OUR Healthy Clarence is a multi-agency and community approach to support the mental health and wellbeing of the people of the Clarence Valley.
It is a partnership between organisations including Clarence Valley Council, Northern NSW Local Health District, North Coast Primary Health Network, Rural Adversity Mental Health Program (RAMHP), Lifeline, Aboriginal Medical Corporation, New School of Arts, CRANES, and other organisations and individuals.
Steering committee member Sam Obsorne, RAMHP, says Our Healthy Clarence is not “owned” by any one.
“It’s a great committee intent on promoting resilience in our community through focusing on wellbeing and mental health,” she said.
Bulgarr Ngaru Aboriginal Medical Corporation executive officer Darren Kershaw, Grafton, says the chance to unite health services and pull in the same direction under the Our Healthy Clarence banner was historic.
“It is an absolute must that we understand each other’s programs,” he said.
Our Healthy Clarence has developed a 2016-2018 Mental Health and Wellbeing Plan.
“The plan has a strong emphasis on raising awareness of the issues and where people can seek help, early intervention strategies, and improved support services for individuals and the community,” said federal Health Minister Greg Hunt.
Early intervention remains the key to reducing the impact and duration of mental illness, which affects one in four young Australians, aged 16 to 24, a year.
Grafton was named the first location in Australia to get one of 10 new Headspace youth mental health services, providing an increase in support available to young people and their families during times of need.
Headspace is well established throughout the country and takes a holistic approach to mental health support, taking into account young people’s physical health, alcohol and drug use and providing social and vocational support.
The North Coast Primary Health Network and GenHealth Inc are working closely to fit out the Headspace home in the Grafton Community Centre.
It will be run by GenHealth, providing youth mental health services for people aged 12 to 25 in Grafton and the Clarence Valley.
Aware of the pressing need for local youth mental health services, everything is being done to open Headspace as soon as possible. It is hoped it will be fully operating by November 2017.
The key objectives of the Our Healthy Clarence Mental Health and Wellbeing Plan are:
● Improve community engagement, early intervention and prevention.
● Improve community awareness of mental health and how to access information and services
● Improve the capacity of the workforce and community to respond to people at risk of suicide and mental ill health by providing training.
● Increase evidence-based mental health and wellbeing programs within schools.
● Improve access to evidence-based treatment, crisis care and coordinated care after a suicide attempt.
The NCPHN has provided funding to support the objectives.
“We believe change needs to happen at a local level, that’s why we’ve been so proud to be a part of the Our Healthy Clarence Steering Committee,” said NCPHN Mental Health and Drug and Alcohol director Megan Lawrance.
“We’ve worked with the community to understand their needs, and armed with this information, to make the best decisions about which services to fund.”
The federal government funded Headspace Grafton as part of the mental health reforms.
In addition, $500,000 of federal funding is being provided through NCPHN for suicide prevention initiatives across the North Coast.
NCPHN has also funded community support programs through CRANES to deliver standard, Aboriginal and youth mental health first aid training as well as community awareness sessions.
CRANES’ training will help develop a group of volunteers as community champions for the Clarence Valley. Their role will be to keep an eye and ear out as they go about their activities in the community, offer support, and help connect with someone who may be at risk. Then they can direct the person to the most appropriate professional help.
By 2018, CRANES aims to have 1040 people trained as community champions.
Another initiative is the new Pop-up Hubs in Grafton and Yamba, opened by the New School of Arts.
Our Healthy Clarence project co-ordinator Sue Hughes said: “These hubs will provide access to good quality health, wellbeing and service information, supported referral to local services and programs, safe community spaces to hold meetings, and support groups and community activities and events to enhance community connections.”
- While Headspace in Grafton is being set up, young people can visit www.headspace.com, or contact the telephone counselling and referral service on 1800 650 890.
New services for the Clarence Valley
● Headspace youth mental health service established in Grafton.
● $65,000 for improved access to psychiatry, including a child and adolescent psychiatrist and an increase in adult psychiatry services.
● $154,517 for suicide prevention training by CRANES, including mental health first aid and applied suicide intervention skills.
● $333,384 for Aboriginal mental health and suicide prevention training by CRANES across the North Coast.
● $90,000 for post-suicide support for families and communities.