A new service is being introduced to help the mental health of aged care residents in the Grampians and Wimmera regions.
More than 600 residents from 23 aged care facilities will now have access to new psychological therapy services.
Grampians Community Health is the lead provider of the service which is funded through the Western Victoria Primary Health Network. It will be delivered across Northern Grampians Shire, West Wimmera Shire, Hindmarsh Shire, Yarriambiack Shire and Horsham Rural City.
Project officer Anthea Perry said aged care facilities in the region welcomed the initiative.
"Aged care facilities have been asking for this kind of service for a long time and believe it will be of great benefit to residents," Ms Perry said.
"It's not uncommon for aged care residents to have issues around anxiety and depression and their mental health needs to be a priority."
Ms Perry said a significant number of residents in aged care facilities are likely to experience anxiety and depression. Some may have significant transition and adjustment issues and there has been increased anxiety and depression associated with the COVID-19 restrictions.
"Without a doubt COVID-19 has had a big impact on mental health, particularly through the loss of contact with family and friends and even with volunteers," Ms Perry said.
"This has put a lot of pressure on teams looking after residents so aged care providers hope these interventions will have a positive impact.
"Mental health plays a significant role in our overall wellbeing and having these supports in place will be very beneficial."
The psychological therapy services are aimed at residents with diagnosed mild or moderate mental illness, such as anxiety and depression and those assessed as being at risk of developing mental illness.
It will include face-to-face support and advice to help people tackle mental illness, group sessions and capacity to access telehealth if COVID restrictions are imposed or is preferred by the resident.
It will give residents access to services similar to those available in the community and will include evidence-based, client-centred short-term therapies delivered by mental health professionals.
Clinical care manager at Dunmunkle Lodge in Minyip, Meredith Knoop, said the service was excited to have Grampians Community Health offer psychological therapy services to residents.
"Mental health is a large part of today's society and historically there have been limited services to support people in residential aged care," Ms Knoop said.
"We believe this program will enrich the lives of our residents and offer a platform to address any mental health issues and reduce anxiety and depression," she said.
Clinician Cass Roberts has been appointed to a counselling role and another full-time position will be filled in the near future.
The service is accepting referrals from July 1.
People interested in accessing the service can contact Grampians Community Health on 03 5358 7400.
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