Wimmera mental health groups call for investment



WIMMERA mental health bodies have called for more investment in services this Mental Health Awareness Week.

Healthy Minds Horsham’s Rob Walter said awareness campaigns were important to shine a light on mental health, but the government must also invest in finding new ways to better Australian mental health.

“The week focuses our attention on issues we would rather not think about during the rest of the year,” he said.

“Stigma is unhelpful but it is the symptom of a deeper cause.”

Mr Walter said the reality of mental illness, that 3027 people died by suicide in 2015, could be hard to face.

He said the government needed to invest more money in mindfulness and stress research.

“We need a completely different approach and way of thinking that encompasses both our mental and physical well-being,” he said.

The week comes as Wimmera Primary Care Partnership, a group of 29 agencies, works on the second stage of its Wimmera and Southern Mallee Mental Health Service Mapping Project. Project officer Jo Ritchie said investment was needed to support rural services.

“Sometimes funding may go to a service but not take into account things like distance, accessibility or look at how the service could best support the rural environment,” she said.

Ms Ritchie said the project would determine how service providers could work together to strengthen pathways to good mental health. She said the project came from concerns that residents did not know where to go to get the help they needed. Ms Ritchie said Mental Health Awareness Week was an important part of reducing the stigma of mental illness. “Anything to raise awareness is fantastic,” she said. “I’ve certainly seen changes in community awareness and willingness to learn more about mental illness in the past 10 years. 

“It helps the understanding it’s part of life, some people have tough times it’s about how you support people through and before.”

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