increase in levels of distress.

“A lot of our workers in the Riverland and elsewhere have their own lived experience of mental illness so they really understand what people are going through and are able to connect with them and help them.”

Mind has been providing mental health support in South Australia for 17 years and currently offers three services in the Riverland region; Country Wellness Connections, Service Navigation and Individual Psychosocial Rehabilitation Support service.

Country Wellness Connections, funded by the Country South Australia Primary Health Network uses Mind’s My Better Life tool to assist people with mental health and wellbeing concerns.

“Country Wellness Connections works with people on things that they feel like they need to address,” Mr Williams said.

“We have what’s called our My Better Life Plan, which looks at a whole range of different domains in peoples’ lives and identifies areas that they would like to set goals and work on. Then they have a dedicated worker who provides them with support and mentoring to reach those goals.”

Mr Williams said Service Navigation, also funded by the Country South Australia Primary Health Network, helps people with complex needs “over and above” mental health needs.

“These clients might need to connect with other support services, which can be difficult for people experiencing mental health concerns.

“Part of that services is working with other providers so we’ve got clear pathways so people can find their way to the service that they need. Another aspect of that program is it helps people test their eligibility for the NDIS.”

Mind’s Individual Psychosocial Rehabilitation Support service is a community-based program funded by South Australia Department of Health and Wellbeing.

Psychosocial supports help people with mental health and wellbeing issues manage daily activities, rebuild and maintain connections, engage with education and employment, and participate fully in the community. These are supports which help people take positive steps in their recovery journey.

A referral from the Care Coordination Team is required to access this program.

To learn more about Mind support services in South Australia and the Riverland region, please contact us via Mind Connect or phone: 1300 286 463

If this article raises concerns for you, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14. Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islanders can also call 13 YARN (13 92 76) a 24/7 national crisis support telephone service staffed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.