NACCHO Aboriginal #MentalHealth : Minister @KenWyattMP and @NRL roll out the Indigenous All Stars #StateofMind mental health program @DeadlyChoices

” Mental health is about being able to work and study to your full potential, cope with day-to-day life stresses, be involved in your community, and live your life in a free and satisfying way. A person who has good mental health has good emotional and social wellbeing and the capacity to cope with change and challenges.

Feeling down, tense, angry, anxious or moody are all normal emotions for people, but when these feelings persist for long periods of time, or if they begin to interfere with their daily life, they may be part of a mental health problem.

Mental health problems can affect your feelings, thoughts and actions, and can affect your ability to function in their everyday activities, whether at school, at work, or in relationships.

If you feel you know a person whose mental health is getting in the way of their daily life, it is important to let them know you are there to support them.

Most parents can tell when something is out of the ordinary, but there are also signs that suggest a young person might be experiencing a mental health problem. “

See Part 2 Below for More INFO and Support HELP Links

Read over 200 Aboriginal Mental Health articles published by NACCHO over past 7 years 

 ” The Federal Government is investing $660,000 over three years into the National Rugby League’s (NRL) Indigenous All Stars, State of Mind program.

The initiative will deliver mental health and resilience workshops to over 500 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, including Indigenous All Stars players, youth summit participants and 15 grassroots clubs with a high proportion of First Nations players.

Elite players will be developed as mental health advocacy leaders within their clubs and communities, encouraging help-seeking behaviours. ”

Minister Ken Wyatt Press Release

With rugby league the most popular participation sport in First Nations communities, the NRL will leverage the game’s reach, profile, clubs and players, to help remove the stigma around mental illness.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience high, or very high, psychological distress, at a rate 2.6 times higher than the rest of the nation.

The NRL developed State of Mind in partnership with Lifeline, Kids Helpline, headspace and the Black Dog Institute.

State of Mind was promoted during the Indigenous All Stars game on Friday 15 February 2019 in Melbourne.

All Star Womens Team

The Deadly Choices and the VAHS ACCHO team set up outside of AAMI Park for the Indigenous All-Stars and visited the Fitzroy clinic

Mental health tools and resources, along with information about the program, is available on the NRL State of Mind website.

Our Government funds a number digital mental health and suicide prevention services, which support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, including:

    • $34 million from 2017-19 for BeyondBlue, to provide information, resources and services on their website that support social and emotional wellbeing
    • $16.9 million from 2018-21 for MindSpot, for their free, national online clinic for the treatment of anxiety and depression
    • $6.4 million per year for headspace for their eheadspace program, which provides free, confidential and anonymous telephone and web-based support for young people aged 12 to 25 years with, or at risk of developing, mild to moderate mental illness.

If you need help now

If you are in an emergency situation or need immediate assistance, contact mental health services or emergency services on 000.

If you need to speak to someone urgently, call Lifeline on 13 11 14or the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.

Or contact one of our 302 ACCHO Clinics

Part 2 State of Mind 

Signs and Symptoms

It can be helpful to talk to someone about what’s going on in your life if you have noticed a change in how you are feeling and thinking. This might include:

  • Feeling things have changed or aren’t quite right
  • Changes in the way that you carry out your day-to-day life
  • Not enjoying, or not wanting to be involved in things that you would normally enjoy
  • Changes in appetite or sleeping patterns
  • Being easily irritated or having problems with friends and family for no reason
  • Finding your performance at school, TAFE, university or work is not as good as it used to be
  • Being involved in risky behavior that you would usually avoid, like taking drugs or drinking too much alcohol, or depending on these substances to feel “normal”
  • Feeling sad or ‘down’ or crying for no apparent reason
  • Having trouble concentrating or remembering things
  • Having negative, distressing, bizarre or unusual thoughts
  • Feeling unusually stressed or worried.

Metal health risk factors

A number of overlapping factors may increase your risk of developing a mental health problem. These can include:

  • Early life experiences: abuse, neglect, or the loss of someone close to you
  • Individual factors: level of self-esteem, coping skills and thinking styles
  • Current circumstances: stress at school or work, money problems, difficult personal relationship, or problems within your family
  • Biological factors: family history of mental health problems

Looking after your mental health

here are a number of things you can do to look after and maintain your mental health and wellbeing. For example, many people cope with stress by getting involved with sports, exercising, meditating, or practising yoga or relaxation techniques. Others express themselves through art, such as poetry, writing or music. What you eat might also affect your mood – a well-balanced diet will help keep you both physically and mentally healthy.

If you are concerned about your own or a friend’s mental health and wellbeing, headspace is a great place to go for help. Getting support can help you keep on track at school, study or work, and in your personal and family relationships. The sooner you get help the sooner things can begin to improve for you.

The link between good mental health and exercise

Physical exercise is good for our mental health and for our brains. Exercise seems to have an effect on certain chemicals (dopamine and serotonin) in the brain. Brain cells use these chemicals to communicate with each other, so they affect your mood and thinking. Exercise can also stimulate other chemicals in the brain (brain derived neurotrophic factors) which help new brain cells to grow and develop. Exercise also seems to reduce harmful changes in the brain caused by stress.

Any exercise is better than none. A moderate level of exercise seems to work best. This is roughly equivalent to walking fast, but being able to talk to someone at the same time. It’s recommended that if you’re aged 12-18 you need 60 minutes, or if you’re over 18 you need 30 minutes, of moderate physical exercise on most, but preferably all days. This can be done in one 30 minute session or broken up into shorter 10 or 15 minute sessions.

When you’re feeling down the last thing you might feel like doing is working out, but studies have suggested that any activity, from walking around the block to yoga to biking could contribute to improving the symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Visit www.headspace.org.au for more information on all of the above topics.

NACCHO Mental Health Week : Time for a new deal on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health

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“The National Mental Health Commission Review into mental health, released in April, called for Indigenous mental health to be made a national priority with a new ‘Closing the Gap’ mental health target and yet nearly four months later there doesn’t appear to be any progress,

“We also urgently need for our mental health and alcohol and other drugs services to be under the auspices of the Federal Department of Health rather than being separated into the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet where it currently is.

This illogical separation makes coordination of health services more difficult; it is an entirely avoidable obstacle to success and the new Turnbull Government must reverse it,”

QAIHC CEO (and NACCHO Chair) , Matt Cooke, said that there were immediate steps that Governments should take to improve the effectiveness of mental health services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island peoples (see QAIHC full press release below )

The healing potential of wild landscapes is being used to counter the devastating impact of the history of colonisation on Indigenous mental health in the Kimberley.

FROM THE ABC Kimberley

It may look like a simple fishing trip in the vast landscape around west Kimberley’s Fitzroy River.

But the four-wheel-drive trailing a plume of dust across the seemingly endless mudflat is at the forefront of a progressive mental health initiative running out of the small town of Derby.

For four years, Aboriginal mental health worker James Howard has tackled some of Australia’s worst mental health statistics by going bush and building relationships with other Indigenous men.

“Just with my men I’ve been taking out, I’ve seen them get a bit of confidence in talking with other people,” he said.

Each week the Derby men’s mental health group goes bush for the day, cleaning up popular fishing destinations, wetting a line and enjoying the therapeutic benefits of the country.

Mr Howard leads the group with gentle, unassuming wisdom and a legendary ability with a throw-net and fishing line.

While he loves the celebrations that follow the catching of metre-long barramundi, Mr Howard prizes the impact the group has had on its members above all else.

In particular he remembers a member of the group who taught him what was really happening when they went bush.

“I think it’s the ultimate success the group can have, is after three months he told me, ‘I won’t be able to come out next week because I’m doing a computer course at TAFE’,” Mr Howard recalled.

“Ever since then I’ve seen it as not just taking them fishing, I’ve seen it as something that could be greater, and could give them a kick-start.”

But just having Indigenous men join the group is a big step in providing support.

“Another benefit is even coming into the mental health office; they’ve got that connection there,” Mr Howard said.

“I’m probably not seen as a mental health nurse or a caseworker, I’m seen as James.”

Culture and colonisation in Indigenous mental health

It’s exactly what has been missing from mental health services for Indigenous people, according to psychologist and national mental health commissioner, Professor Pat Dudgeon.

Professor Pat Dudgeon

“Often Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are presenting at emergency departments with severe mental health problems, rather than engaging in services early and getting treatment in a preventative way,” she said.

Dr Dudgeon said mental health services had failed to reach many Indigenous people because they had not been culturally appropriate or locally controlled.

“No matter where the Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander group are, there is cultural difference,” she said.

“A lot of people forget about that and they think that the same method, or program, or treatment can be used for mainstream and then for Indigenous groups.”

As well as cultural differences, Dr Dudgeon said understanding the pervasive role of history was essential to improving Indigenous mental health.

“There has been a dreadful history of colonisation. People have been removed from location, they’ve had their culture denigrated, children have been stolen off families,” she said.

Although Australia’s colonisation was historical, Dr Dudgeon said it was an overarching force in contemporary Indigenous mental health.

“We’ve got all the statistics on that about poverty, lack of employment, education, etcetera etcetera; they’re still those consequences of colonisation,” she said.

The therapeutic benefits of country

Chris is one of the Derby men’s mental health group’s success stories.

When he first joined the bush trips, he was struggling to cope with severe schizophrenia, exacerbated by alcohol abuse.

“I was really bad. I had to spend a couple of times in a mental institution,” he said.

Over three-and-a-half years, the combination of the bond he formed with Mr Howard and the healing influence of the wild landscapes have transformed Chris.

“You think real hard, and when you think too hard you get paranoid. So coming out here with James, that takes that all away,” he said.

“It helps you to relax, like switch your mind off, and all you’ve got to do is have patience now and wait for the barra to bite.”

Over time, Chris has learnt how to transfer the peace of mind found in the bush to other parts of his life.

“When you go home, it’s back there, but you reflect on the day that you had and things are sweet,” he said.

It’s an experience that has given Chris some power over his mental illness, and optimism for his future.

“I suffer from schizophrenia, but I don’t let that word get to me,” he said.

“It’s still with me, but I’m slowly getting out of it.”

QAIHC Press Release

Time for a new deal on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health

Queensland’s Aboriginal and Islander community-controlled health organisations have called for greater coordination in the funding and delivery of mental health services.

At the start of Mental Health Week, the sector’s peak body, QAIHC, said today that the particular and unique circumstances faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples required a unique approach to improving mental illness.

QAIHC CEO, Matt Cooke, said that there were immediate steps that Governments should take to improve the effectiveness of mental health services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island peoples.

“The National Mental Health Commission Review into mental health, released in April, called for Indigenous mental health to be made a national priority with a new ‘Closing the Gap’ mental health target and yet nearly four months later there doesn’t appear to be any progress,” said Mr Cooke.

“We also urgently need for our mental health and alcohol and other drugs services to be under the auspices of the Federal Department of Health rather than being separated into the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet where it currently is.

“This illogical separation makes coordination of health services more difficult; it is an entirely avoidable obstacle to success and the new Turnbull Government must reverse it,” Mr Cooke said.

“The continuing high rates of self-harm, suicide, incarceration and substance misuse among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are indicators that much more needs to be done and we just don’t have the luxury of time; changes are needed right now.”

Mr Cooke also called for greater investment into workforce training to create a new cohort of Aboriginal and Islander mental health workers and counsellors.

“Much more work is needed to open pathways to university degrees in psychology and psychiatry for Aboriginal and Islander people.

“There are currently only about 80 Indigenous psychologists in the country and we need about six hundred if want to achieve parity with the population. We need trained mental health workers in every one of Queensland’s 24 community-controlled health services to begin tackling the heartache of suicide and self-harm in particular,” he said.

Mr Cooke said that there are many examples of extremely successful community-based Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health initiatives in drug rehabilitation, suicide prevention and other mental health related challenges.

“Initiatives such as the QAIHC ‘Lighting the Dark’ Suicide Prevention Program which was delivered across 10 communities in Queensland have been well received by community as an effective means of addressing suicide.

“QAIHC is partnering with St Johns to roll out Aboriginal Mental Health First Aid across our community controlled health services; increasing individual awareness of the risk factors and providing them with skills in working with individuals who are experiencing social, emotional wellbeing, mental illness or suicidal ideation. These initiatives will save lives,” said Mr Cooke.

He also referred to the National Empowerment Project currently underway in Kuranda and Cherbourg as another example of a holistic approach using culture and spirituality to empower local people and reduce the terrible burden of mental illness.

“What we truly need from Governments is a better directing of funding and a sensible approach to removing obstacles that stand in the way of community-based solutions,” he concluded.

“We have the will, the intellect and the determination to address the mental health issues in our communities; what are missing are suitable resources and a trained expert Aboriginal workforce to implement innovative programs which empower our people.

“These are the responsibilities of Governments and we remain hopeful they will take up the challenge to support us.”

NACCHO SEWB News: NACCHO CEO appointed to new Aboriginal Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Advisory Group

Lisa Final

Pictured above NACCHO CEO Ms Lisa Briggs appointed to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Advisory Group.

Please note: Official Goverment release is included below

NACCHO as a member The Close the Gap Campaign today welcomed a significant mental health milestone:  the establishment of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Advisory Group.

The new ministerial advisory body, co-chaired by Dr Tom Calma AO and Professor Pat Dudgeon, is the first of its kind in Australia.

The other members of the new Group are (alphabetically): Mr Tom Brideson, Ms Lisa Briggs, Mr Ashley Couzens, Ms Adele Cox, Ms Katherine Hams, Ms Victoria Hovane, Professor Ernest Hunter, Mr Rod Little, Associate Professor Peter O’Mara, Mr Charles Passi, Ms Valda Shannon and Dr Marshall Watson.

It will provide expert advice to government on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social and emotional wellbeing, mental health and suicide prevention.

Close the Gap co-chair and Social Justice Commissioner, Mick Gooda, said the group will help drive reform in mental health and suicide prevention for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“Improving mental health and suicide prevention is fundamental to improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health overall, and to closing the health and life expectancy gap with other Australians,” Mr Gooda said.

Mr Gooda said the advisory body would help ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people benefit from national mental health reforms and the significant investment in mental health in recent years.

He said the advisory body would also improve strategic responses to suicide and mental health by enabling partnerships between government and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander experts in social and emotional wellbeing, mental health and suicide prevention.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are experiencing mental health problems at almost double the rate of other Australians.

“Addressing difficult and entrenched challenges like this mental health gap requires long term and sustained commitment and a truly bipartisan approach.

“It is particularly important as we move into a Federal election that closing the gap remains a national project that is supported and sustained beyond electoral cycles,” Mr Gooda said.

 Commonwealth Coat of Arms

THE HON MARK BUTLER MP ,THE HON WARREN SNOWDON MP, JOINT MEDIA RELEASE

NEW HIGH-LEVEL GROUP ADVISE ON TACKLING INDIGENOUS SUICIDE

A new expert group has been set up to advise the Federal Government on improving mental health and suicide prevention programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Advisory Group will be chaired by two eminent Aboriginal experts in the field, Prof Pat Dudgeon, recognised as Australia’s first Indigenous psychologist, and human rights campaigner Dr Tom Calma AO, the new chancellor of the University of Canberra.

The new Group will advise on practical and strategic ways to improve Indigenous mental health and social and emotional wellbeing.

The Group met for the first time in Canberra today to discuss its priorities, including implementation of the recently released National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy.

Also on the agenda for the inaugural meeting are the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan and the renewed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social and Emotional Wellbeing Framework.

Professor Dudgeon is from the Bardi people of the Kimberley and is known for her passionate work in psychology and Indigenous issues, including her leadership in higher education.  Currently she is a research fellow and an associate professor at the University of Western Australia.

Dr Calma is an elder of the Kungarakan tribal group and a member of the Iwaidja tribal group in the Northern Territory. He was appointed National Coordinator of Tackling Indigenous Smoking three years ago.

Previously, he was Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission from 2004 to 2010 and served as Race Discrimination Commissioner from 2004 until 2009.

The other members of the new Group are (alphabetically): Mr Tom Brideson, Ms Lisa Briggs, Mr Ashley Couzens, Ms Adele Cox, Ms Katherine Hams, Ms Victoria Hovane, Professor Ernest Hunter, Mr Rod Little, Associate Professor Peter O’Mara, Mr Charles Passi, Ms Valda Shannon and Dr Marshall Watson.

The Federal Labor Government’s commitment to reducing high levels of suicide within Indigenous communities was highlighted by its development and recent release of Australia’s first National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy.

The Strategy is supported by $17.8 million over four years in new funding to reduce the incidence of suicidal and self-harming behaviour among Indigenous people.

This builds on the Labor Government’s broad strategic investment in suicide prevention, as outlined in the Taking Action to Tackle Suicide package and the National Suicide Prevention Program which, together, include $304.2 million in vital programs and services across Australia.

Funding already allocated to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander programs under these two national suicide programs, includes:

  • $4.6 million for community-led suicide prevention initiatives.
  • $150,000 for enhanced psychological services for Indigenous communities in the Kimberley Region, through the Access to Allied Psychological Services program.
  • $6 million for targeted suicide prevention interventions.

Media contact: Tim O’Halloran (Butler) – 0409 059 617/Marcus Butler (Snowdon) – 0417 917 796