n the depths of September last year, as Victoria weathered some of its toughest months of lockdown, Sale’s first dedicated mental health clinic finally opened its doors.

It was funded by the Federal Government as part of its response to a pandemic that had seen Victorian calls to Lifeline leap by 25 per cent.

The number of children presenting to hospitals with self-harm injuries was up by more than 30 per cent.

And while the clinic was established in the space of just a few frantic weeks, those staffing it say the need had been bubbling for years.

The Sale centre was part of 15 dedicated mental health clinics in the Federal Government program, which were designed to offer quick, free and easy to access mental healthcare for a year.

But mental healthcare workers say these clinics were needed before COVID-19 and there will continue to be a need for their services beyond the worst of the pandemic.

Leading academic Ian Hickie, who does not work with the new clinics, says these hubs are so critical, they should be permanently funded and immediately replicated right across the country.

He says his modelling shows “if you don’t do it it costs lives” but if you do fund this kind of care, you can save lives.

Article originally published by ABC News on the 16th February 2021. To read the full article click here.