Another year is coming to a close and what a year it has been for WayAhead. This issue of the Mind Reader will look back at just some of the highlights from the year and there have been many for us in 2018. We have had the biggest Mental Health Month yet; we have travelled around NSW, as well as interstate and overseas to meet consumers, carers, workplaces and sector peers face-to-face; we have continued to build on our presence and profile; and we have reached more people than ever before.
Late last month, we held our Annual General Meeting where many joined us to hear about our work, nominate as board members and hear from our partner across the border, Mental Illness Education ACT. It shows the level of interest that people have been taking in our work, the interest in being involved as members and board directors and the strength of the relationships we have been building over the course of this year and the many years preceding it.
There are so many who have supported WayAhead’s work and contributed to this year’s successes. Staff, volunteers and board members have worked with dedication and a commitment to innovation and continuous improvement of our work.
From all here at WayAhead, best wishes for the holidays and into the 2019.
It has been the busiest and most exciting Mental Health Month I can remember. The theme Share the Journey has been adapted to numerous messages and has been met with positive applause. The Launch, conducted over lunch, showcased the amazing work being done by 8 award winners plus the Commissioner’s Community Champion Award Winner. I encourage you to read their stories and share that journey.
For the first time in many years, WayAhead organised or partnered with others to hold various events throughout October and we each have our favourite event and experience. I was excited to see racing car driver, Cameron Hill, drive his Porsche along the tracks in Bathurst and on the Gold Coast with the Mental Health Month logo clearly visible on the side of his car. That is an audience we haven’t targeted before.
Another first was the sharing of the theme and Mental Health Month (rather than Week) with Victoria and the ACT. We are hopeful other States will follow the lead and join us for a month of celebration in the years ahead.
There are many people to thank for the success we enjoy. The NSW Ministry of Health and the Mental Health Commission of NSW for their continuing financial support and presence for the Month; the many community groups and individuals who, in some cases year after year, organise mental health and wellbeing events that are creative and engaging. Our Mental Health Matters Award sponsors ACON, Transcultural Mental Health and grant sponsors such as FACS are invaluable in keeping those activities going.
I want to thank the judges for the grants and the awards. They gave their time and expertise in the best spirits. Last but not least is the amazing team we have here at WayAhead. They work hard prior to the month, and this year in particular, they worked even harder supporting all our events throughout the year. Thank you all and I look forward to Mental Health Month 2019 when we Share the Journey once again.
Today’s National Apology to Victims and Survivors of Institutional Child Sexual Abuse by the Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been welcomed by WayAhead – Mental Health Association NSW. [Read more…]
Community champions recognised for outstanding contributions in the lead up to 2018 Mental Health Month
Community champions, workplace support programs and community groups who have come together to support each other will today receive accolades for their outstanding contributions at this year’s #MentalHealthMatters Awards. [Read more…]
This World Suicide Prevention Day, WayAhead recognises the distress being felt in many rural and regional areas of NSW due to the ongoing drought.
Earlier this year the NSW government declared 100% of the state drought affected. The declaration was welcomed but not surprising to farming communities across the state who have gone without rain for a substantial period. [Read more…]
Here we are again, a few months out from Mental Health Month. The team in the WayAhead office are busily putting the finishing touches onto this years’ campaign and associated events we are hosting throughout the month.
Of course, Mental Health Month kicks off with our launch on Thursday 27 September at the Shangri-La Hotel in the city. We hope to see as many of you there at the launch, where we will announce the winners of this year’s Mental Health Matters Awards. If you haven’t already you can buy your ticket to the launch on our Eventbrite page.
During Mental Health Month we are also hosting another Collective Purpose Speaker Series event, here at our offices in Woolloomooloo. This time the focus is contemporary perspectives on Cultural Diversity and Mental Health. We are lucky enough to have Maria Cassaniti, the Centre Manager for the Transcultural Mental Health Centre as our speaker. At WayAhead we understand and appreciate the role culture plays in how different communities think about and treat mental health and ill health. Also, from a service provider perspective we realise that working with culturally diverse communities through NSW is not a one size fits all approach, nor is it a tick the box exercise for WayAhead. We’d love to see you at the event on Tuesday 23 October at 5:30pm, tickets again can be purchased from our Eventbrite page.
If you are looking at what is happening during Mental Health Month in your local community, make sure you visit our events calendar.
I look forward to getting out into the community during Mental Health Month and meeting many of you during the month’s activities and events.
I have spent many years working in mental health and one of many things that stand out for me is the importance the workplace has in mental health and wellbeing. Over the last decade we have made considerable progress in understanding how the workplace can build personal resilience, promote and encourage wellbeing and effectively support employees who are going through hard times.
During my early years with WayAhead, one of the first help line calls I took was from an employer of a small building company who daily contracted casual labourers to work on his building sites. He phoned the help line because one of his casuals was obviously unwell (showing psychotic symptoms) and he wanted to help him but didn’t know what to do. He said the casual didn’t speak English, was a good worker and needed some help. He didn’t think he had any family in Australia who could help him. At that time, it was the first call from an employer I had received. Sadly, I was surprised any employer in a blue-collar industry would care enough to phone, but it also touched my heart and reminded me that people do care, people want to help and we can be a very compassionate community. I have never forgotten that call.
Over the last decade it is not unusual to hear from employers who want to help their staff when they need help. They want to do their best to provide a supportive and happy workplace and ensure they foster their employee’s wellbeing. Our WayAhead Workplaces program has become a vehicle for demonstrating good practice and showcases workplaces that take employee wellbeing very seriously. It is inspiring to hear what is happening in workplaces across Australia
I certainly don’t want to imply that all workplaces take the wellbeing of their employees seriously. We should celebrate the workplace successes and congratulate those who are doing the right thing while at the same time, point out to those who could do better, that by seriously adopting a workplace wellbeing policy there will be wins for all. Compassion and caring is addictive and the workplace is the perfect place to spread it around.
Enjoy reading the articles in this edition and if you are in a workplace that cares for your mental health and wellbeing, celebrate and spread the word.
I recently had the pleasure of attending the Communities in Control Conference organised annually by the NFP Our Community. I endeavour to go to the conference each year because it is an opportunity to be inspired by what others are doing, refresh and recharge my enthusiasm and to celebrate the immense value of community for our health and wellbeing. Each speaker and performer at the conference gave me something to contemplate at a personal level and a societal level. While we have moved forward we have stepped back in many aspects that make us a caring, compassionate and supportive society.
The Conference showcases some of the creative programs that are happening now. One that sticks in my mind is The Good Karma Network. The Network started in Melbourne and is now spreading to other parts of Australia. It provides members with the opportunity and permission to ask for help with challenges they are facing in their lives, workplace, family, or home. It works on the premise that when we open ourselves to the possibility of asking for help, we find that there are people with skills, knowledge, experience and resources which they are only too happy to share.
Another wonderful example of community coming together is a project that was set up in the town of Frome in Somerset in the UK. It is called the Compassionate Frome Project and was launched in 2013 by Helen Kingston, a GP living and working in Frome. She kept encountering patients who felt they were a cluster of symptoms rather than a human being who happened to have health problems. With the help of a National Health Service group and the town council, they employed “health connectors” to help people plan their care, and trained voluntary “community connectors” to help their patients find the support they needed. Sometimes this meant handling debt or housing problems, sometimes joining choirs, lunch clubs or exercise groups, writing workshops or men’s sheds. The point was to break a familiar cycle of misery.
Recently Australia has taken up the link between loneliness and ill health. For a long time, loneliness has been ignored as a serious contributor to mental and physical illness. WayAhead is part of a group called the Australian Coalition to End Loneliness. The group has started researching loneliness in Australia and is being led by Michelle Lim, from the Iverson Health Innovation Institute at the Swinburne University of Technology. If you would like to be part of the Coalition or would like to know more you can contact Michelle at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will keep you informed on the progress of this research. I will keep you informed on the progress of this research. Recently our Senior Manager Marge Jackson attended a national leadership roundtable event on how to help people who are chronically lonely. There is a great article in this edition of the magazine about Marge’s experience at the event.
Enjoy this edition of Mental Health Matters and if you would like us to contact you on any issued raised here or not raised here but you think is important, we would love to hear from you.
Have a great read,
WayAhead welcomes mental health budget initiatives but still calls for the Newstart allowance to be increased
WayAhead welcomes the federal government’s significant investment in key areas of mental health including suicide prevention, mental health in older Australians and long-term mental health research, says WayAhead Chief Executive Officer, Elizabeth Priestley. [Read more…]
Dear Mind Readers,
Welcome to the April edition of our MindReader publication. I am Acting CEO while our CEO Elizabeth Priestley is currently on a well-earned break.
In the last few weeks, we have continued supporting our community in various ways. I would like to mention just two of the ways we help influence and shape public policy through our advocacy efforts.
In mid-March, we participated in the NSW Electoral Commission’s Equal Access to Democracy Disability Reference Group meeting. The group works to ensure that everyone who is eligible to vote in NSW council and state elections is able to do so in a variety of ways that suit them. It is vitally important that people with a lived experience of mental illness are able to fully participate in the democratic process and we are thankful to the NSW Electoral Commission for inviting us to join the working group.
We know that many people with a lived experience are able to vote by attending a polling station on or before Election Day, but we also know for others this is not possible. Fortunately there are other ways people can cast their vote which does not rely on them lodging it in person. We have committed to working with the NSW Electoral Commission to help promote the variety of ways in which people can participate in the upcoming NSW State Election in March 2019.
We have also been invited to attend a national leadership roundtable event looking into the complex social and emerging public health issue of loneliness hosted by Swinburne University in Melbourne later this month. The roundtable event will identify shared challenges that we face in combatting loneliness and help shape a high-level strategy for addressing loneliness through policy, research and community outreach.
We have a role in contributing to this national dialogue as we already know that loneliness has a deep impact on a person’s mental health and wellness. We also know that it is a benefit to our mental health and wellbeing when we are all active participants in our community.
I hope you enjoy this edition of The Mind Reader as much as I did.
Marge Jackson Acting CEO WayAhead