Today, World Mental Health Day, the National Mental Health Commission (the Commission) is calling for an increased focus on the role of communities across the nation. This is critical to achieving the World Federation for Mental Health’s call to action today for mental health and suicide prevention to be a global priority.
Achieving this as a global priority requires commitment at an individual and a community level. Concerted effort at those levels will drive a shift to a global priority.
Connections2022, the Commission’s opportunity to visit a diverse range of communities over the last three months, has highlighted the importance of the role of communities in the mental health and well-being of their people. There is strong support across all communities for their role in embedding social connection to be recognised and resourced. Social connection is the bedrock for mental health, well-being and effective suicide prevention.
“To date we have engaged in 109 community conversations with over 1,500 individuals, as well as roundtable meetings with mental health, suicide prevention, community, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled organisations and local government representatives,” Commission CEO Ms Christine Morgan said.
“Fundamentally, it is our local communities who are most trusted and have the power to support our social and emotional needs, to respond to changing social and environmental conditions, and to respond to and support every person’s mental health and suicide prevention needs locally.
“What is needed, clearly, is for the system to factor in local communities. To recognise their ability to empower, support and resource the members of their community, and to support them to undertake this role in a meaningful, practical and impactful manner.”
Commission Chair, Professor Ngiare Brown said, the Commission has found that systemic issues across the nation, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, have left communities and individuals vulnerable and exposed, especially in relation to access to services as well as safe and reliable housing. In addition, issues with stigma and discrimination; critical workforce shortages across the hospital, primary care and the community workforce; and many serious and concerning experiences of trauma have been highlighted.
“In every community people and service providers raised concerns that Australians are unable to access affordable, timely, and culturally safe services in their community. Active outreach to community members is critical,” Prof. Brown said.
“Each community has different priorities and needs. Each community can work collaboratively with governments at all levels and service providers across the sector to identify and help meet the needs of their community members. This is how we make mental health and suicide prevention a priority - locally, nationally and globally.”
The Making Connections for Your Mental Health and Wellbeing program will conclude in November. Every person from any community across Australia has an opportunity to contribute to Connections2022 by participating in the National Connections2022 survey.
National FREE 24/7 Crisis Services: • Lifeline 13 11 14 www.lifeline.org.au • Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467 www.suicidecallbackservice.org.au • Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800 www.kidshelp.com.au • MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78 www.mensline.org.au • Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service 1800 512 348