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New after-hours mental health space coming to Launceston

Posted on February 27, 2023

Assistant Minister Emma McBride MP, Bridget Archer MP and service user Lisa Roberts declare the new Launceston Head to Health building officially open

A new after-hours mental health support option will be available to northern Tasmanians from 27 March as part of an expansion of the Australian Government-funded Launceston Head to Health.

Relocation to a purpose-built site on Canning Street means the adult mental health centre can start offering its full range of services, with a dedicated after-hours space opening from 5pm to 9pm on week days and from 10am to 2pm on weekends.

Details of the after-hours service were provided at the official opening of the purpose-built Launceston Head to Health premises by the Assistant Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention and Assistant Minister for Rural and Regional Health, the Hon. Emma McBride MP, on 27 February.

The CEO of centre operator Stride, Mr Drikus van der Merwe, said an after-hours space was always part of the plan for the centre, and was included in the design of the purpose-built site.

“People don’t only need help during normal business hours, so we are opening an after-hours drop-in service as an alternative to the hospital emergency department for people experiencing emotional and suicidal distress,” he said.

“The after-hours space will have its own entrance and will be staffed by mental health clinicians and peer workers with lived experience who will help ensure visitors receive immediate support and appropriate referral, if needed.”

Assistant Minister McBride said mental health and suicide prevention were top priorities for the Australian Government, and the Government was working to ensure people were supported to access suitable care in all regions of Australia.

“With more than 4,000 sessions of service already provided in Launceston, this new, purpose-built premises for Launceston Head to Health means more people will get the help they need when and where they need it,” she said.

Launceston Head to Health opened its doors at an interim site on Paterson Street in January 2022, while purpose-built premises were constructed at 62-64 Canning Street. The service relocated to Canning Street in mid-January this year.

Primary Health Tasmania (Tasmania PHN) received Australian Government funding to oversee development of Launceston Head to Health. The new premises were designed, built and decorated based on input from an advisory committee consisting of local community members.

Primary Health Tasmania General Manager Mr Mark Broxton said: “We heard the centre should feel warm, welcoming and inclusive, rather than clinical and controlled. There should be natural light, art that reflects the local community, and quiet, softly-lit spaces where people can connect with peers and other support people.

“It’s great to see these suggestions brought to life in this centre, and to hear the feedback from the people it’s here to serve.”

Primary Health Tasmania is also overseeing the establishment of further Head to Health services in Hobart, Burnie and Devonport for the Australian Government.

Northern Tasmanian representatives of mental health consumer organisation Flourish were heavily involved in the consultation process.

Flourish CEO Ms Tash Smyth said: “The centre is a shining example of what can be achieved when we come together to address a pressing need in our community, and shows the value of involving the lived experience community in the design, delivery and evaluation of the services they use.”

One of the special guests at the official opening event was Youngtown woman Ms Lisa Bailey, who won a photography competition Stride held as part of its aim to ensure the new site reflects the local community.

Lisa’s image was taken at an abandoned train tunnel at Lilydale and is about “facing the light at the end of a tunnel and getting out of a dark place”. The image has been installed at the centre, taking up a full wall at the end of a corridor.

“I can’t describe how it feels to see my image on the wall there,” Ms Bailey said. “This was a great opportunity for someone in my position, who uses photography as a way out and to express themselves, to be recognised and feel a real sense of achievement.”

To access Launceston Head to Health, people can:

  • visit the centre at 62-64 Canning Street, Launceston*
  • call 1800 595 212
  • email headtohealth.launceston@stride.com.au

There is no charge, and appointments are not required.

*Current opening hours are 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday. From 27 March, a dedicated after-hours space will be open from 5pm to 9pm Monday to Friday and 10am to 2 pm Saturday and Sunday.

More information about Launceston Head to Health is available at www.stride.com.au/who-we-help/adults/head-to-health

Read our full media release

Lisa Bailey with her prize-winning photo, ‘Light at the end of the tunnel’