Charity moves into libraries to increase access

In a move to take the stigma out of seeking help for mental health issues, Lifeline has opened up free referral support in North Shore community services, including libraries.

Lifeline Connect is a face-to face, non-judgmental and inclusive service that allows people to access confidential support in a safe space. It also helps people facing long wait lists for counsellors and psychologists.

Lifeline’s Rachel Krippner said the charity looked at some of the common issues that people faced in accessing support and at the shame and stigma that can be associated with walking into a crisis centre.

“We know that not everyone can access support in terms of affordability either,” said Ms Krippner, who is community engagement manager for Lifeline Harbour to Hawkesbury Sydney. “We wanted to spread ourselves a bit wider and go out to these communities to make it more accessible for them.”

Ms Krippner stressed the importance of early intervention and getting to someone before they ended up in danger, or even hospitalised.

“We can have a brief intervention where we catch someone early,” Ms Krippner told North Shore Living. “We can get them ongoing support, which in the long run reduces that stress on the individual.”

Lifeline Connect’s weekly service is staffed by volunteers, called connectors who can help people make a phone call or complete an application form to get them to a place they need for further support. The service also provides a gateway to local services, not just Lifeline’s services.

“To date, we’ve referred people to over 40 different organisations,” Ms Krippner said. “It’s not about just referring them to clinical support. We take a holistic approach to what that individual really needs.

“To be able to pop up in locations where people need it is so critical to reducing the mental health stress that currently exists in the community,” Ms Krippner added.

The program is for children and adults and Lifeline Connect has had people aged eight to 98 come and access support. “We have a no wrong door policy,” Ms Krippner said.

Lifeline Connect operates at the Stanton Library in North Sydney (Tuesdays, 3pm to 7pm) and the Dougherty Centre in Chatswood (Fridays, 1pm to 5pm).

Appointments are not necessary, but bookings can be made on the Lifeline website.