Mental health is everyone's business
A group of leaders from ARLP Course 20 are sharing the message of mental health, and ways to support some of the most at-risk demographic throughout rural, regional and remote Australia.
We are part of the ARLP course 20 cohort. One of our group projects challenged us to apply holistic leadership principles to tackle an issue effecting rural and remote Australia. We chose mental health - an issue effecting at least 1 in 5 people across Australia.
We surveyed ARLF fellows to see what was important to them. Of a total of 177 respondents:
· 57% were male and 43% female;
· the age of respondents ranged from 26-65 years of age. 50% were 46-55yrs;
· all states and territories were represented, fairly proportionately to population distribution;
· 60% of respondents lived in rural areas, 34% in metropolitan and 6.4% remote locations; respondents were involved in a broad range of areas, including primary production, processing, industry bodies, government, health, and education.
· 70% of respondents had been closely involved with a person with mental illness in their lives;
· nearly 90% of respondents had at least “a little bit” of knowledge about depression and suicide in rural communities, and most could identify the signs, symptoms, and risk factors for depression.
Most respondents felt at least “fairly comfortable” about talking about mental health issues in general conversation, however they felt less comfortable about starting conversations with someone they were worried about.
More than 50% of people thought that opportunities to talk to someone about whether they were coping were only “occasional”, and the main barriers identified were concerns about not knowing how to have the conversations (what to say, how to say it, the right timing, etc). Most people rated their individual ability to influence the mental health of their communities as not very significant, yet less than 4% felt that improving the mental health of their communities was unimportant to them – in fact, 60% of respondents identified improving the mental health of their communities as “very important” to them. Specifically, 85% of respondents said it is of importance and interest to them to improve their own capacity around having conversations about mental health.
Mental health is such a huge area of interest, with so many existing, helpful resources. Rather than replicate or consolidate these resources, we decided to put our own spin on starting a conversation.
We invite you to watch the following YouTube clip to see how easily YOU can start a conversation in your own community, workplace or family. It may just save a life!