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Mental health initiatives in the spotlight for R U OK? Day

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Mount Alexander Shire Council is encouraging residents to learn more about initiatives designed to support positive mental health, ahead of R U OK? Day on Thursday 10 September.

Tuesday 1 September 2020

Mount Alexander Shire Council is encouraging residents to learn more about initiatives designed to support positive mental health, ahead of R U OK? Day on Thursday 10 September.

R U OK? Day is a national initiative that shines the spotlight on mental health and the importance of supporting and looking out for each other. The slogan for R U OK? Day 2020 is, ‘There’s more to say after R U OK?'.

“This year, more than ever, we need to check in with each other” said Ms Gaynor Atkin, Council’s Manager Community Partnerships.

“Coronavirus (COVID-19) has had a huge impact on mental health and wellbeing of many and is expected to continue to for some time,” said Ms Atkin.

“This year’s R U OK? Day highlights the importance of asking someone if they are ok and knowing what to say if someone you know says that they are struggling”.

Resources and conversation steps to support and help someone find strategies to better manage their mental health can be found at www.ruok.org.au

Council has a range of initiatives available to help support positive mental health in the community, and recently announced a $10,000 commitment in the 2020/2021 budget to expand mental health training and promotion to the community and businesses.

“This commitment provides us with the opportunity to expand our current annual youth mental health first aid training program”, said Ms Atkin.

“This is a very popular program, as it teaches participants how to recognise a possible emerging mental health problem or a mental health crisis.

“One in four young people experience a mental health issue at some point in their lives, so this is a very real thing for many people in our community,” said Ms Atkin.

Council has also allocated funds within the budget to build upon some of the initiatives recently developed in response to COVID-19.

These initiatives include:

Employee Assistance Program (EAP) - Local businesses are now able to access Council's EAP. Businesses are entitled to four confidential free sessions with an experienced psychologist and an option to request further sessions if required. For more information visit www.mountalexander.vic.gov.au/BusinessResources

The Cultural Pharmacy - This trial program, funded through VicHealth’s Art of Good Health grants, will partner with local health services to offer community members targeted cultural prescriptions - such as singing, dancing and drawing - to support their health and wellbeing. For details see www.mountalexander.vic.gov.au/News

Mondo Lounge - Young people aged 12-25 years can ‘virtually’ drop into Council’s Mondo Lounge Youth Space each Friday afternoon between 3.30pm to 6.00pm for a range of free, fun online and screen-free activities such as yoga classes, hip-hop dance workshops, soap-making and baking. To visit Council’s Youth website, see www.mountalexandershireyouth.com.au

COVID-19 Support Service - Council has created a dedicated COVID-19 support service to assist residents and businesses dealing with the impacts of COVID-19. It provides local information about things like financial assistance, counselling and mental health support. It can also refer community members to relevant service providers, agencies or programs for assistance. To access the service call the toll free number 1800 512 446 between 8.30am and 5.00pm (Monday to Friday) or email the support team on covid19@mountalexander.vic.gov.au or visit www.connectmountalexander.com.au

Council identified mental health as a priority in the Council Plan 2017-2021, and is continuing to work in partnership with community and health organisations, business networks, emergency services and volunteers across the shire to develop and coordinate mental health and wellbeing initiatives.

If you or someone you know is struggling please remember that help is available via any of the below services:

• Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636 www.beyondblue.org.au
• Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800 www.kidshelpline.com.au
• Lifeline 13 11 14 www.lifeline.org.au
• QLife 1800 184 527 www.qlife.org.au



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