Perrottet Announces $130 Million for Impacts of COVID-19 on Mental Health

It's the untold story of the crisis, he said
October 16, 2021 Updated: October 16, 2021

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, self harm and eating disorders in NSW have been on the rise.

Premier Dominic Perrottet says both, along with mental health in general, have been the untold story of the crisis, with many understandably finding life very hard including those who couldn’t go to school or work.

Perrottet announced a cash injection of $130 million on Sunday to provide more appointments for psychology and psychiatry services throughout the state. The premier said this will help address the sharp rise in eating disorders and self-harm presentations, and free up more mental health beds.

It will also launch what the state government describes as the biggest suicide prevention training program ever undertaken.

“We don’t want anyone to slip through the cracks but ultimately that will only go so far,” Perrottet said of the funding.

“We (also) need to look after each other to get through this difficult time.”

He also thanked parents and teachers for their hard work ahead of the return to school for some children on Monday.

Preschoolers and students in grades 1 and 12 will return to school on Oct. 18, with the remainder to go back the week after.

“We believe the measures we have in place means we can open classrooms safely … It is incredibly important that we get kids getting back to school as soon as possible,” the premier told reporters.

“We know it’s great for them and for parents.”

NSW added 301 new locally acquired infections to its COVID-19 caseload, a day after reaching 80 per cent double-dose vaccination of eligible residents.

There are currently 619 virus patients in the state’s hospitals, 137 of them in intensive care.

A further 10 people have also died.

Health officials say NSW conducted more than 69,000 COVID-19 tests in the 24 hours to Saturday evening.

Some 91.9 percent of people aged 16 and over have now had one dose of a vaccine and 80 percent both.

The milestone means a return of community sport and dancing at hospitality venues.

The next stage of reopening will come just one week after lockdown was eased for the fully vaccinated on Oct. 11.

By Melissa Meehan