Last month, the state government announced it was injecting $22 million to deliver “fast-tracked, tailored care” to those Victorians struggling with their mental health.

The plan was to open 20 mental-health pop-ups across metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria within existing community health providers. It was estimated around 90 dedicated clinicians would provide an additional 93,000 hours of counselling and wellbeing checks. And, prioritising accessibility, the services would be entirely free.

“We know the pandemic has increased immediate demand, so we’re investing to make sure more Victorians have access to the support they need right now,” minister for mental health, James Merlino, said in a statement. “These innovative local pop-up mental-health services will deliver the support people need, close to home.”

Now, as Melbourne officially becomes the world’s most locked-down city, eight pop-ups are already open, including at Star Health in St Kilda; Cohealth in Melton, Kensington and Sunshine; Each in Ringwood; Mentis Assist in Frankston; Uniting in Ballarat; and Mallee Family Care in Mildura.

A mix of in-person and telehealth appointments are available, as well as a limited number of walk-in sessions. The remaining 12 sites will be bookable in coming weeks.

Mental-health and wellbeing-support organisation Beyond Blue says demand for its services – by people experiencing anxiety, depression, and family and relationship issues – “remains between 20 to 30 per cent above pre-pandemic levels”.

Book a free appointment online by following the prompts to the pop-up services, or by calling 1300 375 330.