R U OK?Media Release
Libby Coker is urging all friends, loved ones and colleagues to check in with one another and have a simple conversation about how they’re going to mark R U OK Day.
Today is R U OK? Day, a day to help raise awareness about suicide prevention across our communities and encourage people to have regular and meaningful conversations with family and friends.
Ms Coker said the impacts of COVID-19 and the resulting lockdowns have added pressure to people’s mental health and wellbeing.
In response, Ms Coker and her team have just completed a second round of calls to constituents 80 years and older to check in and make sure they are okay and to connect them to help where they need it.
“We are also calling business owners and our younger constituents because they are also particularly vulnerable at this time. Reaching out, listening and offering support is so important because many people are feeling lonely, anxious and frustrated,” she said.
“So, please join us on R U OK Day and take a moment to ask the people around you, the people you love, R U OK?
“By starting this simple conversation, you could help a family member, friend or workmate open up.”
The Federal Government recently lifted the number of Medicare subsidised therapy sessions from 10 to 20 for all Victorians living under stage 3 or 4 COVID-19 restrictions.
Ms Coker said this change was welcomed but cautioned more needed to be done to ensure we don’t suffer a “mental health wave”.
“Labor welcomes the recent mental health measures announced by the Government, but more is needed,” the Member for Corangamite said.
“But the fact of the matter is that for many, they will still need to ration those 20 sessions over a long period of time to afford the long-term support.
“By raising the cap to 20, the Government acknowledged ten sessions wasn’t enough to obtain the long-term support people needed.
“I will be calling on the Government to make 20 sessions per year the norm.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has repeatedly said mental health is a key priority for his Government and has been sitting on a Productivity Commission report for the last two months.
Ms Coker urged Mr Morrison and Health Minister Greg Hunt MP to release the report as soon as possible.
“That report, and the recommendations to improve mental health across our country, are sitting on Greg Hunt’s desk,” she said.
“This is a ‘key priority’ and it’s just sitting on the backburner. In fact, the Government doesn’t plan on responding until the 2021 Budget.
“There is a mental health crisis in Australia, and the Government isn’t doing enough. It’s a risk we cannot afford.”
- headspace Geelong: 5222 6690
- eheadspace: 1800 650 890
- Barwon Health Jigsaw triage: 1300 094 187
- Bellarine Community Health: 5253 0400
- Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800
- Lifeline 13 11 14
- Visit a GP or hospital emergency department
- In an emergency, call triple zero (000)