Please help your local hospital manage the mental health fall out of coronavirus in your local area
Coronavirus is having a devastating toll on people’s physical and mental health the world over.
As Werribee Mercy Hospital responds to COVID-19 in your local community, I’m writing from the Werribee Hospital Foundation with an emergency appeal to raise urgently-needed funds to upgrade its mental health crisis line.
Werribee Mercy manages mental health services across Melbourne’s South West, operating a 24-hour mental health triage line – 1 300 657 259 – for people in acute mental distress and for referrals to support services. The line receives upwards of 25,000 calls each year, linking to police, community workers, and health professionals across the South Western region. It’s a big job on any day, but the service is now struggling to cope with unprecedented, fast-escalating demand. The phone system it relies on is more than 15 years old, has no hold function to enable speaking to a mental health clinician and at peak times overflow calls are directed to a single answering machine.
Werribee Mercy’s crisis line is already stretched beyond capacity – when we know the worst is yet to come. We need to be able to guarantee that every call gets answered and urgent callers get the immediate response they need. We need advanced functionality to manage and allocate calls efficiently across the hospital and regional service network, and to enable virtual ‘face-to-face’ assessments with our expert team.
In any crisis, the most vulnerable people are the hardest hit. We are asking you as a member of this community to support an important local service as it responds to the urgent mental health needs of people in your area.
Tanya is among them. A lifelong resident of Melbourne’s West, Tanya is in her late 50s, lives alone and has schizophrenia. Tanya was once a regular admission to Mercy’s Mental Health Inpatient Unit. She thinks of this time as the bad old days, and something she is understandably keen to avoid again.
Coronavirus, however, is a challenge. Long dormant voices in Tanya’s head have returned. They come at night, telling her that she and everyone she loves will get COVID-19. Tanya’s insomnia is back too, and she knows from past experience that she is on the precipice of a dangerous downward spiral.
Fortunately, since January when COVID-19 first hit in the news, Tanya has maintained weekly contact with Mercy's triage team. When the voices at night get too distressing, she calls the crisis line.
“I always feel better when I reach out to Mercy. At night, when my GP and psychiatrist aren’t available and my friends are asleep, I can talk to one of the clinicians. We work through my options, assess the immediate risk. Do I need to come in? They help me feel calmer and safer. They are trusted and expert hands. They listen and care. At two in the morning, they’re there.”
It is a distressing time for all of us but our vulnerable community members most of all.
At Werribee Hospital Foundation, we know that people in this community care for each other in a crisis and look out for our vulnerable neighbours.
This is an urgent appeal to ask you to please help us to support the mental health of our community in a time of crisis. With your help, we hope to raise $30,000 to fund immediate upgrades to our 24-hour crisis line and make sure that every call gets answered.
Can you help with a gift of $30 or more?
Please take action today so that our local public hospital can assist everybody in the community, every hour of every day, providing high holistic quality care, now and always.
We understand that you may not have much money to spare right now. Any support you can offer will mean the world to the people working tirelessly to protect the health and wellbeing of our local community. Every single gift, no matter how small or large, will be directed exactly where it is needed and will make a difference.
Thank you. Please stay safe and well, look out for one another.
CEO, Werribee Hospital Foundation
PS. It is a not widely enough known fact that the Werribee Hospital Foundation was established to proudly support this community and this community alone. This means that all donations will do good right here in your area. Donations over $2 are tax-deductible.
** To protect the privacy of patients, names have been changed