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Mental Health Awareness Program

This Mental Health Awareness Program is developed in 3 phases. Phase 1 & 2 activities where undertaken by Lifeline Gippsland to address Deliverable 88 from the Hazelwood Mine Fire State Government Implementation Plan Inquiry Report 2015-16. This phase of the project targeted businesses, organisations and key community influencers to build capacity and capability in recognising, understanding and supporting mental health in the community.

Deliverable 86: Provide funding for the development of strategies to increase awareness and community understanding of mental health issues, and how and where to get help

Deliverable 88: Provide funding for the development and delivery of programs to increase awareness of mental health issues.

In August 2017 Lifeline commenced activities against deliverable 88. This ‘Phase 1’ activity included conversations with the community on mental health. Lifeline used a mascot Harold the Alpaca to engage the community in incidental conversations on mental health. These conversations were structured and all staff and volunteers participating were trained accordingly. Deliverables included community walk activities, attendance at community events, Bunnings and McDonald’s project specific events and targeted community group events (e.g. TAFE, Aged Care). These activities engaged high numbers of people in the community across over 24 formal activities.

The use of Harold was extremely successful in breaking down barriers and starting conversations. Events such as the Bunnings Father’s Day event had more than 170 participants over 2 hours. The project received multi-media attention and ad hoc engagement from the local Member of Parliament. It continues to receive many requests from the community to attend their events. This suggests that there is a significant community appetite for further work in this area.

Phase 2 of this work drew on the success of the phase 1 activity. It built on the existing work by offering more formal mental health awareness, literacy and skill development to the wider community. A community consultation group “Friends of Lifeline” was established. This group developed and delivered short training sessions aimed at improving mental health awareness, literacy and capability to support one another across the general community. These sessions are based around the R U OK mental health conversations and form a part of the Mind the Valley group of activities. This work is now transitioning into a self-sustaining community driven activity, which will be continued to be delivered to wider community cohorts.

Phase 3 aims to target businesses and organisations within the Latrobe Valley and provide targeted mental health conversations based on a Mental Wealth approach. The project will facilitate Latrobe Valley businesses to participate in activities aimed at increasing the mental wealth of their community by, in part, increasing their mental health literacy, capacity and capability in supporting mental health issues.

The return on investment for this effort will be:

  • Assistance with developing internal mental health programs that have been shown to improve absenteeism, retention and productivity of staff.
  • Increased visibility and promotion in the community.
  • Increase productivity and growth potential.
  • Further updates on Phase 3 of the Mental Health Awareness Program will be provided in future editions of this document.
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