Cairns Hospital's special space for those in crisis

Cairns Hospital's special space for those in crisis

Published Wednesday 19 October 2022

Crisis Support Space peer support workers.

Senior social work clinical Eleanor Gatto (left) with Mind Australia peer support worker Pedro Melendez (centre) and peer support worker Kia McDowall (right) at Cairns Hospital’s new Crisis Support Space.

A DEDICATED space within Cairns Hospital is helping people going through difficult times in their lives avoid the Emergency Department.

Since March this year, the Crisis Support Space - located on ground floor of the hospital’s A-Block – has been providing a safe, more suitable environment for people in crisis.

The walk-in service, which is staffed by a mental health clinician and two peer workers, aims to reduce the amount of people presenting to the ED and/or admitted to the hospital.

The peer-led service is a joint initiative between the Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service (CHHHS) and Mind Australia.

Senior social work clinician Eleanor Gatto said the service was for anyone over the age of 18, who was experiencing mental health distress. This included those harbouring suicidal thoughts, thoughts of self-harm, substance or alcohol use issues, and people who were feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope.

‘People can come and speak to all of us here in the Crisis Support Space, and know that we will listen, sympathise, empathise, offer support and advice,’ Ms Gatto said.

‘They can come as many times as they like.

‘You can bring along a friend. We’ve even had people come along with support animals.

‘Whoever comes in, we offer a cuppa, a comfy seat, and as much time as they like to talk and for us to listen.’

She said the space was also open to people who were already receiving support from the CHHHS Mental Health, Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs Service.

‘These could be people who are still struggling and need more intensive support with their recovery journey,’ she said.

‘They can attend our warm, inviting space to reduce their stress.

‘Our door is open to everyone.’

Ms Gatto, who has been working as a social work clinician for nearly 15 years, said having a separate space away from the ED was vitally important.

‘Since the space was open, we’ve had dozens of people come and talk to us, ultimately avoiding having to be seen in the ED.

‘We’ve been able to assist them overcome immediate distress in their lives.’

The Crisis Support Space, located on Cairns Hospital’s A-Block ground floor, is open from Thursday to Monday, 3 pm to 8 pm, including public holidays.

Last updated: October 2022