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In a recent blog post I discussed how I became involved and passionate in a cross-sector, community approach to mental health.

But WHY do we need this? Why should we consider looking at improvement for mental health outcomes across society rather than just within the Health system, Education system, workplaces etc.

Educators often engage in strategies including prevention, support, intervention, etc in order to improve student mental health. However, while educators regularly implement incredible strategies at a school level, they often get stuck on aspects such as:

# engagement from parents and families

# lack of support services within a local area

# making change happen with issues that exist beyond the school walls that are having an effect ona students mental health such as within sporting clubs, social media issues, societal issues, etc.

We live in such a busy world these days and mental health has become such a significant issue for many people of all ages. When we consider what affects our mental health and what in turn is affected by our mental health all aspects of our life have a role to play. This diagram below shows a small snapshot of what I have just mentioned.

We need to start intentionally collaborating in order to start addressing ongoing problems and in order to create common sense, sustainable solutions. Within workplaces, local groups, small businesses we all address mental health and wellbeing in some way, whether it be through a preventative role, a supportive role or perhaps a role of intervention. It makes sense that we should work together in order to create effective solutions to the ongoing issues of suicide, lack of support services, etc. The challenge is to utilise an effective process to guide this collaboration so that it becomes a planned approach rather than an incidental one.

Some specific key benefits for adopting a community approach to mental health include:

1. Consideration of all areas essential to mental health improvement

This includes aspects such as awareness, education, gaps in support pathways, current services available in the local area, opportunities for belonging and connection

2. The opportunity to develop a connected community and sense of belonging

This is a ley component for positive mental health and is an essential element that everyone needs. It is important to recognise that this does not look the same for everyone and can come in many different shapes and forms.

3. The opportunity to identify and support target groups within the local area

This is a key area for making change happen but it is important to collect real data about what is going on within the community rather than assuming you already know it all

4. The opportunity to work together to source funding to support key initiatives

Funding is often a great deal more successful when assocations work together and have created plans supported by localised groups that outline goals, targets and initiatives

5. Adopting a shared approach to problem solving and prevention

It is not until we put our heads together that we realise how much opportunity exists for us to support one another in similar goals

6. Creates intergenerational opportunities

Creating a community approach allows us to consider the benefits of our younger and older age groups working together. We can build opportunities for varying age groups to share their wisdom in a 2-way form of communcation.

7. Community approaches to mental health provide the perfect opportunity to feed into Strategic Shire and Local Govt Planning

This is a critical benefit that can help lead to significant long term change if supported and provides benefits for all involved.

Often we discover that so many individuals are doing amazing work within their own association but are not getting any traction. By working together we are able to use the strengths that already exist within our communities and local organisations to strengthen our approaches. We are able to take into consideration the ongoing issue of stress and overwork that many people are facing and create a process that is beneficial to all sectors including Health, Education, Law Enforcement, Small Business, Shire and local sporting and community groups.

Over my next series of blog posts I will guide you through an effective process utilising a Framework for change I have developed create a community approach for improving mental health and wellbeing outcomes.

If you would like to keep up to date with my blog posts, resources and tips please click on the link below to subscribe to my free newsletter. This will also give you my FREE detailed checklist listing all of the steps involved in this process and will give you an opportunity to access an additional video and detailed resource to support you in implementing your own Community Mental Health Action Team.

CONTACT ME

If you have any questions or comments about any of the above, please leave a comment below or send me an email at renee@thinkeffective.com.au

or Check out my page below for more information, resources and how we can work together.

As always please feel free to share my blog post with friends and colleagues and contact me with any questions

Renee Knapp

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