BIG ANNOUNCEMENT: CRANES Healthy Minds manager Mark McGrath, Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis, Minister for Mental Health Tanya Davies and New School of Arts general manager Skye Sear after the NSW Government funding announcement of $1.4 million for a suicide prevention initiative.
BIG ANNOUNCEMENT: CRANES Healthy Minds manager Mark McGrath, Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis, Minister for Mental Health Tanya Davies and New School of Arts general manager Skye Sear after the NSW Government funding announcement of $1.4 million for a suicide prevention initiative. Jarrard Potter

Clarence Valley receives $1.5m mental health boost

MENTAL health services in the Clarence Valley received a boost yesterday, with Minister for Mental Health Tanya Davies making two major funding announcements.

While waiting for long-term projects like Headspace to be established in the region, the NSW Government will invest $170,000 in the New School of Arts to operate Pop-Up Youth and Community Drop-In spaces in Grafton and the lower Clarence.

Also announced was a funding boost of about $1.4 million for a suicide prevention initiative to enable CRANES Community Support Programs to run the Clarence Coordinated Aftercare Service, aiming to reach out and support people at risk of suicide.

Mrs Davies said the NSW Government was committed to tackling the rise in suicides across the Clarence Valley through the use of drop-in spaces.

"The concept is quite unique and has emerged from the local community coming together from all parts and identifying what the Clarence Valley needs in their community, and after those workshops and forums they have pulled out this particular model they feel is best going to suit their needs,” she said.

"We're really proud to partner with local organisations, local communities who find unique ways to meet their needs.”

New School of Arts general manager Skye Sear said the increased funding would help fill some gaps in mental health care provided in the Clarence Valley.

"The funding we received will help us respond directly to community needs,” she said.

"Most frequently we hear from people that they don't know where to go to get good information and that there's not a lot of spaces in the community they can come together to do things like meetings, support groups, activities and events.

"So the pop-up hubs will be visible, they'll be open after hours so that young people who may be in school or community members at work can access them after hours and on weekends.”

Mrs Davies also said the CRANES Suicide Prevention Fund was one of several NSW Government initiatives aimed at lowering the rate of suicide, a key part of a decade-long, whole-of- government enhancement of mental health care.

"Suicide prevention is an issue for everyone in our communities and we know many people at risk of suicide and self-harm will not always come into contact with mental health professionals,” Mrs Davies said.

Funding for each project will be provided across four years and was awarded under an open, competitive tender process, evaluated by an expert panel.

CRANES Healthy Minds manager Mark McGrath said yesterday was a recognition of the work it was doing and the increased funding would help continue to create positive outcomes.

"It gives us the resources to go out and deliver on what we've got in our Healthy Clarence Plan,” he said.

"We've been doing this for more than 12 months, so to have the financial backing to go out and do our work is great.”

Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis said the evidence showed a suicide attempt was the strongest risk factor for subsequent suicide.

"The NSW Government knows how important it is to reach out and connect with people who may be vulnerable,” he said.

"Through CRANES, we can help provide intensive support to individuals and their families in the vulnerable period after a suicide attempt.”