The communities of Walcha, Tenterfield, Glen Innes, Armidale and Inverell now have access to a free, dedicated counselling service designed to help those affected by the 2019/2020 bushfires.
"The devastation of the bushfires has resulted in some community members experiencing feelings of fear, anxiety, sadness or nervousness about their experiences and the summer ahead," said Kimberley Squires, Community Engagement Coordinator, Lifeline Direct.
"These feelings are a normal response to frightening circumstances. Often talking to someone trained in counselling can help reduce anxiety and stress and help to balance out the worry.
"It has been a particularly difficult year for many. Multiple stressors such as the bushfires, drought and COVID have brought unprecedented pressures on families and individuals in the New England region."
Ms Squires said many community members saw the fires firsthand while working to save their properties and ensuring their families were safe.
"Some community members lost their homes and saw the devastation to livestock and bushland," she said.
"These experiences have brought financial pressures, family stress and trauma that are often very difficult to manage alone.
"We are now entering another bushfire season which can be a trigger for some affected by the past bushfires, cumulative trauma is very much a concern for these communities.
"Face to face counselling is now available for bookings without the need to travel to major centres.
"It is fully funded (paid for by the Primary Health Network) and available to anyone in our communities experiencing stress, anxiety or sadness following the bushfires."
The local counselling program will be available in counselling rooms in Walcha, Tenterfield, Armidale, Glen Innes and Inverell.
"Lifeline New England North West is encouraging anyone feeling worried, sad or anxious to contact our team to talk about ways to manage these feelings and get back to enjoying life," Ms Squires said.
"No referral is required for this service.
"We all experience times in our lives where we need help talking through difficult experiences.
We are encouraging anyone - to use this service to talk about their worries or concerns."
Counselling will begin on the 26 November 2020 and bookings are available now by calling 1300 152 854.
For 24/7 crisis or suicide prevention support, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14
Online crisis support chat is also available 7pm - midnight (AEST) 7 days a week: www.lifeline.org.au/crisischat