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Mental Health minister visits Darwin Head to Health

Mental Health minister visits Darwin Head to Health

We had the honour of meeting with the Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, Lauren Moss, at Darwin Head to Health this week. Minister Moss and our CEO, Gill Yearsley, were invited to hear from centre managers and Lived Experience support workers who discussed how the community have embraced the highly anticipated centre.

What is Head to Health?

Darwin Head to Health is an adult drop-in mental health centre in Casuarina offering on-the-spot assessments, advice, and treatment, without a prior appointment. The significance of this is huge. The Darwin community now has access to mental health services without needing a booking or referral from a GP. Simply put, if you need support and a safe space immediately, Head to Health is there.

The centre was designed with input from the community, it has multiple ‘safe spaces’ which members can use to feel secure, supported and calm. The centre ensures no one feels isolated or alone when facing a mental health challenge and removes obstacles such as long wait times for mental health support.

The Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Lauren Moss posing with NT PHN Gill Yearsley and Neami National and Darwin Head to Health staff

Why are we funding the program?

NT PHN received $14 million by the Australian Government for 4 years to establish and operate the centre.

Mental health and suicide prevention has received more attention in recent years. The centre is a big step towards tackling these challenging figures. Its open-door approach empowers people to seek immediate help when they notice the early signs of a mental health issue.

The importance of voicing lived experiences

The importance of the lived experience voice in shaping the direction of the centre and mental health conversation was the focus of the meeting. We listened to a mother describe the reality of supporting her son through his alcohol addiction and mental health challenges. She reinforced how crucial it is to have  a strong support network through recovery and how important centres like Head to Health are for the community.

The centre was co-designed by people who have lived through mental health challenges to make sure it meets local needs and complements existing services. Many of the staff have also experienced a mental health crisis and understand what members go through. We chatted about how important that is, with members feeling relaxed and more at ease when speaking to someone who has been through what they are currently facing.

We learnt so much about this amazing centre and its goals for the future over the course of the morning. To find out more visit Head to Health.

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