From the comfort of their own home, Lithgow people who feel like they need mental health support can now access a new early intervention service.
Scheduled mental health coaching support is being offered as part of the NewAccess program, developed by Beyond Blue and delivered locally by Marathon Health out of the new headspace office.
The program, which has been in operation since June 27, will be officially launched in Lithgow on Wednesday, July 10.
The service is available to people over 16 who live in the Lithgow local government area.
NewAccess is available to anyone feeling stressed, anxious, isolated or struggling to deal with difficult work or personal life challenges - getting on top of challenges like these can prevent conditions such as depression or anxiety developing further.
NewAccess coach Shelley Ryan said the service included six free coaching sessions over the phone, which was part of a low intensity cognitive behavioural therapy program.
"In six weeks, you can see a vast improvement in the way people are thinking and feeling," Ms Ryan said.
The program, developed in the UK and rolled out by BeyondBlue, was designed to catch problems early, before things reached a critical point.
Ms Ryan said the guided self-help helped people to see patterns linking thinking, feeling and behaviours. It was particularly aimed at people feeling anxious and depressed.
"If people are feeling down, not feeling themselves, suffering from a bit of anxiety, it's a chance to jump in before it gets any worse," she said.
According to Beyond Blue, people living in rural areas often have to travel long distances, meaning some people aren't getting the help they need.
With many farmers, small business owners, workers and parents feeling the pressure, it is vital that people receive mental health support as early as possible to prevent their issues leading to more serious mental health conditions.
"Easy and affordable access to local mental health services in our regions is crucial. Having someone who understands the constant pressures of drought on local families and communities can make a world of difference," Beyond Blue CEO Georgie Harman said.
- In 2017, 17.2 per cent of people aged over 16 in the wider Nepean Blue Mountains area experienced high or very high levels of psychological distress, higher than the NSW average.
- In 2016-17, 9,390 people were hospitalised for mental health reasons.
- In 2016, the rate of deaths by suicide was 12.5 per 100,000 population, which is higher than the state average (10.3).
The program is funded by the Australian Government via Wentworth Healthcare, provider of the Nepean Blue Mountains Primary Health Network (PHN).
Federal Member for Calare, Andrew Gee said it would particularly valuable for people who had been affected by drought.
"This drought is taking a physical, economic and also a huge emotional toll on our farmers across the region and sometimes being able to talk to someone can make all the difference," he said.
"I'm proud the Federal Government is supporting our farmers and our regional communities through the NewAccess program because it's important everyone has the right tools to be able to offer support at this crucial time."