DEDICATED mental health advocates and clinicians gathered at Sydney Royal Show for the third annual Rural Suicide Prevention Forum.
The University of Newcastle's Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health (CRRMH) facilitated the forum to focus on community well-being collaboratives and the need for a co-ordinated approach.
The event aimed to build on the work from the previous two years' forums at the show, including the subsequent development of the CRRMH's position paper on "Rural Suicide and its Prevention".
The forum titled "Taking a collaborative approach to community well-being" reflected on focus area five as outlined in the centre's position paper: Build healthy and resilient people and communities.
Key stakeholders from across NSW discussed how rural and remote communities can better collaborate to improve their mental wellbeing, thereby reducing the incidence of suicide.
Centre director Professor David Perkins said the CRRMH had been working closely with many organisations including Our Healthy Clarence (Grafton), the University of Newcastle's Family Action Centre (Muswellbrook) and the Lithgow Mayor's Mental Health Taskforce.
"This forum provides a timely opportunity for these groups to come together and share their knowledge and learnings and to hear from other stakeholders," Professor Perkins said.
Director of workforce, Northern NSW Local Health District Dr Richard Buss said community wellbeing initiatives were a great opportunity to bring together a wide sector of services to work on collaborative approaches with communities.
"We need the commitment of the whole of community to work together to find sustainable solutions as services and the community working together is the most effective way to establish a healthy mental health approach to suicide prevention," he said.
The 2019 Rural Suicide Prevention Forum was the third rural suicide prevention forum organised by the CRRMH in as many years at the Royal Easter Show.
The first was held in 2017 with the theme: Working together to prevent suicide in rural communities; and the second in 2018: A coalition for action.
All forums focus on the fact that in every state in Australia, the rate of suicide among those who live outside the great capital cities is higher than that for residents that live within them.
Centre patron NSW Governor David Hurley and wife Linda attended the forum as well as the NSW Mental Health Commissioner Catherine Lourey and RAS president Robert Ryan.
"Having the contribution of these key people as well as representatives from across the sector demonstrates a strong commitment to community wellbeing initiatives and reducing rural suicide rates," Professor Perkins said.
The suggestions made in regard to community wellbeing initiatives will help the CRRMH collect qualitative data to inform the development of community wellbeing collaborative models. It will also help the CRRMH develop an appropriate package of resources for communities.
- If you or someone else is in immediate danger, call 000. If you're concerned about your own or someone else's mental health, call the NSW Mental Health Line on 1800 011 511 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.