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nib supports Lifeline Australia to meet increased demand for mental health support

30 June 2020

nib supports Lifeline Australia to meet increased demand for mental health support

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken an unprecedented toll on the mental health and wellbeing of Australians, with Lifeline Australia receiving 3,000 calls for support every day. That’s one call, every 30 seconds.

In response, nib and nib foundation have teamed up to provide Lifeline Australia with $500,000 in funding which will allow the 24/7 crisis support and suicide prevention service to expand their crisis text-based service, Lifeline Text, to meet the increase in demand for support during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lifeline Australia Chairman, John Brogden, said this partnership will ensure Lifeline are able to offer a complete safety net of crisis support, whether that be through their phone, chat or text services to Australians, wherever they may be.

“We are extremely grateful to nib and nib foundation, their support comes at a crucial time for Lifeline. Calls from Australians in distress have increased by 25% since the COVID-19 physical distancing restrictions began,” Mr Brogden said.

“Our independent evaluation of Lifeline Text showed that 42% of people who reached out through text, wouldn’t have sought help in any other way. So it is vitally important at this time, that we ensure Lifeline Text is as accessible as possible.

“We want every Australian to have the option to access our services if they need it, through the avenue that’s most comfortable for them. This funding will help us to do this, by expanding our Lifeline Text to offer 10,000 additional crisis interventions on top of our other crisis support services.

“We’ll also be training and managing 60 new volunteer crisis supporters so that Australians can rest assured that someone will always be there on the other end of the line to listen and support them through what can be some very dark times,” Mr Brogden said.

Funding constraints have previously seen Lifeline Australia limit their number of requests for support through Lifeline Text to 80 crisis interventions per day, leaving a significant proportion of people, particularly those living in rural and remote communities who don’t have adequate access to landlines or internet connection, vulnerable.

Increasingly, these barriers are often experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and with suicide rates almost double than non-Indigenous people, access to mental health support services through a range of avenues is crucial.

“It’s pretty grim to hear that something so many of us take for granted, like good phone service and internet connection, could be a big barrier to others seeking support and possibly saving lives,” Mr Brogden said.

nib Managing Director, Mark Fitzgibbon said the health insurer was proud to support the expansion of Lifeline Text to help ensure a full suite of crisis support services are available to those in need.

“We know that COVID-19 is having a monumental impact on the mental health of our community placing additional pressure on our healthcare system as well as support services,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.

“As a health insurer, we believe its paramount to support critical services like Lifeline, so that every Australian who’s doing it a little tough at the moment can seek the help they need in the way that best suits them,” he added.

nib has also donated $30,000 in television advertising air time to Lifeline, so they’re able to share their messages with more Australians who may need help, during prime-time television. 

The funding support is part of nib and nib foundation’s $1 million commitment to ensuring communities across Australia and New Zealand are supported during the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes, $150,000 in funding provided to Lifeline Aotearoa in New Zealand to enable an extra 2,300 hours of crisis support, which is estimated to be an additional requirement to suit the demand over the coming months.  

For 24/7 crisis support and suicide prevention services, Lifeline Australia is available to help. Phone 13 11 14 (24/7) or text 0477 13 11 14 (6:00pm – Midnight (AEST)). More information at lifeline.org.au

nib foundation is providing NSW Rural Doctors Network (RDN) with $230,000 in funding to develop self-care and wellbeing resources for health professionals in remote, rural and regional communities.