Mental Health: Help and Support

As wildlife sector volunteers we are ‘the helpers’, and we don’t often let ourselves be ‘the helped’. This bushfire crisis has been an intense time for many, and the recovery ahead means we’ll be running a steady marathon. Seeking help to be in the strongest state we can be to continue caring for wildlife is important. It’s also pivotal to the people around us that we look after ourselves and the personal relationships that sustain connection.

Supporting the physical, mental and emotional wellness of the volunteers within the wildlife care sector is the founding basis of Two Green Threads. At a time when drought, fires and heat waves can overwhelm our ease of finding help, Two Green Threads has collated information from a range of sources about how to access mental health services.

There is free mental health support for everyone. There is no pressure to talk. but don’t let the reason not to talk be because you don’t know where to access help.

At a time when animals and their habitats are increasingly threatened, the volunteers of the wildlife care and rehabilitation sector play a key role in the future of wildlife and our planet – we need to care for ourselves and each other.

There are a range of options to find mental health support services in person, on line or by phone – click the options below to see more information:

Please note: We also have downloadable resources available here to help our community during bushfire recovery (and other difficult times)

Option 1 – if you need crisis support right now

Crisis call services

  • Lifeline: 13 11 14
  • Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636
  • Mensline: 1300 789 978
  • Griefline: 1300 845 745 (operates midday – 3am, 7 days)

Other phone or online support services

  • Beyond Blue have created an online forum – click here
  • Beyond Blue also have an online web chat service – click here

Option 2 – Accessing a Psychologist

Always be aware that you have options as to who you choose to go to…

Speak with a local psychologist

Where can I find one?

Web pages which allow you to find psychologists in your area:

  • The largest professional body for psychologists is the Australian Psychological Society – click here. There is also a phone service to help find a local psychologist – call 1800 333 497.
  • Other associations include:
    • Association of Clinical Psychologists – click here
    • Australian Association of Psychologists Inc. – click here

The Federal Government has a website to help find local health services which is another way to learn more about local providers – click here

You can also access a free referral service and sessions with psychologists through a registered animal related charity – this is offered only to those within the animal and wildlife related fields and it may involve a local psychologist or a telephone / on-line meetup – click here

Do I have to pay?

In January 2020, the Federal Government announced a package of funding and support for the mental health of those affected by the bushfires (read here). This included recognition that people did not have to have suffered a financial loss to be affected.

Any persons affected by the bushfires are eligible for 10 free psychological sessions billed to Medicare, and without the need to go to a GP to have a referral.

For any mental health services it is always best to double check about whether there is any cost, and how many times you can access the services for free. For sessions with psychologists or social workers, also ask if they will bulk bill the fee and whether there is any gap.

Access free government support by phone or web

As part of the federal government package, money for mental health services has been distributed to different geographical groupings around Australia, each representing a government health organisation called a Primary Health Network (PHN). Some already have a mental health phone service provider.

This map lets you work out which region/PHN you are located within.  We have made it simpler for you by going through the map, and checking all the contacts to ensure they work.  If your local area has a phone-in free counselling service, we’ve found it out for you, and put the details below for NSW, QLD, VIC and SA.  Your local Primary Health Network mental health and bushfire related support webpages are also included.

PHN/RegionPHN Website/sMental Health Phone Service ProviderPhone Number
Country SAhttps://www.summithealth.org.au/services/mental-health/Rural & Remote Mental Health Team (24/7 Mental Health Emergencies)

Summit Health
131 465

(08) 84067715
North Western Melbournehttps://headtohealth.gov.au/
South Eastern Melbournehttps://www.semphn.org.au/tag-search/11/community/53/mental-health.html
Gippslandhttps://www.gphn.org.au/gippsland-phn-leading-role-bushfire-recovery/
Murrayhttps://apmha.com.au/bushfires/APMHA HealthCare (Mon-Fri 9.00am-6.00pm)1300 514 811
Western Victoriahttps://westvicphn.com.au/health-professionals/health-topics/mental-health-care/

Option 3 – Other Digital Resources

Recovery Online

This ‘Recovery Online’ website focusing on trauma recovery provides excellent visual resources. It is video-based thoughts which can be a real help to understanding psychological trauma and are supported with toolkits provided across four themes; reclaiming life, managing emotions, connecting with others, and self-care.

At Two Green Threads, we found it very helpful to watch and consider the ‘reclaiming life’ after trauma video, as we have had such an extended and heightened level of stress and worry.   Similarly, the page which steps through trauma included ‘After a traumatic event, the world can feel unpredictable and unsafe’ really resonated with us.  Please share these widely with anyone that might draw strength from the advice they contain.

Click here to visit Recovery Online

“Getting help doesn’t mean that you’re weak, it means
you’re strong enough to admit that you’re tired of struggling.”

If Two Green Threads resonates with you, please share it amongst your network: