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LivingWorks Australia welcomes the government’s COVID-19 mental health plan


May 22, 2020

As the country’s largest provider of suicide prevention first aid training, LivingWorks Australia welcomes the government’s mental health plan in response to COVID-19 launched mid-May by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Minister of Health Greg Hunt, and National Mental Health Commission CEO Christine Morgan. Especially laudable in the National Mental Health and Wellbeing Pandemic Response Plan is the prevention focus regarding a combined government and community approach. This includes supporting suicide first aid training which potentially enables millions of trained touch points to reach out to those thinking of suicide across the country.

With many currently in distress, and that number expected to likely increase due to continued economic downturn, psychosocial risk factors, and unemployment, LivingWorks strongly supports the need to prepare communities, workplaces, and other settings, for responding to those in need so that an increase in suicide is averted.

“While we need improved mental health services, there is not a health care professional on every street corner, in every home, or at every workplace. And we know that more than half of those who die by suicide, in particular men, do not come into contact with health services or reach out,” said Shayne Connell, LivingWorks Australia CEO.

“Australia has made great strides in destigmatising suicide as an issue of public health concern and conversation, but studies tell us that most don’t feel equipped when responding to someone in a suicide crisis,” added Connell.

The solution? “We need a network of safety where people are trained on how to respond to someone thinking of suicide and reach out to them. That’s why we welcome the government’s plan that includes such an approach,” said Connell.

LivingWorks, which has over 800 suicide first aid trainers across Australia, already works in many of the settings the plan describes and is in partnership with many organisations who have trusted relationships within communities. LivingWorks is committed to building sustainable partnerships across communities to ensure that there is a community-wide commitment to supporting people in distress and at risk.

LivingWorks is also developing new tools for specific groups including LGTBI, Indigenous, and young people in schools and universities. A national coordinated approach would enhance an increase in access to training through improved dissemination.

While face-to-face training has temporarily stopped due to physical isolation measures, LivingWorks has introduced its new online 90-minute suicide first aid training. Called LivingWorks Start, it can be accessed here with a portion of sales going toward pandemic-related initiatives.

For more information on the new National Mental Health and Wellbeing Pandemic Response Plan, read here. And for anyone who needs to find safety, please click here.

Questions about LivingWorks Australia? Contact: Marc Bryant at 1300 738 382, m 0427 227 503, or