CatholicCare Wollongong has announced the commencement of the Bushfire Recovery Counselling Support Program and the appointment of a local recovery counsellor to assist people who have been affected by recent bushfires.
The appointment comes at a critical time for people who are recovering from the bushfires.
"Research informs us that six months after a natural disaster, there is an increased risk of serious mental health challenges, including a heightened risk of suicide", said Director Michael Austin.
"These people may be experiencing a wide range of feelings, from anger, anxiety and depression to guilt and grief."
Mr Austin said that when a natural disaster occurs, there is often a delay in help-seeking as people are often trying to re-establish their property and practical components of their everyday life. These people may see others moving forward, yet they may continue to experience feelings of grief and distress, which can become invasive and unmanageable. This is the often the point where people should reach out and seek support.
With the assistance of federal Government funding, CatholicCare can provide tailored services to meet the needs of any individuals who are recovering from the bushfires.
"This program aims to take a prevention/early intervention approach to supporting the wellbeing of vulnerable people in our community", said local MP Fiona Phillips.
"Our community has been through so much this year, with drought, bushfires, flood and now COVID-19, and I know that so many people are still struggling to deal with what has happened. We need local mental health services now more than ever and I am pleased to see programs like this being delivered", she said.
Bushfire Recovery Counselling Support (CatholicCare Wollongong)