You've checked in, but have you checked on your mental health?

As NSW celebrates surpassing 80% double-dose vaccination rates, a core group of Primary Health Networks (PHNs) are collaborating to ensure community members' ongoing physical and mental health remains a priority.

Western Sydney PHN, South Western Sydney PHN, Nepean Blue Mountains PHN, South Eastern NSW PHN, Northern Sydney PHN, and Central and Eastern Sydney PHN have collaborated with the community to create a video campaign in 12 languages encouraging community members to get vaccinated and reach out for mental health support. 

As of 8:00pm, 25 October, 85.5% of NSW residents have been fully vaccinated, a figure which will continue to rise. Across NSW, PHNs have been working alongside Local Health Districts (LHDs), general practices, Aboriginal medical services and community pharmacies at the coalface to drive vaccination coverage in the community. At the height of the Delta outbreak, general practices were vaccinating 500,000+ people a week across metro Sydney.

These high vaccination rates mean that NSW residents are physically protected against the risks of COVID-19. However, a rising concern within the primary care sector is protecting the mental health of the community and responding to needs they may have as a result of the pandemic and lockdown.

In a joint statement, PHN CEOs involved in the campaign stated, "This partnership ensures that we are responding to mental health needs in Greater Sydney and surrounding regions which has been the worst impacted by this Delta outbreak. A healthy population is one equipped with the resources to thrive both physically and mentally. As we move into this post-lockdown phase, we need to ensure our community is not only physically protected against the virus through vaccination, but also mentally supported to overcome the challenges of the past 18 months." 

Along with the challenges of accessing mental health services during the lockdown, evidence suggests that an additional cohort are facing mental health challenges for the first time. In the four weeks to 27 June 2021, Lifeline received 81,033 calls, up by almost 20% from the same period in 2019. These figures do not account for the impact of the most recent NSW lockdown on people's wellbeing.

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