General News — 19 March 2013
Wagga mental health facility on the way

Depression in rural areas is a major talking point among social support groups and government departments.

According to the National Rural Health Alliance, prevalence of depression is just as high in major suburban centres but rural suicide rates are twice as prevalent.

Rural people face difficulty receiving treatment due to isolation and difficulty accessing health services.

A new mental health facility in Wagga Wagga aims to combat those statistics and ensure access to mental health services for rural residents.

Construction of the new mental health facility reached its first major milestone recently with a ‘topping out’ ceremony.

A significant step in the construction of the facility, the ‘topping out’ ceremony celebrates the laying of the final beam at the top of the building.

NSW Health Minister Kevin Humphries believes the new facility will provider a boost to mental health services in the Riverina.

“This purpose built mental health unit will provide people who need additional support with better access to services in their local community, close to their families, friends, workplaces and schools,” Mr Humphries said.

“It will also provide an increased range of mental health services for the Riverina community.”

The project is a joint-venture between the state and federal governments with each contributing $215 million and $55.1 million respectively as part of the Health and Hospitals Fund Program.

The ceremony recognised the first major milestone in the first of three construction phases.

Phase one will see the addition of 30 new beds and will replace the old mental health building (Gissing House) upon its expected completion in October.

The federal government will provide a further $12 million for the addition of a further 20 sub-acute mental health beds.

Up-to-date services will also be provided within the new building to keep up with modern advances in mental health and provide higher quality care.

Member for Wagga Wagga Daryl Maguire praised the state government’s initiative in providing regional health services.

“This impressive, state-of-the-art mental health facility is great news for the people of Wagga Wagga and the wider Riverina area,” Mr Maguire said.

“It also demonstrates the NSW government’s commitment to providing increased mental health services to people of NSW no matter where they live.”

Construction of phase two is expected to commence later this year.

As first appeared in Southern Weekly, 18 March 2013

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