There have been reports of people struggling to access mental health services across the Fraser Coast.
There have been reports of people struggling to access mental health services across the Fraser Coast.

Silent pandemic sweeping through Fraser Coast

ANOTHER, silent pandemic has the Fraser Coast in its grasp.

As the effects of COVID-19 reach far and wide, stress and uncertainty take their toll on our mental wellbeing.

The Chronicle understand appointments with local psychologists and psychiatrists are hard to come by and doctors struggle to find available professionals to refer their patients to.

In the past year, referrals to the Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service mental health team have jumped by 27 per cent, a spokesman for the service said.

"The need for public mental health services in the Fraser Coast community has been increasing steadily for several years," he said.

"We expect the demand for mental health services to keep increasing - in the short term due to economic and employment pressures caused by COVID-19, but also in the longer term as a reflection of ongoing need."

The spokesman said mental health was a complex area, requiring collaboration with other organisations to ensure resident had access to the right care, at the right time, in the right place.

"We acknowledge there are sometimes gaps and difficulties with accessing care in the public, private and non-government sectors, but we remain committed to working with our partners across the region to provide the best possible care for our consumers," he said.

The spokesman said the health service was prepared to meet this future demand, with a number of new projects in the mix.

"To meet this demand, WBHHS has been planning for the future through investing in infrastructure and developing new models of care that will increase access and support for mental health consumers across the Fraser Coast," he said.

"Some examples of these include a new acute inpatient unit at Hervey Bay, whose construction is on track to start before the end of the year; the development of a subacute older people's unit in Maryborough; and the service is exploring the development of a 'safe space' separate from the emergency department for after-hours presentations. .

"We are also working with the Primary Health Network (PHN) to develop new referral pathways for care in the community."

If you need help or support, phone Lifeline on 13 11 14.