National Mental Health Week, incorporating World Mental Health Day, is celebrated every year in October to promote social and emotional wellbeing in the community. Mental Health Week seeks to raise awareness of mental illness and reduce the stigma and discrimination associated with mental illness.
The theme for Mental Health Week 2016 is “Learn and Grow Together”. Through this theme we are challenged to care for ourselves, our family and friends and our communities.
We know that mental illness affects many people. Around one in five people experience mental illness in any given year and up to half the population will experience mental illness at some time in their lives. These Australian statistics suggest that people in your family, your workplace or your friends may be experiencing mental illness. It may even be you. The impact of mental illness is far reaching and effects individuals and their families, carers, friends, work colleagues and communities.
This year at the National Rural Health Alliance, individuals acknowledged World Mental Health Day, making personal promises around taking care of their mental health and wellbeing. We produced a video of our promises which can be found here. As an organisation we will continue to advocate for improved mental health services in rural and remote Australia.
This week, a number of events to celebrate World Mental Health Week have been held in Canberra and across the country. The Alliance attended the launch event hosted by the Mental Health Community Coalition of the ACT focussing on the Research in e-Mental Health. Dr Bridianne O’Dea from the Black Dog Institute discussed the various interventions for depression and anxiety that use apps and social media. The tools that have been developed are innovative, easy to use and appealing to users. The Alliance is very keen to further explore e-Mental health particularly as a complementary addition to face to face services. However, issues with poor internet connectivity in some rural and remote areas may hamper the broader availability of such tools.
The Alliance was also very privileged to attend the launch by Rural and Remote Mental Health of new resources to support social and emotional wellbeing in rural and remote Australia. Resources have been developed targeting the mining and agriculture sectors as well as for indigenous communities. The resource packs complement training sessions which deliver culturally targeted effective prevention programs, raise awareness of mental illness educate people around help seeking behaviour.
People with mental illness can be among the most disadvantaged in society. Many in rural and remote Australia do not seek help. Even when they do there may be few services available. By making a personal promise we are taking a step to improve our own mental health and wellbeing as well as looking out for friends and family.
The Alliance has prepared a suite of resources relating to rural and remote mental health which may inspire you to advocate for further action in this area.
See the full suite of rural and remote mental health resources here.