North East people are being trained by Wellways as 'coaches' to deliver free support for people feeling stressed and overwhelmed.
NewAccess is an early intervention coaching program designed by Beyond Blue.
The Victorian government has invested just over $1 million into making the program accessible in Mansfield, Alpine, Wangaratta, Indigo, Towong and Wodonga.
It is being delivered through Wellways and chief executive Laura Collister said coaches were already at the Wodonga office and out doing outreach.
"They're the sort of people that local community members feel very comfortable to talk to," she said.
"For a community like North East Victoria, where they've been devastated by bushfires and life in general, it's a really important community building intervention as well.
"We would love to see the Victorian government commit to funding more of these programs across the state."
Beyond Blue chief executive Georgie Harmon, who attended a launch in Beechworth with Ms Collister, said NewAccess was also in Gippsland.
"It was a model that was originally developed by Beyond Blue and we now work in partnership with amazing service providers like Wellways," she said.
"It's completely free, you don't need to doctor's referral - you can just pick up the phone, get assessed, and then you get six sessions of very evidence-based treatments by coaches.
"Coaches operate under clinical supervision and they're locals, they get the worlds that people are living in.
"We're already seeing seven in 10 people get better."
Ms Harmon said Beyond Blue had seen a 60 per cent increase in demand last year.
"We've never seen numbers like this, and there's a collective trauma," she said.
"We know the impacts of the pandemic will actually resonate for a long time - there'll be a long mental health tail to this."
IN OTHER NEWS:
Parliamentary Secretary for Mental Health Steve Dimopoulos attended the launch and also visited Wodonga TAFE to learn of new training resources for the Certificate IV in Mental Health Peer Work and the Certificate IV in Disability, which are both free courses.
In 2021, Wodonga TAFE has over 50 students enrolled in the Certificate IV in Mental Health Peer Work.