BEING, the NSW peak body for people with lived/living experience of mental health issues, is excited to announce we will begin operating BEING SupportedThe Mental Health Peer Support Line, a new and innovative state-wide mental health peer support line from mid-June 2020.

BEING is funded by the Mental Health Commission of NSW and the NSW Ministry of Health to provide peer-to-peer (consumer) support to people who are at risk of crisis or emotional distress during the COVID-19 pandemic, initially as a phone service. BEING Supported will expand to a phone and online support service by mid-July.

The initiative plays a crucial role given that the COVID-19 crisis is creating additional anxiety and stress, especially for people who live alone, without digital access, in remote locations or who are otherwise vulnerable.

BEING CEO Irene Gallagher said: “We are delighted to be in a position to offer such an integral service to people living with mental health issues and people who are experiencing heightened stress and anxiety due to COVID.”

“We are hoping to demonstrate how effective peer support can be in engaging with people in a humanistic way, and offer an opportunity for people to connect and support people before they reach crisis point.”

Ms Gallagher added: “A key aspect is of BEING Supported is that we are opening up opportunities for meaningful employment of peer workers, particularly during these difficult times.”

“We’re looking for skilled and qualified peer workers to sit proudly at the frontline of the COVID-19 mental health response and play leadership roles guiding people through some of their most difficult and vulnerable times.”

NSW Mental Health Commissioner Catherine Lourey said: “This is a further opportunity to draw on the expertise of mental health Peer Workers and to demonstrate the value of the Peer Workers’ lived experience of illness and recovery.”

BEING Supported will be able to make referrals and provide service linkages to either low, or medium intensity mental health services, or to one-on-one peer support services through public mental health facilities and the CMO sector. This is how the service differs from existing mental health helplines.

“Alternatives such as BEING Supported will better support public mental health services, which will experience high demands during this time,” Ms Gallagher says.

BEING Supported will employ the equivalent of 10 new fulltime staff at BEING, including trained peer support workers and senior peer support staff, as well as a project manager and consumer researcher to evaluate the service.

The service will begin as a six-month pilot, though Ms Gallagher hopes to continue operating the line into 2021 and beyond: “This is a service mental health consumers have needed for a long time and based on our consultations and the feedback we receive, they will continue to need it into the future.”

BEING also wishes to acknowledge the commitment and support for this important initiative from the NSW Minister for Mental Health, Bronnie Taylor MLC, and NSW Health, and also from NSW Mental Health Commissioner Catherine Lourey and the NSW Mental Health Commission.

The operating hours and full contact details for BEING Supported: The Mental Health Peer Support Line will be advised before the service commences in mid-June.

If you are interested in applying for a position with BEING Supported please refer to the jobs page on our website.

For further information about BEING Supported: The Mental Health Peer Support Line, please stay tuned to our various communications channels.