Mental Health Minister Curtis Pitt today launched a new mental health and emotional wellbeing project for older Queenslanders.

Mr Pitt said the State Government would invest $573,583 in the Older Person’s Mental Health and Emotional Wellbeing (mhWISE) project.

“The project will deliver mental health awareness training to 800 Home and Community Care workers across Queensland,” he said.

“These workers do a great job providing services which enable thousands of Queenslanders to live independently in their own homes.

“With this extra training they will also be equipped to identify signs of mental ill health, such as depression, and social isolation.

“We need to develop the skills of our workers so that they can reach and support those who need it most.”

Mr Pitt also announced the extension of the Cairns Co-Responder Trial, a Queensland-first service which helps people with a mental illness involved in police call outs.

As part of the trial, a designated mental health clinician accompanies police on call-outs where someone is suspected of having a mental health issue.

The clinician makes an assessment of the person’s mental health needs on the spot.

“Since its inception, the Cairns Co-responder team has had over 300 interactions with 127 individuals,” Mr Pitt said.

“The feedback from carers and consumers to the trial has been extremely positive.

“They feel that crisis situations have been managed very professionally and with respect by the Co-Responder team.

“There has been a 13 per cent reduction in the frequency of consumers’ who before the trial had a high rate of contact with the police.

“This service is about providing an appropriate and timely response in a crisis situation involving a person with a mental health related issue.

“By extending the trial for an extra six months, we’ll be able to get a clearer picture of how successful the service is by having more data.”

Mr Pitt said today’s announcements come on top of a series of major State Government mental health initiatives announced during Mental Health Week (9-15 October).

“Earlier this week the Premier challenged Queenslanders to change their minds about mental illness and join her in pledging to end the stigma surrounding it,” Mr Pitt said.

“The Premier also announced the establishment of a new Queensland Mental Health Commission, which will provide more effective and coordinated services, ranging from acute care to community-based services.

“We have also launched a new community mental health plan which will improve access to high-quality, community-based care and support services for people with mental illness.

“We’re getting on with the job of creating a more inclusive and fairer Queensland.”