A TEAM of Central Coast mental health staff has been deployed to the South Coast to provide psychological support to bushfire-affected communities.
The staff from Central Coast Local Health District (CCLHD) have joined colleagues in the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District to work with bushfire victims and emergency personnel.
The five CCLHD staff includes social workers, occupational therapists, counsellors and nurses.
They will be based in critical areas across the South Coast including hospital emergency departments and evacuation centres.
Their work will include delivering psychological first aid, clinical assessment and appropriate interventions as part of a state-wide whole-of-government response.
They will also have a consultation role, providing mental health advice to emergency staff, welfare groups and community agencies on the front line.
"As part of CCLHD's disaster management plans, we have a number of teams on standby to support those affected according to needs," CCLHD acting chief executive Kate Lyons said.
"During times of crisis we collaborate and work closely with communities and other local health districts to determine what is required and to provide assistance where we can.
"This is the first time our mental health staff have been deployed to an area outside of our local area to assist with a disaster response, but all our staff are keen to help in any way they can, alongside their colleagues from other local health districts throughout NSW."
The CCLHD staff departed by train from Gosford Station on Thursday as road access was not possible due to the impact of recent fires. They will be based on the South Coast for as long as required.
"Mental health support plays a vital role in helping individuals and communities recover from a disaster," Ms Lyons said.
"The impact can be far reaching, the effects can be long-term and the response requires flexibility. We are grateful to the mental health staff who have agreed to be a part of this disaster response team. Their commitment and dedication to helping others in the face of uncertainty and adversity is admirable."
Other local health districts have also provided support to the southern and northern NSW regions affected by fires.
If you have been affected by the disaster, the Disaster Welfare Assistance Line is staffed with counseling support and can be accessed by phone on 1800 018 444.
More help can be accessed via:
- NSW Mental Health Line on 1800 011 511;
- Lifeline on 131114;
- Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636;
- Mensline on 1300 789 978; or
- Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800.
There are also things you can do to take care of yourself and your mental health.
Click here for the NSW Health, Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health and University of Newcastle fact sheet which provides helpful tips, resources and contacts.
Locally, CCLHD again urges people to remain vigilant to the threat of bushfires, heatwave and smoky conditions in the area.
The NSW Rural Fire Service Facebook page and website rfs.nsw.gov.au has the latest information on fire conditions throughout NSW.
For all emergencies call triple zero (000).