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,