1 in 5 Australians will experience a mental health problem in any given year.
That means that every person is likely to know someone who is experiencing a mental health problem, whether that is a family member, a friend or colleague.
Family, friends, and community members may be the only ones to know that a person is distressed. Everyday Australians want to help people they care about; however, they do not always have the confidence or skills to do so and there is a fear of getting it wrong or making it worse.
Mental Health First aid
For more than 21 years Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) evidence-based training courses have equipped people with the practical skills, knowledge, and confidence to listen, connect and support someone experiencing mental distress.
MHFA has several courses, including Standard MHFA (adults helping adults), Youth MHFA (adults helping youth), as well MHFA Conversations around Suicide and MHFA conversations around Non-Suicidal Self Injury (NSSI) (commonly known as self-harm)
In Deniliquin, the Deniliquin Mental Health Awareness Group (Deni MHAG) and Channel4Change, together with many organisations and businesses, has actively sought funding and supported initiatives to provide MHFA training opportunities for individuals and workplaces in our community.
The first Standard MHFA course, a course for adults to support adults, was delivered in Deniliquin in 2005. The first Youth MHFA course, adults providing interventions to youth, was first delivered in Deniliquin in 2008.
In the past 17 years, a total of 85 MHFA Courses have been delivered in Deniliquin and surrounding communities. This includes 10 short courses, with a focus on Conversations about Suicide and NSSI. A total of 1051 adults in and around Deniliquin have been trained to provide interventions that recognise signs and symptoms of mental health conditions, and those at risk of self-harm or suicide. Importantly these participants now have the skills to have a conversation that may save a life.
Many organisations in Deniliquin have made it a priority to deliver MHFA to their staff, not only to support staff, but to up-skill them to be able to have mental health conversations with their work colleagues, their clients and family and friends.
"Mental health, mental illness and suicide really is everyone’s business. Increasing knowledge, upskilling community to help those around them and making sure people know where and how to seek help is important. The work in this space, never stops and there is always more to do." - Lourene Liebenberg, a facilitator of MHFA courses
To find out about attending an upcoming MHFA courses in Deniliquin visit our training page.
You can also do a free online 1-hour Suicide Prevention Training course called QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer). Visit mphn.org.au/qpr to register.
Raising awareness about mental health and suicide
Suicide is a significant public health issue in Australia. Sadly, in 2021, 3144 Australians died by suicide and one can never underestimate the impact that every life lost to suicide has on family, friends, workplaces, and the broader community.
“Our community has been and continue to be impacted by suicide. As members of Deni MHAG, we would like to acknowledge the people whose lives have been lost to suicide, to those who have considered ending their own life and to those bereaved by suicide.” - Lyn Bond, chair of Deni MHAG
Circumstances relating to suicide are complex and multifaceted and a combination of multiple factors contribute to a person taking their own life rather than a single reason.
Research shows that mental and behavioural disorders were present in over 60% of deaths of people who died by suicide.
From 2017 to 2021, around two-thirds of all deaths by suicide had at least one or more psychosocial risk factor identified. These include factors such as recent or past adverse life events, loss of significant others, family discord and lack of social supports.
Another significant risk factor is stigma, as well as the lack of help-seeking behaviours or knowing where to seek help. Many people who take their own life are not under the care of specialist mental health services and have not had recent contact with their GP.
“Raising awareness about mental health and suicide is not just making people aware that it is a problem, but effectively and actively implementing strategies to identify people at risk, and to increase help-seeking behaviours” - Lyn Bond, chair of Deni MHAG
Local Community Response to Suicide
The Murrumbidgee Local Response Group (LRG) comprises 5 organisations dedicated to supporting communities like Deniliquin in times of need. The LRG convenes to respond to the needs of the community after a suicide or critical incident has occurred. Members of the LRG include Murrumbidgee Primary Health Network, Murrumbidgee Local Health District, NSW Ambulance, NSW Police and Wellways Murrumbidgee.
Wellways provide the After Suicide Support program. This program supports families, friends, workplaces and communities following a death by suicide. This might be material aid, emotional support, written resources and referrals to relevant support services.
Wellways also deliver the Way Back Support Service for individuals and their families following a suicide attempt. For more information about these services visit wellways.org or call 1300 111 400.
Help Anywhere, Any Time
Increasing suicide prevention literacy in communities is an important cog in the bigger wheel of tackling suicide as a national health problem.
Awareness and education campaigns focus on encouraging safe, open dialogue about mental health and wellbeing, and increase confidence to seek help and to help others.
These campaigns also strengthen connections at individual and community levels and empower organisations to support the positive mental health of their workforce or members.
We know increased literacy and understanding of mental health problems, and suicide, decreases stigma and increases help-seeking. Our current campaign “Help Anywhere, Any Time” is aimed at increasing knowledge and literacy about specific mental health problems. Many of us may need some additional supports to cope with stressors in our life at some stage, and knowing where and how to look for help is important.
We can all be mental health allies and help reduce stigma by sharing the campaign messages across our social media, in our organisations, sporting clubs, or community meeting places. Resources are freely available at denimentalhealth.org.au/resources