13 March 2024

Safe Haven to support Bega Valley residents experiencing mental health distress

| Katrina Condie
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People near sign

The free walk-in centre was officially opened this week. Photo: Michael Holland MP.

Residents in Bega Valley and surrounding communities can now access a free walk-in service, designed to better support those experiencing mental health distress.

The new Safe Haven service opened in Bega this week and will provide a calm, culturally sensitive and non-clinical alternative to the hospital emergency department for people experiencing significant distress or suicidal thoughts.

The service is located at 17 Bega Street, Bega and is open between noon and 7 pm, seven days a week, with mental health clinicians and peer workers on hand to offer care and support.

The purpose-built unit is within easy walking distance from the Bega township and includes a quiet room, kitchen, welcoming common room, access to calming activities, private outdoor seating and a protected verandah with relaxing views.

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Safe Haven is a private and confidential service provided for people aged 16 and over. Visitors do not need to share their name or Medicare details. For anyone below the age of 16, Safe Haven requires a parent or guardian to attend.

The Bega Safe Haven is the most recent of 20 to open across NSW based on, or near, hospital grounds.

Minister for Mental Health Rose Jackson said one life lost to suicide was one too many.

“I’m committed to ensuring people who are in suicidal distress have access to services which support them at one of the most vulnerable times in their life, no matter where they live in NSW,” she added.

Member for Bega Dr Michael Holland said the walk-in service in a welcoming space was co-designed to meet the needs of people experiencing mental health distress.

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“Bega Valley residents have experienced extraordinary challenges in recent years,” he said.

“Our local community is strong and resilient, but we still face challenges in the wake of the Black Summer bushfires and COVID-19.

“Anyone experiencing thoughts of suicide, which might present as mild depression, deep sadness, emotional distress, helplessness or self-harm is welcome to visit the new Safe Haven for support.

“The new Safe Haven is an important resource for our region as it continues to recover.”

If you or someone you know needs help, you can contact:

Lifeline’s 24-hour crisis support line – 13 11 14
Suicide Call Back Service – 1300 659 467
Kids Helpline – 1800 551 800 or kidshelpline.com.au
MensLine Australia – 1300 789 978.

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