Latrobe Health Assembly is currently co-designing an innovative new community support service to help address loneliness and mental wellbeing. Community members are invited to contribute to the development of the new after-hours mental health support, with their input directly shaping the service’s design.
The concept is currently being called a mental health café, but the final name will be chosen by community members as they help to shape the project.
The ‘mental health cafe’ idea was initiated by members of the local Mental Health Forum, which brings together local and statewide providers, experts, and the community to focus on strategies and opportunities to enhance the mental health of the Latrobe Valley community.
The idea was identified as a way to provide a safe and welcoming space for people experiencing isolation or distress after hours, where they could access respite, peer support and advice.
Cafes in other locations have found that this kind of support can reduce emergency department presentations (for non-emergency mental health issues); increase opportunities for peer support and social connection; improve experiences of mental health support; and, ultimately, lead to better outcomes for community members.
To explore this idea further, the Assembly has engaged Larter Consulting to work with local community members and stakeholders to codesign a ‘café’ model to pilot in the Latrobe Valley.
The service will be the first of its kind in regional Victoria, and Latrobe Health Assembly Chair Tanya Rong is proud to be able to support such an important initiative.
“This is Latrobe Valley leading the way, innovating, and responding to community need.” Ms Rong said.
“The development of community ‘safe spaces’ is a key recommendation from the Royal Commission into Mental Health, so we are ahead of the curve in moving ahead with this.”
“Community members want to be involved in service design, so we are excited to provide this opportunity to contribute directly.”
Similar ‘cafes’ have been very successful in the UK for many years and a number of similar models are beginning to emerge around Australia. There is a strong body of evidence to support the concept’s potential, but designing a model with and for the Latrobe Valley community will ensure that the specific needs of our region are catered for.
During the design phase (June to August 2021), Larter is inviting people with lived experience of mental illness or psychological distress and their families and carers to share what they would like to see in this kind of community support service.
To learn more about this project, including how you can get involved or receive updates, please visit http://www.healthassembly.org.au/mental-health-cafe/ or Text MENTAL HEALTH CAFÉ to 0418 595 781.