• A tribute to our founder

    Tuesday, 16 August 2016

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health is deeply saddened by the news of the passing of our founding Director Professor Trevor Waring over the weekend.

    Professor Waring started the Hunter Institute in Newcastle back in 1992 with only a small part-time team, and through his hard work and dedication saw it become a vibrant and self-funding organisation over the next five years. In 1997, Trevor’s commitment to suicide prevention and mental health changed the course of the Hunter Institute’s work by applying for state and national grants in suicide prevention. This decision paved the way for our organisation to grow from a small not-for-profit in Newcastle, to a nationally recognised leader working in the prevention of mental illness and suicide.  

    Trevor and JaeleaThe success and longevity of our organisation today is in no small part a tribute to the passionate work and vision of a great man, who even after moving on in his career, remained connected and supportive of the Hunter Institute’s work. Trevor almost always attended our local events and would often check in with our current Director Jaelea Skehan to comment on the great work our organisation was doing.

    Trevor is a man who will leave the world with so much more that it had before him. His significant contributions to psychology, mental health and suicide prevention were recognised by many accolades through his career.

    The calibre of his contributions was recognised in 2004 when he was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for his outstanding work in mental health and psychology.

    Trevor had a great commitment to his work which was reflected in the active roles he played throughout his career serving on many important psychology and health councils, boards and committees. Amongst other things, he was chair of the Australian Psychology Accreditation Council, President of the NSW Psychologist Registration Board, Director of the Australian Psychological Society, and was the Chair of the National Council of Psychologists Registration Board for 14 years. Trevor was also proud to have been a Chancellor of the University of Newcastle (one of many roles with the University), and most recently a member of the Hunter New England District Health Board – where Trevor was a constant champion for mental health generally, and the Hunter Institute specifically.

    Trevor was very proud of the work the Hunter Institute was doing and recently spoke of how honoured he was to leave such a lasting legacy for mental health and suicide prevention. Not only will he be remembered as a truly amazing and inspiring leader, but he will be fondly remembered by his friends and colleagues for his big personality, his love of a good (or bad) joke and for being a proud family man – husband, father and grandfather. 

    He will be sorely missed by all staff who had the honour of working with him, including our Director, to whom he was a great mentor and friend. His work and his way with people will be a big loss for the health service, the university and indeed the community.

    Trevor has left a legacy of work that will live on beyond the years he had with us. 
    But he will be missed.

    Our thoughts go out to Trevor’s wife, Helen, and their children at this sad time.

  • Teacher mental health featured at the 17th International Mental Health Conference

    Wednesday, 10 August 2016

    17IMHCThis week, Hunter Institute of Mental Health Senior Project Officer Dr Greer Bennett will be attending the 17th International Mental Health Conference to present the latest results of the Start Well research project.

    Funded by the Teachers Health FoundationStart Well looks at improving the understanding of mental wellbeing in early career school teachers and  ways to positively influence early career teacher wellbeing and resilience.

    The theme of this year’s International Mental Health Conference is ‘Guiding the Change’ and the Start Well research project is working to do just that.

    Following a successful survey of over 450 early career school teachers from NSW this year, the Start Well project has been looking to identify under what circumstances a teacher may be more inclined to stay in the profession, or leave early. Interviews have also recently been conducted with key leaders in the field to complement and enhance this data collected from teachers.

    teachers researchThis work comes as evidence begins to mount in the education sector that school teachers may be experiencing high levels of stress and burnout early in their careers, increasing their risk for mental illnesses and also for attrition from teaching.

    In the coming months, the Start Well project will deliver key recommendations for offering support and assistance to the education sector for improving early career teacher wellbeing and resilience, based on the evidence gathered from teachers themselves, and key decision makers in the field.

    If you are attending the International Mental Health Conference this week, or are interested in learning more about the Start Well project, head to our webpage www.himh.org.au/home/our-research/current-research and don't miss Dr Bennett's presentation, Friday 12th August at 11:00am.

  • LifeSpan launch: Newcastle named as first trial site

    Thursday, 4 August 2016

    LifeSpanToday, Newcastle was named as one of four trial sites for Australia’s largest integrated suicide prevention program roll-out in NSW.

    LifeSpan, an evidence-based “systems approach” to suicide prevention, was officially launched at Parliament House NSW this morning and involves the simultaneous implementation of nine strategies to reduce suicide. 

    It was developed by researchers at Black Dog Institute and the NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence in Suicide Prevention (CRESP) in partnership with researchers, clinicians, community organisations, Indigenous health groups and people with lived experience of suicide and mental illness.

    The Newcastle trial of LifeSpan is being led by the Hunter New England Local Health District on behalf of the Hunter Alliance.

    The Hunter Alliance is a partnership between the four major health care providers in Newcastle, namely the Hunter New England Local Health District (including the Hunter Institute of Mental Health), Hunter New England Central Coast Primary Health Network (HNECCPHN), Hunter Primary Care and Calvary Ltd.

    Newcastle will be the first of four trial sites in NSW, with planning to commence in October 2016.

    Hunter Institute of Mental Health Director, Jaelea Skehan says the LifeSpan trial is a great opportunity for the Newcastle community and our local services and networks are well placed to deliver a successful trial.

    “Everyone has a role to play in suicide prevention, but action is most effective when it is planned and coordinated with a focus on the needs of the local community and drawing on the collective strengths of local agencies.

    “The LifeSpan trial will build on work already occurring in Newcastle through the Hunter Suicide Prevention Collaborative, a group of local organisations led by the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, which has been working together behind the scenes for the past three years,” said Jaelea.

    More information about LifeSpan, including details of the nine strategies and the four trial locations, can be found at www.lifespan.org.au.

    For interviews for the Newcastle trial site, please contact Brooke Cross, Hunter Institute of Mental Health,
    0414 292 403 brooke.cross@hnehealth.nsw.gov.au


  • Recognising friends and partners for International Day of Friendship

    Friday, 29 July 2016

    For more than 20 years the Hunter Institute of Mental Health has been working in partnership with individuals, families, organisations and communities to deliver programs that have made a considerable contribution to the mental health and wellbeing of many people across the country.

    We value the friendships we have made over the years and continue to foster these relationships and work in collaboration to achieve the best outcomes for the communities we serve, including those who have personal experience of mental illness and suicide.

    This week, our organisation was presented with the Suicide Prevention Australia LiFE Award for Excellence in Community Engagement. In accepting the award, Director Jaelea Skehan noted the importance of empowering others, including others and working in partnership to engage communities in suicide prevention.

    Ahead of International Day of Friendship tomorrow, we’d like to recognise our friends and partners who have collaborated with us and contributed to the work of our organisation. We thank you for your ongoing support and look forward to continuing our work together in the future.

    "By working together and empowering communities we will be able to change lives and indeed save lives." Jaelea Skehan
     

    Vimeo 


  • Hunter Institute wins LiFE Award for suicide prevention

    Wednesday, 27 July 2016

    HIMH award 1Last night, the Hunter Institute was recognised for its collaborative work with the mental health and suicide prevention sectors, media and communities as the recipient of the 2016 LiFE Award for Community Engagement (organisation).

    The award was accepted by Hunter Institute Director Jaelea Skehan and presented by Sue Murray, CEO of Suicide Prevention Australia, at the National Suicide Prevention Conference in Canberra.

    The Annual LiFE Awards recognise excellence in suicide prevention and are a prestigious national event that showcases the exciting, innovative and diverse range of programs being undertaken within the field.

    Since 1997, the Institute has been actively working regionally and nationally in suicide prevention delivering successful evidence-based policy and programs, and has demonstrated capability and excellence in community engagement through its Mindframe National Media Initiative work and Conversations Matter program.

    HIMH award 2In accepting the award, Ms Skehan was both delighted and honoured noting how important it was to see the staff at the Institute acknowledged, not just for the work they do, but the way they go about doing it.

    "More than ever before, communities are interested in and engaged with the issue of suicide prevention so we need to consider ways to involve them and support them to take on a role in suicide prevention.

    "We also need to support communities when they have been affected by suicide and ensure that we give them the tools to talk about what happened and to heal."

    Jaelea Skehan said that the award is an acknowledgement of the work that the team have done alongside communities across Australia.  

    "People will rarely hear about much of the work our team does with communities because the goal of that work is to support other agencies and leaders within communities.

    "I am proud of the work our team does, often going above and beyond what is expected because they feel connected to and committed to changing and saving lives."

    The Hunter Institute was also proud to present its Mindframe sponsored LiFE Media Award to the The Sunday Telegraph for their “Can We Talk” youth suicide media campaign.

    Mindframe Program Manager Marc Bryant said, "The Sunday Telegraph engaged Mindframe early on and took steps to ensure stories focused on encouraging hope and help seeking behaviour, whilst making sure risk was mitigated by not focusing on information that may impact negatively on vulnerable people.”

    The Hunter Institute congratulates all the other award winners on the night and the team at Suicide Prevention Australia for hosting an important and inspiring event.

    Follow the Hunter Institute of Mental Health on Facebook and Twitter @HInstMH.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • National Suicide Prevention Conference – Connecting culture, context and capabilities

    Friday, 22 July 2016

    SPA Conference 16Hunter Institute of Mental Health staff are actively preparing to facilitate a range of presentations and workshops as part of this year’s National Suicide Prevention Conference in Canberra.

    Hosted by Suicide Prevention Australia, the conference titled ‘Connecting culture, context and capabilities’ is being held this Sunday 24th to Wednesday 27th July, and is a platform for the exchange of ideas to help achieve the agenda of halving suicides in Australia over the next ten years.

    This year, the Hunter Institute will showcase the ongoing development and key outcomes of its Mindframe National Media Initiative and Conversations Matter programs, through five different presentations over the four day conference.

    Hunter Institute staff are also excited to attend the 13th Annual LiFE Awards ceremony on Tuesday evening, with Director Jaelea Skehan set to proudly present the ‘Media Award’ category winner for 2016, which was judged and sponsored by the Hunter Institute’s Mindframe Program.

    Hunter Institute Program Manager Marc Bryant, who manages Mindframe, says the LiFE Awards are a great opportunity to acknowledge the work of those who are doing fantastic things in suicide prevention.

    “It’s great that the Hunter Institute is involved again as an judge for this year’s LiFE awards, with a high calibre of media entries to choose from.

    “Meanwhile, the team is really looking forward to the pre-conference workshop on media and lived experience, as well as presenting on the new social media guidelines for media and communication professionals,” said Marc

    Over the course of the four-day program, staff will be on hand at an exhibition booth featuring resources and information from the range of projects and programs managed by the Hunter Institute. We encourage individuals and organisations to come and say hello.

    The Hunter Institute will be holding the following workshop and presentations at this year’s conference:

    Sunday 24th July

    Pre-Conference Workshop: Public Speaking and Media for Lived Experience Spokespeople and Organisations Engaging Spokespeople.

    Kim Borrowdale, Head of Communications, Suicide Prevention Australia
    Marc Bryant, Program Manager (Mindframe), Hunter Institute of Mental Health
    Kristy Platt, Senior Project Officer (Mindframe), Hunter Institute of Mental Health
    Guest speakers: ABC Journalist Ginger Gorman and Lived Experience Speaker Peta Dampney

    Monday 25th July

    Concurrent session presentation: Do Australian Media Agree with Recommendations for Reporting Suicide?

    Jaelea Skehan, Director, Hunter Institute of Mental Health

    Symposium presentation: Conversations Matter for professionals working with culturally and linguistically diverse communities (session repeated on Tuesday 26th July)

    Marc Bryant, Program Manager, Hunter Institute of Mental Health
    Tegan Cotterill, Acting Program Manager, Hunter Institute of Mental Health

    Tuesday 26th July

    Concurrent session presentation: Mindframe National Media Initiative Guidelines to Support Safe Online Discussions of Suicide, Self­-Harm and Mental Illness

    Marc Bryant, Program Manager, Hunter Institute of Mental Health
    Kristy Platt, Senior Project Officer Hunter Institute of Mental Health

    Wednesday 27th July

    Concurrent session presentation: Conversations Matter: Resources for Professionals that Work with Aboriginal Communities (NSW)

    Jaelea Skehan, Director, Hunter Institute of Mental Health
    Todd Heard, Aboriginal Psychologist and Conjoint Fellow of the School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Newcastle

    For the full program and more information about the National Suicide Prevention Conference, please visit https://www.suicidepreventionaust.org/conferences/index.html or download the conference app https://eventmobi.com/nspc16/

  • Hunter Institute in NZ for World Journalism Education Congress

    Monday, 11 July 2016

    WJEC 

    Hunter Institute of Mental Health’s Mindframe National Media Initiative will be showcased on the international stage at the World Journalism Education Congress (WJEC) this week.

    The WJEC is being held in Auckland, New Zealand from 14 – 16 July and will be preceded by the Journalism Education and Research Association of Australia (JERAA) Pre-Conference on 13 July 2016, which has been supported by the Hunter Institute for over 15 years.

    Mindframe’s effectiveness in Australia and collaborative approach with various sectors and industries will be the focus of a number of panel discussions and papers which will be presented by Hunter Institute staff.

    Director of the Hunter Institute Jaelea Skehan will also be undertaking a series of stakeholder meetings with New Zealand colleagues, including the New Zealand Ministry of Health, New Zealand Press Council, academics and educators.

    For more information about the conferences and activities, please visit: http://www.wjec.aut.ac.nz/

    Follow Jaelea and the Hunter Institute on Twitter for live updates during the week @jaeleaskehan @HInstMH
  • Teacher wellbeing and resilience to feature at ATEA Conference

    Tuesday, 5 July 2016

    This week, Dr Greer Bennett and Liz Kemp from the Child, Youth and Wellbeing team of the Hunter Institute of Mental Health will be attending the Australian Teacher Education Association Conference in Ballarat discussing Teacher Education: Innovation, Interventions and Impact. 

    teachers researchDr Greer Bennett will be presenting on the Start Well project which is a current research project looking at helping the education profession understand the ways in which relationships in general and peer support in particular can positively influence early career teacher wellbeing and resilience. 

    Greer and Liz will also be holding a sponsor exhibition booth, providing information and free resources to conference delegates on the Response Ability, Connections and Foundations programs which all aim to promote positive mental wellbeing and development in children.

    Supporting the social and emotional development and wellbeing of children and young people has been associated with better mental health outcomes, improved behaviour and higher academic achievement. For over 19 years, the Hunter Institute of Mental Health has been providing information and resources to teachers and educators for use in early childhood, primary, middle years and secondary teaching training. 

    If you are attending the Australian Teacher Education Association Conference this week, head to the Hunter Institute of Mental Health booth to get your free copies of these valuable resources and if you aren’t attending the conference but are still interested in these programs, head to our website to learn more at www.himh.org.au/home/our-programs/child-youth-and-wellbeing-program 

  • Hunter Institute congratulates YAWCRC on leaving legacy in mental health and suicide prevention

    Thursday, 30 June 2016

    Jaelea photo at YAW, Social Media Roundtable

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health is a proud partner and supporter of the Young and Well Collaborative Research Centre, collaborating on research, programs and new thinking that explore the role of technologies in improving mental health and wellbeing and preventing suicidal behaviour. 

    Today, Young and Well will be finalising its programme of activities under the Cooperative Research Centre, after five years of delivering innovative translational research. The research centre has been able to bring together the collective expertise and passion of young people, researcher, clinicians, policy makers and industry partners. This has led to some ground breaking work that will have impacts for years to come.

    Risk and resilience

    Looking back, there have been many highlights from our partnership with the Young and Well CRC. A few standouts include:

    HIMH dinnerOn this final day of the CRC, we would like to thank the staff, young people and partners of the Young and Well CRC for their commitment, contribution and support of our collective work.  

    Director of the Hunter Institute of Mental Health congratulated Jane Burns and the team at the Young and Well CRC on leaving a legacy in mental health and suicide prevention.

    “The Young and Well CRC played an important role in putting young people at the centre of cutting edge research and innovation. All of us can learn a lot from that collaborative approach and the empowerment of young people to drive solutions for themselves and future generations of young people.

    “Some of the cutting edge work done through Young and Well and its partners will leave a legacy for generations to come. The way we do things has changed, and changed for the better.

    HIMH Dig Festival

    “It has been a privilege to work with the staff, partners and members of the Youth Brains Trust and we look forward to seeing what opportunities the future holds for them”, said Jaelea.

    To find out about some of the innovative work that has occurred by leveraging the expertise of young people, researchers, technology providers and others in the mental health and suicide prevention sector, visit the Young and Well CRC website at www.youngandwellcrc.org.au  


  • Issues paper puts spotlight on the importance of early childhood years

    Wednesday, 29 June 2016

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health, together with the Australian Psychological Society and Early Childhood Australia, has today released an issues paper recognising the importance of the early childhood years for mental health and wellbeing.

    issues paper 1The paper titled The Importance of the Early Childhood Years discusses mental health difficulties in children and the impacts these difficulties can have on health, behavioural, educational and financial outcomes.

    The paper has been developed to put a spotlight on how the early years shape children’s mental health and wellbeing, and highlights the need for continued and expanded high quality early childhood services and schools.

    Director of the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, Jaelea Skehan says the paper is an important step forward in opening the conversation about children’s future development and the role of educators.

    “Positive early childhood development is important for the wellbeing of children, and can also lead to lasting benefits for their future health and learning.

    “Thousands of children attend early childhood and primary schools services in Australia and educators play a critical part in supporting these children and their families,” said Ms Skehan.

    The paper discusses the training and support available to teachers and educators and considers how children’s mental health and wellbeing could be reflected in future investment and policy.

    CEO of Early Childhood Australia, Samantha Page states the importance of warm responsive and nurturing relationships as a protective factor for social and emotional wellbeing is well documented.

    “Families and early childhood educators have significant influence on how these relationships influence children’s mental health and wellbeing now and in the future.

    “It is important that early childhood services are not only recognised for the critical role they play in children’s development but also the role they play in supporting and developing partnerships with families,” said Ms Page.

    issues paper 2Ensuring educators are well-trained and supported to implement effective practice is key to creating early childhood and school environments that support children’s development and wellbeing.

    The Response Ability program and KidsMatter initiative are two Australian Government programs that aim to assist teachers and educators to improve the mental health and wellbeing of children.

    Dr Lyn O’Grady, KidsMatter National Project Manager at the Australian Psychological Society believes in whole-of-service professional learning and encourages services and schools to implement practices and programs that foster supportive learning environments.

    “Because early childhood is so influential, adults caring for children must be supported to provide environments and experiences that enable children to develop in optimal ways,” Dr O’Grady said.

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health, along with Australian Psychological Society and Early Childhood Australia, is committed to working collaboratively in the health and education sectors to achieve positive mental health and wellbeing for children, and to prevent mental illness.

    The Importance of the Early Childhood Years Issues paper is available to download at www.himh.org.au/issuespaper

    For more information about Response Ability visit: www.responseability.org
    For more information about KidsMatter visit: www.kidsmatter.edu.au

  • Hunter Institute commemorates and recognises National Sorry Day

    Thursday, 26 May 2016

    Today is National Sorry Day, an event held annually to acknowledge the forcible removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children which resulted in the Stolen Generations.

    NSD2016 

    Since the first National Sorry Day in 1998, this date has provided a space to remember the hurt and trauma caused by these practices and work towards recognition and healing.

    National Sorry Day is a chance for individuals and organisations to reflect on the ongoing impact of these practices on the social and emotional wellbeing of Indigenous Australians.

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health recognises the continued inequality of health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as a result of generations of loss, grief and discrimination experienced since colonisation and is committed to closing the significant gap.

    For information about National Sorry Day visit: http://www.nsdc.org.au/
    For information and resources about the Stolen Generations visit: http://healingfoundation.org.au/
    To view the Hunter Institute's commitment to the National Closing The Gap Strategy visit: http://www.himh.org.au/home/about-us/closing-the-gap

  • Hunter Institute supports professional communication of eating disorders

    Wednesday, 25 May 2016

    Next week, the Hunter Institute of Mental Health will provide education and training on the communication of eating disorders as part of the Butterfly Foundation’s workshop series for communication practitioners.

     ED 1

    Eating Disorders in Action – the pros and cons of eating disorders communication workshops will run 30-31 May in Sydney and Melbourne for communication, media, public relations, public affairs and marketing professionals to learn how to communicate about eating disorders.

    The Hunter Institute has been invited by Butterfly to conduct a one-hour session on safe and effective communication, which will be presented by members of its Mindframe National Media Initiative team.

    Mindframe is a national education and training program, funded by the Australian Government, with the aim of encouraging responsible, accurate and sensitive representations of mental illness and suicide in the mass media.

    In 2012, Mindframe partnered with the National Eating Disorders Collaboration (NEDC), led by Butterfly, to develop an evidence-based resource for media and communication professionals, tailored specifically for the portrayals of eating disorders.

    Since its launch, Mindframe has continued to work collaboratively with Butterfly and the NEDC to educate and support professionals to guide best-practice reporting of these issues.

    Hunter Institute’s Marc Bryant, Program Manager of Mindframe, will attend the inaugural workshops next week and is pleased to be involved.

    “The Hunter Institute is renowned for its work in the communication of mental illness, so we are excited to again be working with the Butterfly Foundation to educate and build the capacity of professionals to make informed choices about the messages they convey relating to eating disorders.

    “We know that the media and other public relations activities can play a powerful role in increasing community awareness and understanding of the risk factors and impact of eating disorders. We commend the Butterfly Foundation for facilitating these discussions through this workshop series,” said Marc.

    Participants attending the free workshops will also learn to: consider eating disorder symptoms, behaviours and triggers; identify impacts of current media coverage and campaigns; incorporate lived experience voices safely, and build networks and opportunities to collaborate around awareness strategies and activities.

    Seats to the workshops are strictly limited and pre-booking online is essential.

    For more information and to register, please visit: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/eating-disorders-in-action-workshops-tickets-24761573533 

    Download the Mindframe guide for reporting and portrayal of eating disorders, developed with NEDC here: www.mindframe-media.info/__data/assets/pdf_file/0010/5140/MF-NEDC-Resource.pdf 

     MF ED helpseeking

  • Statement from HIMH Director: The time for action is now

    Tuesday, 24 May 2016

    Jaelea photo

    Today, all political parties and MPs are being asked to pledge their support for suicide prevention. Suicide is an issue that affects all age groups and all communities, as shown in the recent causes of death data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in March 2016.

    The data for 2014 indicated that 2,864 people died by suicide. This equates to almost eight people per day in Australia, a fact that should not sit well with anyone. Not with politicians, not with people working in suicide prevention, and not with the community.

    While the suicide prevention sector and the community has been calling for a renewed focus on suicide prevention, the human and societal costs mean that the time for change is now.

    Australia experienced its last peak in suicide rates in 1997, when rates reached 14.6 per 100,000. At that time, the first national youth-focused suicide prevention strategy was developed. What followed was a coordinated national commitment and effort which saw rates reduced by about 30% over the next 8-10 years with almost a 50% reduction in youth suicide for that period.

    But, what has followed since then is almost a decade of little change. Little change to our national direction, and little change to suicide rates which plateaued during that period. Data released in March this year has shown that there is a clear and immediate need to refresh our approach, with data indicating that rates increased nationally from 10.9 per 100,000 in 2013 to 12.0 per 100,000 in 2014.

    This is an important bi-partisan issue that needs action and support now from all parties to pledge their commitment to more focus and funding on suicide prevention initiatives.

    What the community needs and deserves is that commitment to be across all levels of government, the not-for profit sector and front-line services, to pledge that they will work better and work together over the next decade to turn things around again.

    Change is most definitely possible. But it needs to start now with better coordination of Commonwealth, state and local resources and a renewed promise to use all the expertise that this country has access to – researchers, clinicians, public health experts, those with lived experience and the broader community.

    If we want to build resilience and achieve better outcomes for children, young people and families we must continue to aim higher and work collaboratively across sectors, building those networks and relationships to better support our communities.

    While further research is important, we have good evidence for a range of strategies that work in suicide prevention. What we need to do is better connect this research to our practice and ensure our suicide prevention efforts can be coordinated at a regional level so it is relevant to our local communities and their needs.

    And we need to get the balance right between focusing on the community and focusing on the service system. We must continue to raise awareness of suicide and build community capacity, but we must also ensure that these approaches are backed-up by, and work alongside, a modern, flexible and effective service system.

    Finally, we need to acknowledge that until we address many of the underlying problems such as social disadvantage, family violence, childhood trauma, discrimination and racism, that approaches will be ineffective. Everyone who cares about health, wellbeing and suicide prevention should care deeply about these issues and not stay silent about things that matter.

    If political parties are going to pay more than lip service to suicide prevention, they need to commit to real reform so that we can support those most at risk, build a capable workforce and also address some of the underlying determinants of poor wellbeing.

    We need to see that our government is going to integrate a truly prevention focused approach to mental ill-health and suicide in Australia.

    We know that prevention focused approaches are more cost-effective than treatment approaches, not to mention the fact that the growing burden of mental ill-health cannot be reasonably stemmed by treating one individual at a time.

    Suicide is costing us too much as a society. It is time we give it the investment it requires and the collective effort that it deserves. Change is possible, but the time to start is now.

    Important links for MPs, Media and Communities

    helpseeking

  • Student research survey: seeking views and attitudes about reporting and communication of suicide

    Wednesday, 11 May 2016

    JPRCOMMS student researchThe Hunter Institute of Mental Health invites journalism, communications and public relations students to participate in a research project looking at their views and attitudes about the reporting and professional communication of suicide in Australia.

    Within the suicide literature, there has been extensive research investigating the relationship between news reporting and suicide. This research has been used to develop evidence-based recommendations regarding how to safely report on suicide. However, there has been very little research looking at the views of students, nor their attitudes towards suicide more broadly.

    To address this gap in our understanding, a team of staff from the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, (who manage the Mindframe National Media Initiative) are conducting a brief online research project, in collaboration with the University of Newcastle. This complements a recent study conducted with media professionals in Australia.

    The team are seeking participation from a range of Australian-based journalism, public relations and communications students (over 18 years) to complete a brief online survey. The survey will benefit from receiving a range of views; therefore you do not need any prior knowledge relating to suicide to participate.

    Participation in this research is entirely voluntary and all responses will be maintained strictly confidential.
    At the end of the survey you can choose to enter your name into the draw to win one of ten $50 vouchers as a thank you for your contribution. The record of your name will be kept separately from the anonymous online survey.

    If you would like to participate, please click on the link below. The surveys will be open until 30th June 2016.

    If you are studying to become a Public Relations Professional, please enter on the following link:
    https://www.research.net/r/GMK8SFY

    If you are studying to become a Journalist/Communications Professional , please enter the following link:
    https://www.research.net/r/KZCSY6H

     

    If you require further information or have any questions regarding this study, you can contact:

    Jaelea Skehan   ph: (02) 4924 6900;  Jaelea.Skehan@hnehealth.nsw.gov.au
    Dr Renate Thienel  ph: (02) 4924 6943;  Renate.Thienel@hnehealth.nsw.gov.au

  • Opinion: Culture does matter when talking about suicide

    Tuesday, 3 May 2016

    Our Director Jaelea Skehan with Maria Cassaniti Manager of Transcultural Mental Health Centre NSW wrote this opinion piece for the Newcastle Herald highlighting the new Conversations Matter resource for professionals working with CALD communities.

    Newcastle Herald article: http://www.theherald.com.au/story/3883324/culture-does-matter-when-talking-about-suicide/


    Jaelea

    There are many issues that as a community we find difficult to discuss. But, for many of us, talking about suicide would be at the top of the list.

    We are more open about the need to discuss, or talk about, suicide than we once were. But fear, confusion, stigma and a lack of knowledge can all get in the way.

    We know from talking to communities across NSW that there is a desire to talk about suicide, but people are concerned about making the situation worse and often confused about the ‘right’ way to handle the conversation.

    Maria CassanitiWhen talking to people from a culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) background specifically, we also heard concerns about the impact of trauma on some communities, language and cultural barriers as well as conceptual differences in how suicide is understood and discussed across cultural groups. 

    People from our diverse communities often respond to, and are impacted by, various cultural understandings of suicide and suicidal behaviour. So it is important that when we have conversations about suicide we are open to a range of varying and shared perspectives. 

    When done safely and effectively, conversations about suicide with individuals and in community settings can be an important way of increasing support and contributing to the wellbeing of those impacted. Importantly, embracing conversations around particular community strengths and cultural protective factors may also support the broader community conversations about suicide.

    It is important for all communities, and those working with communities, to have practical and helpful advice about ways to plan for and conduct the different types of conversations we can have about suicide. 

    While these discussions can be uncomfortable and challenging at times, the silence of others can reinforce the isolation, stigma and shame that people who are thinking about suicide or impacted by suicide may already be feeling.  

    Through a partnership between the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, the Transcultural Mental Health Centre NSW and the NSW Mental Health Commission a new resource for health professionals is now available to guide safe and appropriate discussions about suicide for culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities.

    Conversations MatterThe “Supporting CALD communities to talk about suicide” resource forms part of the world-first online Conversations Matter suite of resources to support safe and effective community discussions about suicide.

    Conversations Matter provides practical, evidence-informed guidance to empower communities to discuss suicide in a way that breaks down stigma, increases understanding, and supports those affected.

    The additional resources provide an essential tool in building the capacity of health professionals and strengthening communities to talk about this sensitive topic, in a culturally appropriate and safe manner.

    We need to ensure that as a community we are not “too afraid” to talk about suicide, while ensuring that conversations are safe, helpful and resonate with our culturally and linguistically diverse communities. 

    Resources are available online at conversationsmatter.com.au. For immediate support call Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467 or Lifeline 131 114.

  • Launch: New resource for health professionals when discussing suicide with CALD communities

    Wednesday, 27 April 2016

    Today, the Hunter Institute of Mental Health has launched a new resource that provides information for health professionals to guide safe and appropriate discussions about suicide with culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities.

    CM CALD 2The “Supporting CALD communities to talk about suicide” resource was funded by the Mental Health Commission of NSW and developed in partnership with the Transcultural Mental Health Centre NSW.

    It forms part of the world-first online Conversations Matter suite of resources to support safe and effective community discussions about suicide. These include prevention, intervention and postvention settings.

    When done safely and effectively, conversations about suicide with individuals and in community settings can be an important way of increasing support and contributing to the wellbeing of those impacted.

    Hunter Institute of Mental Health Director Jaelea Skehan said there are a number of factors which must be considered before initiating conversations with CALD communities around suicide and suicide prevention that the new resource can help health professionals to navigate.

    “It is challenging enough to talk about suicide, but it can be even more challenging when needing to consider the diversity of cultures, beliefs and languages we have in the NSW community,” said Jaelea.

    Conversations MatterMs Skehan added that some of the important factors to consider when discussing suicide with CALD communities include understanding the risks and vulnerabilities to suicide that may arise from migration, resettlement and acculturation, fear and stigma associated with mental health problems in certain cultures, varying cultural traditions when discussing sensitive subjects and concerns around confidentiality.

    “This new resource has been designed for people working in professional or leadership roles with CALD communities and provides practical tips when talking about suicide, so it can be done in a culturally appropriate and safe way,” she said.

    The resource was developed through consultation with CALD community members and professionals, with support from the Transcultural Mental Health Centre NSW.

    Transcultural Mental Health Centre Manager Maria Cassaniti said the resource is important for ensuring that people working in health or non-health community liaison roles have the necessary knowledge and skills to support discussions about suicide with CALD communities.

    “This is an essential tool in building the capacity of health professionals and strengthening communities to talk about this sensitive topic, in a culturally appropriate and safe manner.

    CM CALD 1“The tool provides the motivation for professionals to talk about suicide and suicide prevention in a way that makes sense within culturally and linguistically diverse settings, but that also makes sense within the Australian context,” Maria said.

    In the Living Well report, the Mental Health Commission of NSW identified the need for a stronger multicultural mental health workforce and the development of mental health and suicide prevention policies, tools and health promotion resources for CALD communities.


    This new Conversations Matter CALD resource is available at www.conversationsmatter.com.au/professional-resource/resources-for-cald-communities

    For more information about Conversations Matter, please visit www.conversationsmatter.com.au

     

  • Opinion: Australian tweens rate their own wellbeing

    Tuesday, 26 April 2016

    Our Senior Project Officer Celia Rae wrote this opinion piece for the Newcastle Herald last week on the wellbeing of Australian tweens. 

    Newcastle Herald article: www.theherald.com.au/story/3862072/australian-tweens-rate-their-own-wellbeing/


    Australian tweens rate their own wellbeing

    You wouldn’t be alone in assuming positive wellbeing for tweens is about listening to Taylor Swift, completing the latest BuzzFeed quiz or sharing a photo via Snapchat.

    But how are our tweens really doing? Are they happy? Do they think positively about their lives and future?

    tween1Recently the Australian Early Development Census reported that 1 in 5 of our pre-schoolers is developmentally vulnerable. The Mission Australia Youth Survey tells us that our adolescents are highly concerned about school, stress and body image. But up until now, the wellbeing of those in their middle years has largely been overlooked.

    To address this knowledge gap, researchers from The Australian Child Wellbeing Project (AWCP) interviewed and surveyed nearly 5500 students aged 8 to 14 years old about their lives and wellbeing.

    Their findings are both reassuring and very concerning.

    What’s encouraging is that on a scale of 0 to 10, where 10 is the best possible life, 80% of young people reported that their lives were a 7 or more. However a significant proportion reported low wellbeing due to health complaints, going hungry to school or bed, experiencing bullying and/or lacking social support.

    But what’s most worrying is that low wellbeing is concentrated in groups of young people who are already recognised as being marginalised. This includes young people who are living with disability, from a culturally or linguistically diverse background, living in a rural/remote area and Indigenous youth.

    This means that a significant proportion of tweens have less opportunity to develop themselves into strong, skilled and capable adults.

    So what can we do to improve these figures?

    The report highlights school as one of several protective factors influencing wellbeing, and teachers play an important role in addressing the wellbeing of marginalised students. Findings indicate that the wellbeing of students is associated with wellbeing in other areas of life such as health or family. But for marginalised students, a positive school experience is critical.

    Tween2Our teachers are in a unique position to positively influence the lives of students by providing a safe supportive classroom, and helping children develop their social and emotional skills.

    One program that assists teachers to improve the wellbeing of Australian tweens is Response Ability, a federally-funded national initiative. Implemented by the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, the program provides universities and registered training organisations with resources about children and young people’s social and emotional wellbeing to use with their students.

    But the answer isn’t simple and doesn’t lie with one sector alone. A complex problem demands a complex solution. A solution that not only factors in the individual child, but the family, communities and environments in which they live. Change needs to be realised in a range of settings and involve the whole community. Parents, teachers, doctors, coaches – all adults in a child’s life - need to take part and each play an important role.

    It’s great that most of our young Australian’s are doing well. But the wellbeing gap our young people from marginalised groups are experiencing is an important issue. We must do more.

    www.responseability.org

     

  • Teachers' mental health and wellbeing in the spotlight

    Tuesday, 12 April 2016

    teachers researchThe mental health and wellbeing of early career teachers has been the subject of media attention this morning with the Start Well research project being featured on ABC Newcastle and Central West NSW radio.

    The Start Well project is a research study funded by the Teachers Health Foundation which has been running throughout 2016 with the aim of understanding the experiences of early career teachers in NSW in the context of mental wellbeing and resilience. The study is also investigating strategies which may be able to improve resilience and retention in the profession through utilising protective factors for mental wellbeing.

    Early career teachers have a known vulnerability for stress and burnout with the rates of early career teacher’s leaving the profession reported to be as high at 40% in some research studies. This means that almost 1 in 2 teachers could leave their careers before their 5th work anniversary- a worrying figure for both the education sector and the economy.

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health’s Senior Project Officer Dr Greer Bennett says that the reasons for high dropout rates in teachers are complex.

    “There are many factors which may contribute to high levels of stress and burnout in early career teachers including job dissatisfaction, feeling overwhelmed, heavy workloads, being allocated to difficult classes, social inclusion at school, among many others.

    “What is important to note however is that whether these teachers stay or leave the profession, we need better ways of supporting their mental wellbeing and resilience so that fewer teachers experience stress and burnout in the first instance,” she said.

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health has been successfully implementing mental health and wellbeing programs to preservice teachers for over 18 years through the Response Ability initiative and the current research will build the evidence base around mental health in teachers and schools.

    dollarphotoThe Start Well project is well underway with over 450 early career teachers completing a recent survey regarding their experiences in teaching so far and what supports they would like to see available to them to promote retention and good mental health. The results of this survey are currently being collated and analysed and are due to be published later this year.

    The next phase of this project will reach out to key policy makers and regulators in the education sector to gauge their views on the subject.

    This very important study will provide evidence to the education sector about what supports are needed for teachers at a very critical time in their careers. Importantly, this study has already allowed a large number of teachers to have a voice about their experiences in the field and exactly what supports they require.

    “The response we have received from early career teachers in NSW so far has been fantastic and thanks to them, we will now be able to report with robust and meaningful data on teaching experiences, which is great news for the teaching profession as a whole,” Greer added. 

    For more information about the Start Well research project, please visit: www.himh.org.au/startwell

  • Celebrating Closing the Gap Day

    Thursday, 17 March 2016

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health aligns itself with the goals of the National Closing the Gap Strategy.

    We acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the traditional owners and custodians of the land. We also acknowledge that the poorer health standards experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities today are the result of generations of loss, grief and discrimination experienced since colonisation.

    We recognise that we have a responsibility in planning and delivering our programs across Australia to close the significant gap between the health outcome experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples compared to those experienced by Australians as a whole.

    In undertaking our work, we shall seek to build and maintain partnerships with community controlled organisations, other Indigenous health organisations and work in close collaboration with community representatives. We promote a workplace that is welcoming and safe for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff and colleagues.

    Close the Gap is an important day to reflect on both the progress made and how much work still needs to be done.

    It is also a day to acknowledge the contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, programs and services that make a significant contribution to mental health and suicide prevention more broadly, our communities and the aims of the Close the Gap strategy.

    The Hunter Institute would like to take this opportunity to introduce people to the great work of the Wiyiliin Ta Child and Youth Counselling Service in Newcastle. We are co-located with this team, which focuses on the social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal children, young people and families.

    The team have shared what Closing the Gap means to them:

    “Working in partnership to promote the social and emotional wellbeing in a culturally appropriate way to Aboriginal people.

    For the Aboriginal people to have health services that work in partnership with the Aboriginal community and an increased number of Aboriginal workers for responsive healing, reducing risk factors and to strengthen connection to promote social and emotional wellbeing.

    We all have a responsibility to advocate, mediate, empower, build capacity and build resilience for the Aboriginal community.”

    Written by: Joh Bartley, Aboriginal Social Worker in partnership with Jude Payling, Non-Aboriginal Senior Clinical Psychologist from the Wiyiliin ta Aboriginal Child & Youth Counselling Service, CAMHS.

    For more information on their services click here.

  • Cultural respect for everyone who calls Australia home

    Wednesday, 16 March 2016

    Australia is a unique country that is shaped by the diversity of its people, their culture and lifestyle.

    cultural diversity week logoOver the next week, Australian communities are promoting community harmony and embracing multiculturalism for Cultural Diversity Week (12th - 20th March) and Harmony Day (21st March). The events and activities celebrating our country’s diversity aim to shine a light on the importance of inclusiveness, cultural respect and reinforcing the sense of belonging for everyone.

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health is dedicated to health equity in a way that values and respects the full diversity of the Australian population, and recognises the important contributions of our Indigenous communities and those who have come from many countries around the world in the work that we do.

    Harmony Day logoThere are many ways individuals and communities can get involved and celebrate cultural diversity - research your own cultural heritage, explore different cultural arts, watch a multicultural movie, organise a cultural-themed meal, these are all great starting points.

    By participating in activities or reading about other cultures this week, we can learn and understand how all Australians from diverse backgrounds equally belong to this nation and make it a better place. For more information visit www.harmony.gov.au and www.culturaldiversityweek.com.au.

    A selection of culturally and linguistically diverse resources developed by the Hunter Institute is listed below: 

    Foundations: Building Stronger Connections with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities

    Foundations: Celebrating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and culture   

    Foundations: Children from CALD backgrounds  

    Foundations: Social inclusion, cultural diversity, rural and remote areas  

    Response Ability: Multicultural issues and mental health 

    Response Ability: Student hand out for VET sector - refugees and mental health 

    Mindframe media resource for reporting mental illness suicide  - culturally and linguistically diverse media

    Mindframe media resource for reporting social and emotional wellbeing and suicide – Indigenous media 

    Connections: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Wellbeing and Refugee and Migrant Families (Fact sheets 7 and 8)

  • OPINION: Local issues, local solutions for suicide prevention

    Friday, 11 March 2016

    Opinion piece written by Hunter Institute of Mental Health Director Jaelea Skehan for the Newcastle Herald.

    To view the article online, visit: www.theherald.com.au/story/3783680/local-issues-local-solutions-for-suicide-prevention/?cs=308  


    Local issues, local solutions for suicide prevention

    JaeleaOn Tuesday the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released the causes of death data for 2014 and it was a sobering reminder for all those working in suicide prevention, and those affected by suicide, how far we still have to go.

    The data indicated that 2864 people died by suicide nationally in 2014, with 795 of those from NSW. This is a fact that should not sit well with anyone.

    The data is a reminder that suicide is an issue that affects all age groups, with the highest rates of suicide in men over 85 years followed by men in their 30s, 40s and 50s.

    The National Coalition for Suicide Prevention, of which the Hunter Institute of Mental Health is a member, set a bold target last year to reduce suicide by 50% over the next 10 years.

    The figures this week seem to make that goal further away, but it is possible with renewed focus, renewed resources and renewed ways of working together.

    Data released this week has shown that there is a clear and immediate need to refresh our approach.

    The Commonwealth Government has announced, but not yet resolved, changes to the way it prioritises and funds national and regional approaches to suicide prevention. It has also committed to a fifth National Mental Health (and suicide prevention) plan in partnership with the states and territories.

    But what the community needs and deserves is a commitment that all levels of government, the not-for profit sector and front-line services will work better and work together over the next decade to turn things around again.

    Regions like Newcastle and the Hunter will play a leading role in planning and delivering regional responses to suicide prevention. There is already local commitment to better co-ordinate Commonwealth, state and local resources and a commitment to use all the expertise this region has access to – researchers, clinicians, public health experts, those with lived experience and the broader community.

    Local agencies across health, primary care, emergency services, our NGOs and grief support agencies are already working together and reaching out to work with the community for local solutions.

    That commitment has already paid off, with new funding coming to the Hunter region to develop and deliver an innovative suicide prevention program that is soon to be announced.  By working together we will identify how we can best leverage further resources for this area and ensure we are building the capacity of our local services for long-term and sustainable change.

    I know many in our community are feeling despondent about the situation, especially after being labelled a “hotspot” in the newspaper this week. You only need to follow some of the conversations on social media to know how people are being affected.

    It is true that, that like many regions across Australia, we have lost too many people to suicide and too many people’s lives have been devastated by those losses.

    Harnessing our collective knowledge and passion are the things that will ultimately make the difference.

    I will often say that the time for change is not tomorrow, but today. In the Hunter, we started yesterday.


    For support 24/7 call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit lifeline.org.au. For more information and practical tips on how to talk about suicide visit conversationsmatter.com.au

  • Latest ABS data a sobering reminder for suicide prevention

    Tuesday, 8 March 2016

    JaeleaSuicide prevention has had more attention with governments and communities than ever before, but the release of suicide statistics for 2014 today are a sobering reminder of how much work is still to be done.

    Earlier today, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released the Causes of Death data for 2014, including the official suicide death data for Australia. While rates are still lower than our last national peak in 1997, the statistics released by the ABS indicate an increase between 2013 and 2014 following about a decade of little change.

    The data for 2014 indicated that 2,864 people died by suicide. This equates to almost 8 people per day in Australia.

    Hunter Institute of Mental Health Director, Jaelea Skehan says the data is a reminder that suicide is an issue that affects all age groups and we need to work across the life span.

    “There has been a lot of focus and attention placed on youth suicide here in this country, but the 2014 data reminds us this is an issue across all ages, with the highest rates of suicide in men being over 85 years followed by men in their 30s, 40s and 50s.”

    While the figures released today support the sector and community call for more investment and change, Hunter Institute Director Jaelea Skehan has urged the suicide prevention sector and the media to be considered with how it advocates.

    “While we need to advocate for change, we also need to remember that the community is looking to us for solutions and not sensationalism in the guise of advocacy.

    “The figures should not sit well with anyone, and what the community needs and deserves is a government and a sector that is willing to work together for immediate and sustainable change.”

    The Commonwealth Government has announced, but not yet resolved, to change national and regional approaches to suicide prevention as part of its response to recommendations put forward by the National Mental Health Commission.

    At the same time, many states and territories have developed new suicide prevention strategies. However Jaelea Skehan is calling on all levels of government, the not-for profit sector and support services to work better and work together, including bringing the health services back into the suicide prevention sector.

    “For the past decade or more, there has been a tendency to plan suicide prevention and prioritise action through the not-for-profit sector, but we need to get the balance right to ensure our efforts to raise awareness of suicide and build community capacity are backed-up by a modern, effective and available service system.

    “We also urgently need a workforce development plan for suicide prevention that details the core competencies needed and acknowledges the diverse sectors involved.”

    Director Jaelea Skehan also noted the importance of broader prevention efforts to ensure we have a future vision where less people get to the point of feeling like life is not worth living.

    “We need to acknowledge that until we address many of the underlying problems such as social disadvantage, family violence, childhood trauma, discrimination and racism, that we will be ineffective.”

    With almost 3,000 people per year dying by suicide and hundreds of thousands of people further affected each year, the Hunter Institute of Mental Health stands with other organisations in committing to do things differently.

    The human and societal costs behind the recent released figures indicate that the time for change is now.
    For more information on the data, please visit the Mindframe website: www.mindframe-media.info/for-media/reporting-suicide/facts-and-stats/_nocache

    For media interviews, please contact Brooke Cross, Senior Communications Officer Hunter Institute of Mental Health on 02 4924 6906; 0414 292 403; Brooke.Cross@hnehealth.nsw.gov.au  


    Useful links: Prevention First Framework (adapted: A Framework for Suicide Prevention): www.himh.org.au/suicidepreventionfirst Mindframe National Media Initiative: www.mindframe-media.info Conversations Matter www.conversationsmatter.com.au

  • Celebrating the contribution of women

    Tuesday, 8 March 2016

    Today, we celebrate International Women’s Day as a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to recognise acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities.

    We believe young girls and women have a right to live a life where they have equal access to education and employment, where they are supported to have good health and wellbeing, and where they are encouraged to become the best that they can be.

    On this special day, we also recognise the amazing women at the Hunter Institute of Mental Health who support our communities by working with, educating and breaking down stigma for people with mental illness and mental ill-health.

    As part of today's activities, some of these great women have shared their thoughts on women who inspire them and the important contributions of women in society. See their responses below:

     

    JaeleaJaelea

    Who is your female role model/who inspires you?

    I have been, and continue to be, inspired by women across all sectors of society. But I am most inspired by young girls.  I coach a team of 9 and 10 year old girls at my netball club and what strikes me is the confidence they have in their own ability, the enjoyment they get from being with others, and the way they include rather than exclude each other - regardless of their cultural, intellectual or athletic differences. I hope for a world where women embrace and support each other the way a 10 year old netball team does. 

    What important contribution do you think women make to society?

    I like to think that women have an ability to bring people together, have a sense of social justice and can be resilient and persistent in the face of adversity. Regardless of the role women play, these are important attributes to bring. 

    What unique qualities do you think women bring to the mental health and suicide prevention sectors?

    I have seen women show important leadership in this space – from Indigenous women in remote Australia who have almost single-handedly started and led community suicide prevention activities, to women with direct experience of mental illness who helped pioneer the consumer movement in this country, to the many female CEOs and Directors who are working together to find solutions to big problems. Female leadership across all levels should be encouraged and supported so together we can make a real difference to the lives of all Australians.

     


    Kimkim

    Who is your female role model/who inspires you?

    I can’t say that I have a specific female role model, but I do feel inspired by women who use their natural attributes and lived experience to encourage growth in others.

    What important contribution do you think women make to society?

    The contributions that women make to society are countless. However, an important contribution that women have made in the last century concerns challenging norms and traditional expectations with innovative ideas and behaviours.

    What unique qualities do you think women bring to the mental health and suicide prevention sectors?

    Innovative ideas, motivation for action and a desire for constant improvement.


    GreerGreer

    Who is your female role model/who inspires you?

    My female role model is Julia Gillard for her strength and persistence.

     

     

     

     


    AlexAlex

    Who is your female role model/who inspires you?

    The three women who inspire me the most are mum, sister and grandma. Each of them are so unique (as all women are!) but have supported me, encouraged me to never stop working towards the goals in my life and remind me of the things that truly matter in life.

    What important contribution do you think women make to society?

    Women make some of the most important contributions to society through their passions. Whether this be through their careers, raising children, caring for family members or advocating for a more equal society women change the world every day through continuing to fight the good fight of equality.

    What unique qualities do you think women bring to the mental health and suicide prevention sectors?

    I have been fortunate enough to work with inspiring women in the mental health and suicide prevention sectors (many of whom are here at the Hunter Institute), what I see these women bring is an unwavering commitment to the work that they do, each of them doing the work in their own way but standing up for what they believe in, challenge the status quo when necessary and also supporting those of us who are starting off in these sectors. Women supporting other women is one of the most powerful tools in the world!


    SaraSara

    Who is your female role model/who inspires you?

    I’m inspired by women such as Rosie Batty and Carrie Bickmore who have are using their devastating losses and prominent profiles to positive affect.

    What unique qualities do you think women bring to the mental health and suicide prevention sectors?

    Women bring a unique perspective on lived experience, compassion, empathy and a deep sense of commitment to the mental ill-health and suicide prevention sectors.

     


    MimiMimi

    Who is your female role model/who inspires you?

    My mum is my role model and continues to inspire me and give me strength every day.  She is a women who has shown incredible strength and determination throughout her life.  A women, who at the age of 22 courageously left her supportive family of hard-working parents, two brothers and five sisters to immigrate to Australia in the early 1970s from Macedonia for a better life.

    My mum always exhibits such positivity and provides encouragement, she has so much compassion and respect for others, it’s these positive values that became instilled in me from a young age. 

    I have so much admiration for this incredible self-less woman. I am the person I am today because of my mother and if I’m even just an ounce of the type of women she is, then I’ll feel really blessed.


    NicolaNicola 

    Who is your female role model/who inspires you?

    Everyday working mums who juggle running a household, a busy family social calendar, a professional career, drop off and picks up at school and childcare and nurturing the emotional, social and physical needs of their children inspire me every day. Oh and my fabulous girlfriends and my mum of course! I love being a woman and feel lucky to be living in an era where I can enjoy a satisfying career and be a mum. Women add great diversity to the workplace due to the different perspectives we bring to issues – thank you to all the women at the Hunter Institute of Mental Health for being so fabulous to work with! 

  • The importance of supporting and celebrating gender diversity

    Friday, 4 March 2016

    Mardi Gras 1The Hunter Institute of Mental Health wishes everyone a safe and mentally healthy Mardi Gras, as Australians and people from around the world celebrate the 2016 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Festival, and participate in and watch the parade this weekend.

    The Hunter Institute believes it is important for everyone to support and celebrate gender diversity and equality in our communities, as we work to prevent mental illness and suicide and improve wellbeing for all Australians.

    Our organisation recognises the disproportionate rates of mental illness within Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) communities and the impact of discrimination, homophobia and transphobia on individuals’ wellbeing.

    The Hunter Institute is committed to working in partnership with individuals, communities and peak organisations like the National LGBTI Health Alliance to further increase inclusive practice and knowledge within our organisation and to act as a mentor for others working with LGBTI communities.

    LGBTI Jaelea and ChrisHunter Institute Director Jaelea Skehan says people who identify as LGBTI can experience problems with their mental health, not because of their sexual orientation or their gender identity, but because of the stigma and discrimination they experience because of it.

    “Every person deserves the right to be accepted and celebrated for who they are, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

    “Stigma and discrimination of any sort can have dire consequences for a person’s mental health and wellbeing.”

    “The Hunter Institute is dedicated to ensuring inclusive practice, acceptance and equality remain central to all of the work that we do and the way that we do it,” she said.

    LGBTI championThe Hunter Institute has a range of informative and innovative resources to support the mental health and wellbeing of LGBTI communities, through its Mindframe and Response Ability programs. We are also proud to be ongoing members of the LGBTI Champions of Inclusion Project.

    We encourage people to learn more about how to be inclusive, and to check out our informative resources for educators and the media:

    For more information about LGBTI health-related programs, services and support, please visit: http://lgbtihealth.org.au/

  • Social and emotional learning important for teachers and students in schools

    Friday, 4 March 2016

    teacher newsThe Child, Youth and Wellbeing team at the Hunter Institute of Mental Health have been supporting the development of skills to promote social and emotional learning in schools for over 18 years through its Response Ability initiative. 

    The importance of social and emotional learning in schools is gaining widespread interest and has recently been highlighted in the latest edition of Teacher magazine.

    In a study of over 1,200 teachers, attitudes towards teaching and supporting social and emotional learning in both students and teachers were found to be positively associated with teacher wellbeing and job satisfaction. Importantly, the level of school-wide support a teacher has for educating students on social and emotional learning has been shown to be a critical factor in their levels of stress at work. 

    Response Ability is an initiative of the Australian Government Department of Health that aims to promote social and emotional wellbeing through pre-service training of school teachers and early childhood educators. Implemented by the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, Response Ability offers free evidence-based resources to Australian tertiary institutions and Registered Training Organisations. 

    RA logo_UPDATEDThere are many free podcasts and factsheets available online to help promote positive social and emotional learning in both students and teachers including:

    We encourage teachers to take a look and share resources with their colleagues. For more information visit www.responseability.org  

    Reference: Collie, R.J., Shapka, J.D., Perry, N.E., & Martin, A.J. (2015). Teachers’ beliefs about social-emotional learning: Identifying teacher profiles and their relations with job stress and satisfaction. Learning and Instruction, 39, 148-157. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.learninstruc.2015.06.002. 

  • Hunter Institute set to present for LIFE Think Tank series

    Tuesday, 23 February 2016

    LIFE logo

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health is set to showcase the work of its Mindframe program as part of a workshop series for suicide prevention and mental health professionals, starting next week.

    The LIFE Communications Think Tank series for 2016 includes free interactive sessions facilitated by On the Line, that will run during February and March across Australia.

    The aim of the full-day workshop series is to provide suicide prevention and mental health professionals with a unique opportunity to hear about national and local initiatives, exchange knowledge and share ideas towards addressing current issues within the suicide prevention sector.

    Hunter Institute Program Manager Marc Bryant, who manages the Mindframe National Media Initiative, will present the first workshop in Canberra on Monday 29th February.

    “We’re proud to be supporting this year’s Think Tank series. Our team look forward to delivering our session at each city event, providing information on safe and responsible communication of suicide in the media and social media, as well as hearing of the issues facing these communities,” he said.

    Events are being held in Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide.

    For tickets and a list of dates, locations and more information, visit www.livingisforeveryone.com.au/life-think-tank-workshops-2016.html  

  • National Apology: Heal our Past, Build our Future

    Friday, 12 February 2016

    National ApologyOn the 13th February 2008, former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd apologised on behalf of the nation for past laws, policies and practices that have impacted upon Australia’s First Nations Peoples, particularly members of the Stolen Generation.

    This year marks the eighth anniversary of the National Apology to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians with the Apology theme being Heal our Past, Build our Future, Celebrating our Heroes. It highlights the importance of recognising and sharing the experiences of our Stolen Generations members and those in our communities who make a difference.

    National Apology Day is a significant event in Australia’s history, and a time to recognise the strength and courage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who have been affected, and will continue to be affected, by the past policies of the Australian Government and the ongoing impacts of this on the mental health and wellbeing of Indigenous Australians.

    The Hunter Institute works closely with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations who work to support the social and emotional wellbeing of all Indigenous people including The Healing Foundation, and are dedicated to health equity and working in a way that values and respects the full diversity of the Australian population.

    The Hunter Institute acknowledges that the poorer health standards experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities today are the result of generations of loss, grief and discrimination experienced since colonisation and recognise that we have a responsibility in planning and delivering our programs across Australia to close the significant gap between the health outcome experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

    For more information on events and activities for National Apology Day 2016, visit:
    http://healingfoundation.org.au/apology-anniversary-13-february-2016/


    This week the Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP, tabled the 2016 annual report to Parliament on progress in Closing the Gap.

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health aligns itself with the goals of the National Closing the Gap Strategy, and was pleased to hear the Prime Minister say he will honour his commitment to working more with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders and communities.

    We agree that a whole of community approach is needed, “as a nation, we are a work in progress, and closing the substantial gaps in outcomes between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians is one of our most important tasks. We all share this responsibility – state and federal governments, communities, businesses and individuals, Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians,” said Mr Turnbull.

    There is still much work to be done.

    The progress report is available at http://closingthegap.dpmc.gov.au/

     

    Transcript of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s speech:

    “I move:
    That today we honour the Indigenous peoples of this land, the oldest continuing cultures in human history.
    We reflect on their past mistreatment.

    We reflect in particular on the mistreatment of those who were Stolen Generations - this blemished chapter in our nation's history.

    The time has now come for the nation to turn a new page in Australia's history by righting the wrongs of the past and so moving forward with confidence to the future.

    We apologise for the laws and policies of successive Parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians.

    We apologise especially for the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, their communities and their country.

    For the pain, suffering and hurt of these Stolen Generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry.

    To the mothers and the fathers, the brothers and the sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry.

    And for the indignity and degradation thus inflicted on a proud people and a proud culture, we say sorry.

    We the Parliament of Australia respectfully request that this apology be received in the spirit in which it is offered as part of the healing of the nation.

    For the future we take heart; resolving that this new page in the history of our great continent can now be written.

    We today take this first step by acknowledging the past and laying claim to a future that embraces all Australians.

    A future where this Parliament resolves that the injustices of the past must never, never happen again.

    A future where we harness the determination of all Australians, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, to close the gap that lies between us in life expectancy, educational achievement and economic opportunity.

    A future where we embrace the possibility of new solutions to enduring problems where old approaches have failed.

    A future based on mutual respect, mutual resolve and mutual responsibility.

    A future where all Australians, whatever their origins, are truly equal partners, with equal opportunities and with an equal stake in shaping the next chapter in the history of this great country, Australia.”

  • Minister recognises 18 year milestone of two innovative Hunter Institute of Mental Health programs

    Monday, 8 February 2016

    Minister for Health, The Hon Sussan Ley MP has acknowledged Hunter Institute of Mental Health’s 18 year milestone running two Commonwealth funded programs.

    Response AbilityFor almost two decades, the Hunter Institute has been managing the Response Ability Teacher Education program and the Mindframe National Media Initiative.

    Both projects work with tertiary educators focusing on the pre-service (university) training of professionals that have a role in suicide prevention and mental health, with funding from the Department of Health.

    Response Ability targets pre-service training of secondary, primary and early childhood teachers, and early childhood educators.

    Mindframe LogoMindframe works with the media and other sectors that influence the media, including university education and training of future journalists and public relations professionals.

    Hunter Institute Director Jaelea Skehan says the organisation is proud of the work it has done in developing these internationally innovative programs and the impact that they have had on our communities.

    “We know from research that investing in the promotion of mental health and wellbeing and prevention of mental ill-health leads not only to a more efficient use of mental health resources, it has a flow-on effect to a range of other health and community outcomes. 

    “Both Response Ability and Mindframe have been instrumental in building the capacity of future media practitioners and teachers so that their professions can influence mental health promotion and suicide and mental ill-health prevention," she said.

    Jaelea explained that if we want to achieve better outcomes for children, young people, families and communities, we must continue to aim higher and work collaboratively across sectors. 

    "The Hunter Institute has worked closely with teacher educators, journalism educators, other academics and industry people in developing and managing these programs.

    "We'd like to thank those who have given their support to the programs over the last 18 years, and acknowledge the considerable contribution they have made,” added Ms Skehan.

    More information about both programs can be obtained via www.mindframe-media.info and www.responseability.org

     

    View: Infographic timeline of key milestones

     

    Message from Federal Minister for Health, The Hon Sussan Ley MP:

    “I’m delighted to be able to acknowledge 18 years of collaboration between academics and educators from across Australia and the Hunter Institute of Mental Health to deliver key components of the government’s youth mental health and suicide prevention programs.

    “A wide array of professionals have a role in mental health and suicide prevention, including our health professionals as well as those working in other areas such as community services, emergency services, education and the media just to name a few.

    “The best time to prepare future practitioners for their role in mental health and suicide prevention is at the undergraduate level when they are forming their views about their profession and setting the foundation for future practice.

    “Australia has been innovative in this area, by looking at the undergraduate training of professionals that may have a role in mental health and suicide prevention.

    “In 1997, with funding under our first youth suicide prevention strategy in Australia, the Hunter Institute of Mental Health worked with academics and educators from teaching and journalism to explore options of working together to develop approaches that would allow future teachers and future journalists to be exposed to these issues as part of their training at university.

    “This means that anyone studying to be a teacher or journalist has the opportunity to learn about mental health and suicide prevention as part of their training. 

    “The Response Ability teacher education program now complements our national youth mental health and schools program in Australia, while the program for journalism education has been incorporated into the Mindframe National Media Initiative.

    “The Mindframe program has expanded in recent years to include curriculum materials for public relations and modern resources and case-studies that reflect the digital nature of media and communication. The program reaches over 2,000 graduates per year.

    “I would like to personally thank the educators, academics and other industry people who have given their time, energy and expertise to these programs over the past 18 years. 

    “I would like to particularly thank those, past and present, who have been members of one of the National advisory groups that support these programs; Those involved in the development and redevelopment of the programs as they expanded, and; The Hunter Institute staff who, over almost two decades, developed and managed these important resources funded by the Government.”

  • Inaugural meeting of NSW Suicide Prevention Advisory Group

    Wednesday, 3 February 2016

    This week, Projects Coordinator Alexandra Culloden represented the Hunter Institute of Mental Health at the inaugural Suicide Prevention Advisory Group meeting held in Sydney.

    Established by the Mental Health Commission of NSW, the newly formed group brings together representatives from a range of organisations and individuals with lived experience of mental illness, with the aim of strengthening the planning, monitoring and co-ordination of state-wide suicide prevention efforts.

    For more information and the official announcement visit: http://nswmentalhealthcommission.com.au/news/our-news/advisory-group-formed-to-advance-efforts-in-suicide-prevention

     

    SP advisory group 

    Image courtesy of the Mental Health Commission of NSW 


  • Community, Media and Arts team welcomes Government's mental health reform commitment

    Thursday, 3 December 2015

    MarcThe Hunter Institute of Mental Health’s Community, Media and Arts team has welcomed the Australian Government’s response to Contributing Lives Thriving Communities – Review of Mental Health Programmes and Services.

    In particular, the team believe the Australian Government's commitment to continuing national leadership whilst ensuring regional implementation of mental health and suicide prevention programs is a step in the right direction.

    “We know when working with media that having a mix of nationally agreed guidelines around reporting of suicide and mental illness, mixed with localised partnerships, education and training and capacity building across sectors has been a key to success,” said Program Manager Marc Bryant.

    Our work under the Mindframe National Media Initiative has developed over the past decade, with capacity building now occurring at the national, state and regional levels to connect media, mental health and suicide prevention organisations, and the community more broadly. 

    However, some issues are no longer regional or national, and global partnerships could and should be explored in some areas. A move towards embracing digital innovation makes this more possible, and with the global and digital nature of the media in 2015, thinking about international partnerships must also be part of our solution moving forward.

    “We know that the Australian media lead the world in reporting on suicide and mental illness, but the 24/7 nature of the news cycle and the fact that people can access information from anywhere in the world at the click of a button, means our national work needs to think beyond our own shoreline here in Australia” said Marc Bryant.

    The team also welcomes the Government’s commitment to reducing stigma. While we have made good progress in Australia to increase literacy around certain mental illnesses, we know that stigma still exists and can be a key barrier to people seeking support early.

    “A renewed coordinated focus on reducing stigma has been long overdue, as stigma is a major barrier for those beginning to experience symptoms of mental ill-health as well as their family and friends who support them.

    “Any national approach to addressing stigma must include a focus on evidence-based strategies that involve the media, the health sector, the community and particularly those with lived experience of mental illness and suicide,” Marc said.

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health is already looking at innovative ways we can extend the reach of our education and training services, and the Community, Media and Arts team are heartened to know that digital technology is a way forward now endorsed by the Government.

    Innovation in a digital age is a buzz word at the moment. It is of course, a critical factor to expanding our reach and capabilities in promotion and prevention as well as delivery of mental health services. 

    However, with every brave new world we have to think of what potential risks this brings and how we mitigate that. It’s important the Government listens to the experts and evidence to inform what we need to hear rather than what we want to hear in the digital space.

    “Our next approach to thinking about media reporting, and community conversations about issues like suicide, must consider both the benefits and risks of modern communication channels like social media.

    “Australia is well placed to move quickly in this space and developing best practice approaches to engaging communities safely online must be an early priority,” continued Marc. 
     
    The Community, Media and Arts team at the Hunter Institute of Mental Health looks forward to the release of further details about how the announced reform will work, and particularly how communities and media can contribute to the reform process.

    For more information on the work of our Community, Media and Arts team, visit: www.himh.org.au/home/our-programs/community-media-and-arts-program

    To read the Hunter Institute of Mental Health’s statement on the Government announcement visit: www.himh.org.au/home/news-and-media/current-news/news/2015/hunter-institute-welcomes-government-mental-health-reform-announcement-in-response-to-national-review

    For more information on Conversations Matter, visit: www.conversationsmatter.com.au

  • Child, Youth and Wellbeing team welcomes Government's announcement as start of long awaited system transformation

    Monday, 30 November 2015

    Gavin Hazel profile picThe Child, Youth and Wellbeing team at the Hunter Institute of Mental Health welcomes the Federal Government's announcement on mental health reform as the start of a long awaited system transformation.

    The orientation towards the role of mental capital; the importance of the early years of life in building resilience and wellbeing; and the need to seriously address the ways in which we bring families, communities, schools and children together to support mental health and wellbeing all acknowledge the need for change. The commitment to integrated school based programs and capability development are key parts of protecting children’s mental health and wellbeing.

    “We know our current models of intervention are not working well enough to meet our needs. The key to change is transforming the ways in which we think about supporting children, young people and families. Our focus must be on developing, implementing, and evaluating new ideas that address the factors contributing to the prevention of mental ill health and promotion of mentally health outcomes,” Program Manager Dr Gavin Hazel said.

    A single integrated end-to-end school based mental health approach will capitalise on decades of valuable work in the education and health sectors. It will allow for the necessary consolidation and growth we require for continued gains in child and youth mental health and wellbeing. This end-to-end approach will allow us to build common cross-sectoral agendas and engage in activities that mutually reinforce and strengthen families and children.

    “To drive the kind of large-scale social change that benefits the wellbeing of children, youth and families we need to work in integrated ways. No one sector alone is responsible or capable of responding to the needs of children, youth and families,” Dr Hazel said

    For an integrated approach to be successful, we will need to understand who all of the stakeholders and professions involved in meeting the needs of families, children and youth are, and what they should know about mental health? By building the awareness and capacity of all those involved in the lives of children, we can strengthen the impact of our programs and initiatives.

    “We must start with how we train and prepare professions. If we want integrated and seamless services we need to train people in integrated ways from the very beginning,” said Dr Hazel.

    The proposed national workforce support initiative is a strong move in this direction. As the National Commission’s review suggested, we will not be able to effectively respond to the needs of children and youth by relying on siloed service systems or one-on-one treatment after problems have occurred. We need to continue to develop and evaluate life span approaches to promotion and prevention that build skills, encourage help seeking and support care.

    “By drawing on best practice in both science and policy, we empower people, communities, organisations and government to enact sustainable and meaningful change in the mental health sector,” stated Dr Hazel.

    This Government response provides a framework for action and identifies the outcomes we need to work towards. To deliver these outcomes and reforms we need to look for ways to bring people and knowledge together. These are the key enablers of the system transformation that children and young people need.

    For more information on the work of our Child, Youth and Wellbeing team visit: www.himh.org.au/home/our-programs/child-youth-and-wellbeing-program

    To read the Hunter Institute of Mental Health’s statement on the Government announcement visit: www.himh.org.au/home/news-and-media/current-news/news/2015/hunter-institute-welcomes-government-mental-health-reform-announcement-in-response-to-national-review

    Check out Dr Gavin Hazel’s Croakey Piece calling for transformation in the supports available to vulnerable children, young people and families: www.himh.org.au/home/news-and-media/current-news/news/2015/hunter-institute-welcomes-government-mental-health-reform-announcement-in-response-to-national-review

     

  • Hunter Institute and Mates in Construction workplace training

    Monday, 30 November 2015

    Staff from the Hunter Institute of Mental Health will provide training on workplace suicide prevention for the Mates in Construction (MiC) executive team this week.

    The training on Tuesday 1st December will include the Hunter Institute’s Conversations Matter initiative, focusing on safe discussions around suicide in the workplace, as well as language, suicide prevention and the promotion of help seeking behaviour.

    Attendees will also learn about broader communication around suicide, using the Mindframe National Media Initiative’s capacity building approach. This will cover how to work effectively and safely with the media, social media and appropriate messaging for suicide prevention.

    The training builds on an important relationship between the Hunter Institute of Mental Health and MiC.

    For further information about training opportunities, for Mindframe visit www.mindframe-media.info, and for Conversations Matter visit www.conversationsmatter.com.au

     
     

  • Families, Workplaces and Targeted Prevention program responds to Government's mental health reform announcement

    Friday, 27 November 2015

    NicolaThe Families, Workplaces and Targeted Prevention team at the Hunter Institute of Mental Health welcomes the Australian Government’s response to the National Mental Health Commission’s Review of Mental Health Programmes and Services

    The Government’s announcement of a move away from the current piecemeal approach to suicide prevention towards a more systematic and planned, integrated and regional approach reaffirms the views of the Australian community that more is needed to ensure that people at risk of suicide are better supported in their local community.

    As a national organisation based in the Newcastle region, the Hunter Institute supports the Australian Government’s commitment to strong national leadership in systems based suicide prevention reform backed up by comprehensive, coordinated planning and implementation at a local level.

    For some time our organisation has been working closely with regional partners in the Hunter region to develop better local responses to suicide prevention. In addition, our current work in Tasmania is ensuring the development of an evidence-based policy framework for suicide prevention for the state as well as a comprehensive plan for suicide prevention training and workforce development; the first of its kind in Australia.

    The Government appears to have taken the views of key stakeholders through the Contributing Lives, Thriving Communities report seriously. This report overwhelmingly found that people who attempt suicide are not all receiving sufficient support and follow-up to help prevent further attempts.

    Program Manager for the Families, Workplaces and Targeted Prevention program Nicola Ingold said the Hunter Institute’s evidence-based resources for people who have attempted suicide, their family and close friends are a critical component in ensuring appropriate support in the high-risk period following discharge after a suicide attempt.

    The Way Back resources, developed with beyondblue, acknowledge the range of physical, psychological, emotional and social challenges following a suicide attempt. Now the priority will be to ensure that evidence-based resources and support are available as part of the integrated regional approach to suicide prevention.”

    It is not clear how the new reforms will impact on the significant numbers of family members, friends and carers in the community who provide support to people experiencing mental ill-health. The strong emphasis on promotion, prevention and early intervention in the Government’s reforms has missed the mark for carers.

    Taking a preventative approach to carers’ health and wellbeing, such as through the Hunter Institute’s Partners in Depression program, can improve carers wellbeing and quality of life while also reducing the risk that this pivotal support group may “burn out” and be unable to continue providing care. It is understood that the

    Government’s Integrated Plan for Carer Support Services involves the imminent implementation of a national carer gateway, but this will do little to ensure ongoing practical support for vulnerable carers.

    “We know from the national evaluation of the Partners in Depression program that people providing support to someone with depression have poorer physical and mental health, challenges with their relationships and are less likely to participate in social activities.

    “Perhaps even more worrying, carers reported levels of psychological distress that were much higher than the Australian population and that suggested an immediate risk of mental ill-health,” said Nicola.

    For mental health reform to change the experiences of people and their families, it must also embrace a prevention-focused approach to supporting families and carers to ensure they stay healthy, well and connected.
    Our team look forward to the release of further details about how this reform will work, and we will continue to advocate for the best possible responses to suicide prevention, workplaces and families and carers.

    Useful links:

    For more information on the work of our Families, Workplaces and Targeted Prevention program visit: www.himh.org.au/home/our-programs/families-workplaces-and-targeted-prevention-program  

    To read the Hunter Institute of Mental Health’s statement on the Government's announcement visit: www.himh.org.au/home/news-and-media/current-news/news/2015/hunter-institute-welcomes-government-mental-health-reform-announcement-in-response-to-national-review

  • The best of YRBD rock out at the Cambridge Hotel

    Friday, 27 November 2015

    YRBD showcaseThis Saturday 28th November, finalists from Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog 2014-2015 will take to the Cambridge Hotel Glasshouse stage for the music competitions first ever showcase event.

    The inaugural gig supported by Big Apachee will feature a fantastic local line-up of young acts that were deemed some of the very best over the past two years of competition:

    • Arcades and Lions – 2015 winner
    • Pacefaint - 2014 winner
    • In Motion – 2014 runner up
    • Stuck In Tranzit – 2015 grand finalist

    The annual Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog music competition aims to promote mental health and wellbeing among young people and is managed by Newcastle-based Hunter Institute of Mental Health, in partnership with headspace Newcastle and headspace Maitland. This year’s competition drawcard first place prize was a professionally produced and mastered three-track EP, with 500 pressed CDs in addition to the live performance spot at the Cambridge Hotel.

    Arcades and Lions drummer Darren James said the band is thrilled to be playing at the Glasshouse and explained how the competition is an effective way of raising awareness about youth mental health.

    “The YRBD music competition has given us a chance to fulfil a dream in playing live music to a wide audience of people and to develop our skill as musicians.

    “Good mental health underpins everything about  the Youth Rockin’competition. The event provides a way of getting young people together to have fun and promotes an important message while putting live music out there,” said Darren.

    Hunter Institute of Mental Health Director Jaelea Skehan says Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog is an event where young people are not just accepted for their differences and what they bring to the stage, but they are celebrated for it.

    “Music means a lot to young people and it is often a way to express everyday feelings, whether playing or listening. The annual competition and this showcase event is a great opportunity for young bands, and also provides a way to let young people know more about mental health issues and how to seek help,” she said.

    Tickets to the Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog showcase event are available to purchase at the door from 8:30pm at $10 per person. The event is strictly for people aged 18+.

    If you love your music and you like supporting local talent, come along to the Cambridge tomorrow evening and experience the best of Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog showcase!

    Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog competition information and updates can be found at www.himh.org.au/YRBD or via the YRBD Facebook page at www.facebook.com/YRBDbandcomp.


  • Hunter Institute welcomes Government mental health reform announcement in response to National Review

    Thursday, 26 November 2015

    JaeleaDirector of the Hunter Institute of Mental Health Jaelea Skehan said today’s mental health reform announcement by the Government is a step in the right direction.

    “After two years of review and further consultation, the mental health and suicide prevention sectors can finally get on with the business of important reform.”

    Today’s announcement reflects what individuals, their families, the sector and the National Mental Health Commission has recommended; the need for a focus on national leadership and regional planning and implementation.

    “As an organisation that works nationally and is based regionally, the Hunter Institute understands firsthand how important it is to have good quality leadership and implementation at both levels,” said Jaelea.

    While there is little detail about how they will be supported, in principle the Hunter Institute believe Primary Health Networks are well placed to plan and oversee local responses to mental health and suicide prevention. In particular, we look forward to further information about how regional coordination of suicide prevention will be achieved.

    “We have already been working closely with regional partners in the Hunter and other parts of Australia to develop better local responses to suicide prevention and its impacts. Funding and leadership for those regional approaches is critical if we are going to make a real difference in suicide prevention,” stated Jaelea.

    The Hunter Institute also applauds the greater focus on prevention approaches and building resilience in children and families. Just last week our organisation partnered with others to have a national conversation on this issue in Newcastle bringing together government, health, mental health, community and social services, researchers, policy makers and community leaders to discuss this very issue.

    “As highlighted in today’s announcement, if we want to achieve better outcomes for children, young people and families we must continue to aim higher and work collaboratively across sectors, building those networks and relationships to better support the community,” said Jaelea.

    It is also encouraging to see an integrated approach to school mental health in today’s announcement, with a continued focus on the pre-service training of teachers and early childhood educators. After 18 years of working in this space with our Response Ability program, the Hunter Institute looks forward to a renewed investment and coordinated approaches that include the pre-service space as a priority.

    Importantly, this morning both Professor Allan Fels and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull talked about the economic impacts of mental health, with Professor Ian Hickie stating that if you invest in prevention and early intervention, you will change the shape of expenditure over time. We would like to see how the reforms announced today are going to integrate a truly prevention focused approach to mental health in Australia.

    “We know that prevention focused approaches are more cost-effective than treatment approaches, not to mention the fact that the growing burden of mental ill-health cannot be reasonably stemmed by treating one individual at a time,” Jaelea said.

    As an organisation, we are encouraged that the Government’s response appears to have listened to the National Mental Health Commission’s review. While we need further details quickly, we look forward to the challenge of implementing reform as soon as possible from today.

    Indeed we welcome the five core programmes of reform and look forward to playing a role in national leadership, promotion, prevention, early intervention and suicide prevention.


    Useful links:
    Prevention First Framework: www.himh.org.au/home/our-resources/prevention-first-framework
    Mindframe National Media Initiative: www.mindframe-media.info
    Response Ability Program: www.responseability.org

  • Calling for transformation in the supports available to vulnerable children, young people and families

    Tuesday, 17 November 2015

    Dr Gavin Hazel, Child and Youth Program Manager at Hunter Institute of Mental Health, wrote the following piece for Croakey yesterday on the need to “transform the ways in which we think about supporting vulnerable children and young people”.

    Link to online article: http://croakey.org/calling-for-transformation-in-the-supports-available-to-vulnerable-children-young-people-and-families/


    Leading experts and organisations from across Australia joined with local leaders in Newcastle today to discuss the mental health and wellbeing of children, young people and families.

    Organisers hope the Risk and Resilience forum will spark a national conversation about how to work across sectors and jurisdictions to strengthen families and children, with a particular focus on how to support vulnerable children and young people.

    The forum was hosted by the Hunter Institute of Mental Health in partnership with beyondblue, the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre and the Centre of Research Excellence in Mental Health and Substance Use.

    Check #CYFforum  for tweet-reporting from the event – and this Storify.


    Gavin Hazel profile picWe can all think of someone we know who has faced challenges, tough times or struggles in their life. Mental health difficulties touch us all either directly or indirectly. This is no less true for children and young people than it is for adults.

    Recently two significant reports that have addressed the mental health and wellbeing of children, young people and families have been released – the National Review of Mental Health Programmes and Services and the second Australian Child and Adolescent Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing.

    These reports have highlighted the need to do more, the need to work across sectors and the need to get in early to ensure happy and healthy children now as well as happy and healthy adults of the future.

    Right now policy, research, clinical practice, and community all share in wanting to do well by children and young people. But we also know from the Australian Child and Adolescent Survey that 1 in 7 children and young people between 4-17 years old will experience a mental health problem this year, equating to 560,000 children and adolescents in Australia.

    So the time to act is now.

    FR tip 5We can strengthen our collective activity through building common agendas, engaging in activities that mutually reinforce our goals, continuous communication, and evaluating the impact of our combined efforts. To drive the kind of large-scale social change that benefits the wellbeing of children, youth and families, we need to be engaged across a range of issues.

    We need to understand how to best strengthen families and children so they possess the necessary skills to achieve self-sufficient, healthy and secure lives. We must also transform the ways in which we think about supporting vulnerable children and young people.

    In reflecting on the current state of reform, research, policy, and advocacy I see that there are (at least) 10 areas in child and youth mental health that we can be collectively participating in to support change:

    1. Family and Youth engagement

    Understanding how to generate meaningful participation and involvement of families and youth is at the forefront of debates about mental health and wellbeing. It has been argued that this is a necessary component in care and results in improved outcomes. Service design, peer support, walk-in clinics, technology are all being examined for how they can be developed collaboratively with families and young people.

    2. Whole of Government/Community approaches to reform

    There is a fundamental difference in how we think about mental health in general and child and youth mental health in particular. The focus is on how we do our work collectively and across portfolios, sectors and departments.

    3. System transformation

    Health, child and family service systems are trying to do things differently. There is a drive to transform service systems to ensure access to the right service that is effective, efficient, equitable and acceptable. Questions of evidence, accountability, linkages, and sustainability are all central to these transformations.

    4. Pathways to care

    Families, young people, and children want access to the “right” service, at the “right” time and they want an outcome from this service. Australia is an innovator in how to respond to the question of youth access both through service development and technological integration, but significant challenges remain in regards to paths to services, equity of access, reduction of stigma, and service gaps.

    5. Transitions

    What happens when people move between systems of care? Given the age of onset for disorders and the chronic nature of some conditions, then transitions between services is a part of care. Beyond service systems there are many kinds of transitions that we also need to understand as children, youth and family move between educational settings, into the workplace, between care settings and through life stages.

    6. Promotion and prevention

    We need to continue to examine our shared understanding of promotion, prevention, early intervention, resilience and recovery. We will not be able to effectively respond to the needs of children and youth by relying on siloed service systems or one-on-one treatment after problems have occurred. We need to continue to develop and evaluate life span approaches to promotion and prevention that build skills, encourage help seeking and support care.

    7. Technology

    Technology offers us more than one way to bridge the gap between need and services. It is a rich field of clinical research, an emerging space for co-creation and co-delivery, reducing stigma and also a new domain of social interaction.

    8. Awareness, capability, and competency

    What are the professions involved in meeting the needs of families, children, and youth and what should they know? Whether you are a teacher, General Practitioner, social worker, police officer, nurse, coach, volunteer, clinician, or parent – what is the fundamental knowledge we should all have about children and youth? Building the awareness and capacity of all those involved in the lives of children can strengthen the impact of our programs and initiatives.

    9. School mental health

    Schools have a role to play in mental health promotion, skill building, early identification and linking with services to assist young people and families. When students have mental health issues they cannot learn effectively.

    10. Brain, behaviour and development

    The early years and adolescence are well-established critical windows of growth and development. Research and practice is demonstrating the significant and multiple roles of family, educators, carers and clinicians in supporting wellbeing and development.

    No one sector alone is responsible or capable of responding to these issues and opportunities. Change must involve all stakeholders – families, children, youth, service providers across the sectors, researchers across the sectors, policy makers across the sectors, philanthropy, NGO, and business.

    By drawing on the best in practice, science and policy we empower people, communities, organisations and government to enact sustainable and meaningful change. To do this we need to look for ways to bring people and knowledge together.
     

  • Teachers Health Foundation and Newcastle researchers: Supporting teaching’s most vulnerable

    Friday, 13 November 2015

    teachers healthThe need for mental health services from Teachers Health Fund among younger members has doubled in the past five years.

    Teachers Health Fund has launched the Teachers Health Foundation to improve teachers’ health and wellbeing by providing funding to support medical research.

    The first Foundation grant has been awarded to the Hunter Institute of Mental Health whose research focuses on early career teachers.

    13 November 2015 (Newcastle): The education sector ranks number two for mental stress claims in Australia, something the Teachers Health Fund is hoping to change with a new foundation and the help of a leading Newcastle research institution.

    Teachers Health Fund Chief Executive Officer, Brad Joyce said mental health issues are a growing challenge for the education community with the demand for mental health services doubling over the past five years among younger members in the 24-29 age group.

    “The Teachers Health Foundation has been established to fund research into conditions teachers most commonly experience, such as mental health issues. As the only private health insurer exclusively for education, the Foundation is the Teachers Health Fund’s commitment to doing more for teachers,” explained Mr Joyce.

    Mental health issues not only place an increasing burden on the health care system they can result in the loss of teachers, place financial pressure on schools to find replacements and ultimately, negatively affect the quality educational experiences for school children and teacher-studentrelationships.

    “The Foundation aims to help us better understand the specific challenges teachers face as well as identify potential solutions,” said Mr Joyce.

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health is one of the first Teachers Health Foundation research recipients. They have been awarded a $50,000 grant to help fund research to better understand how relationships and peer support can positively impact early career teachers’ wellbeing, resilience and retention.

    “This research looks at how we can help one of the most vulnerable teacher groups – those who are just starting their career. They can face challenges such as self-doubt, time pressure and excessive workload which often results in burnout, emotional exhaustion and low levels of retention,” said Mr Joyce.

    Teachers Health Foundation grant recipient Dr Gavin Hazel from Hunter Institute of Mental Healthsaid evidence shows attrition rates for early career teachers in western countries is around 25 per cent – 40 per cent within the first five years.2

    “Through our research we hope to understand how positive relationships and guidance can lower levels of burnout, improve retention rates and increase job satisfaction.

    “We are aiming to improve the capacity of teachers, schools, and the education system to provide support to early career teachers’ wellbeing and recommend evidenced-based strategies to improve or strengthen their resilience and wellbeing,” he added.

    View the full media release here.

  • Mentally healthy children, mentally health adults: supporting our future

    Friday, 13 November 2015

    Media Release:

    The mental health and wellbeing of children and young people is important for community and economic development.


    HIMH rings logo

    On Monday 16th November, the Hunter Institute of Mental Health will host an array of high profile national leaders and experts to present at a Risk and Resilience Forum which aims to put the spotlight on the health and wellbeing of children, young people and families.

    We know from the recent Australian Child and Adolescent Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing that 1 in 7 children and young people between 4-17 years old will experience a mental health problem this year, equating to 560,000 children and adolescents in Australia.

    The Hunter Institute will be leading the national discussion on how we can put a focus on the health and wellbeing of children and families, and what might be done in the next ten years to change the statistics we are seeing in Australia.

    The full-day forum, supported by beyondblue, Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre and the NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in Mental Health and Substance Use will be attended by government, health, mental health, community and social services, researchers, policy makers and community leaders.

    The day will feature keynote presentations and a series of interactive panel discussions, highlighting the challenges that children and young people face today that impacts on their mental health and wellbeing, and ways we can address these challenges through a focus on social determinants, risk and protective factors and working across sectors.

    Jaelea photoHunter Institute of Mental Health Director, Jaelea Skehan says the forum will present a unique opportunity for national conversations to occur about the important issue of child, youth and family resilience.

    “If we want to achieve better outcomes for children, young people and families we must continue to aim higher and work collaboratively across sectors. This forum is a step towards building those networks and relationships.

    “With about 3 million children born in Australia over the next decade, we should all ask ourselves what we are going to do differently for them.”

    Among the impressive line-up of expert speakers, the Hunter institute has gained support from national and state-based mental health Commissioners, including the National Children’s Commissioner, Ms Megan Mitchell.

    “Resilience is an acquired art which helps us navigate the ups and downs of life, and to seek help when we need it.

    “This forum will provide an opportunity to explore how we can work together to equip children with the skills and information they need to live healthy, happy lives,” said Ms Mitchell.

    CEO of beyondblue, Georgie Harman said she is extremely pleased to be involved in a forum focusing on the mental health and wellbeing of children and their families.

    “To have resilient children who understand what mental health is, means we are preparing this generation of kids to become healthy and resilient adults who are able to deal with the ups and downs of everyday life,” she said.

    CEO of the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre, Associate Professor Jane Burns said: “Social networking should be considered in the same ways as schools: as settings that can build resilience, with an eye to reducing risk, enhancing respectful relationships and meaningful engagements.

    “We know that being socially connected is good for wellbeing. For the first time in history, technologies give us the capacity to create opportunities for our most vulnerable people to engage and build their resilience.”

    The Risk and Resilience Forum at the Merewether Surf House will be followed by an evening community forum at City Hall on child and family resilience, with well-known expert Dr Michael Carr-Gregg and Jane Burns, CEO of the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre.

    This event will focus on how we best support the mental health and wellbeing of children, young people and families, and the role technology can play in mental health and wellbeing.

    For information, resources and outcomes from the event visit www.himh.org.au/cyfresilience

    beyondblueyaw    CREMS logo 

  • Research survey: views and attitudes regarding communication about suicide

    Tuesday, 3 November 2015

    The Hunter Institute invites public relations and communication professionals to participate in a research project that is looking at the views and attitudes regarding communication about suicide in Australia.

    Within the suicide literature, there has been extensive research investigating the relationship between news reporting and suicide. This research has been used to develop evidence based recommendations regarding how to safely report on suicide. However, there has been very little research looking at the views and attitudes of public relations and communication professionals, nor their attitudes towards suicide more broadly. 

    To address this gap in our understanding, a team of staff from the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, (who manage the Mindframe National Media Initiative) are conducting a brief online research project, in collaboration with the University of Newcastle. This complements a recent study conducted with media professionals in Australia. 

    They are seeking participation from a range of Australian-based public relations and communication professionals (over 18 years) to complete a brief online survey (10 minutes). 

    The survey will gain from getting a range of views, therefore you do not need any prior knowledge relating to suicide to participate.

    Participation in this research is entirely voluntary and all responses will be maintained strictly confidential.
    At the end of the survey you can choose to enter your name into the draw to win one of ten $50 vouchers as a thank you for your contribution. 

    If you would like to participate, please click on the link below.

    https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/N5CYLLY


    If you require further information or have any problems concerning this study, you can contact:
    Jaelea Skehan  ph: (02) 4924 6900; Jaelea.Skehan@hnehealth.nsw.gov.au
    Dr Renate Thienel ph: (02) 4924 6943; Renate.Thienel@hnehealth.nsw.gov.au

     

     HIMH logo small       Media Logo       UoN

  • Hunter Institute supports international mental health and wellbeing

    Monday, 2 November 2015

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health provided resources to support the 2nd Mental Health and Well-being Conference held recently in Accra, Ghana. This included funding 25 students to attend the conference and workshops to improve the knowledge and skills of future health professionals in Ghana. 

    Ghana 1The annual conference facilitated by the Mental Health Foundation of Ghana provided opportunity for interaction between local Ghanaian mental health stakeholders and international experts and partners, including the University of Newcastle.

    The Foundation is a collection of Ghanaian mental health professionals and non-Ghanaian mental health clinicians, educators and academics from Australia, United Kingdom, Canada and Europe formed to support the Ghanaian Government’s mental health reform agenda. The government has enacted its first Mental Health Act this year and has also established a Mental Health Advisory Board. This is the first move towards protecting the human rights of mental health patients in Ghana.

    In support of the conference the Hunter Institute provided sponsorship for 25 mental health students to attend the event, an exciting opportunity for our organisation to become involved in mental health reform in a developing African country. The theme for this year’s conference was Dignity in Mental Health and covered a broad range of issues including capacity building, mental health promotion, social inclusion and mental health care.

    Ghana 2A representative from the University of Newcastle and member of the Mental Health Foundation of Ghana, Associate Professor Chris Kewley attended the conference at the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons and facilitated a number of keynote workshops, including a session with colleagues and students from the University of Health and Allied Sciences (Volta Region of Ghana) designed to consider the feasibility of developing a Ghanaian sensitive anti-stigma (NGO) program - Development of a Ghanaian Non-government Mental Health and Anti-stigma ‘Watch Dog’ Organisation and Strategy.

    To support this workshop, the Hunter Institute also provided resources from its Mindframe National Media Initiative in assisting the development of the program, based on the work of Mindframe and SANE Stigma Watch in Australia.

    Hunter Institute Director Jaelea Skehan was proud to be involved and support the international conference and the work of the University of Newcastle as a partnering organisation.

    “Mental health is a global issue. While we have much work to do here in Australia to improve our service systems, we have gained much knowledge that we can share with other parts of the world.

    “It was important for our organisation to think about how we can support global advancements in mental health as well as working locally and nationally here in Australia,” said Jaelea.

    For more information about the annual conference and the Mental Health Foundation of Ghana, visit http://www.mhfgh.org/

    Ghana 3 

  • Indie-rock outfit Arcades and Lions winners of YRBD for 2015

    Thursday, 8 October 2015

    Newcastle-based foursome Arcades and Lions showed the judges and the sell-out crowd just how loud they could roar, to take out this year’s Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog music competition at Lizotte’s Newcastle last night.

    Arcades and LionsThe unassuming indie-rock band was up against tough competition. However, it was Arcades and Lions energy, ambitious sound and great overall mix of songs that struck a chord with the judges and landed them with an EP recording package and live gig at the Cambridge Hotel in November.

    Arcades and Lions were also a hot favourite with the audience being voted the Best Self-Promoting Act on the night, winning a support spot with a nationally acclaimed touring artist through Lizotte’s Newcastle.

    Second prize was awarded to alternative rock-blues band Southern End, who will join the winning group for the live gig at the Cambridge Hotel and was awarded a cash prize and two-track recording. Acoustic folk duo My Friend Rupert put on a stellar performance to take out third place, also with a cash prize for the evening.

    Other awards on the night included:

    • Best Original Song -  acoustic Brother and Sister duo, ANXIE
    • Best Original Lyrics and Best Emerging Youth Act – country folk soloist, John Wallace
    • Encouragement Award - Laura Bradley with her debut act ‘It Doesn’t Matter If You Have A Disability’

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health congratulates Arcades and Lions on their win and all other musicians who competed at last night's Grand Final event. The atmosphere was electric and the performances were beyond outstanding.

    We would like to thank our partners headspace Newcastle and headspace Maitland, media partner intouch Magazine and venue partner Lizotte’s Newcastle for their support of Youth Rockin' the Black Dog for 2015.

    This year’s event also wouldn’t be possible without our sponsors: Musos Corner; EAO Entertainment; APRA AMCOS; Hazy Cosmic Jive Recording Studio; Benchmark Mastering; GT3D Animation Studio; Funky Lizard Studios; Big Apachee; National Music Academy; Ramsay Mental Health; Stacey Cross Photography; The Picture Cabinet Photography and Wilson Mining Services.

    For more information about Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog, visit: www.himh.org.au/yrbd or like Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog on Facebook for updates and photos: www.facebook.com/yrbdbandcomp

     

    YRBD 2015

  • Connections resource awarded Certificate of Commendation

    Tuesday, 6 October 2015

    Connections imageThe Connections resource has been awarded a Certificate of Commendation by The Mental Health Association NSW as part of their Mental Health Matters Awards 2015.

    Connections was awarded this certificate under the category of Mental Health Promotion & Wellbeing.

    Connections is a free, practical resource for early childhood educators about children’s mental health and wellbeing. The aim of the resource is to promote positive mental health outcomes for children, by supporting early childhood educators in their reflective practice and professional development.

    Connections was developed by the Hunter Institute of Mental Health in consultation with early childhood educators and was funded by the Australian Government through the Department of Education.

    This recognition for Connections emphasises the importance of the resource in supporting the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people. It also highlights the important and ongoing work of the early childhood education and care sector.

    Connections is free to download from www.himh.org.au/connections 

  • Youth rock out for mental health at YRBD Grand Final!

    Thursday, 1 October 2015

    YRBD GF 1Six local youth music acts will battle it out for Grand Final honours at the sixth annual Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog (YRBD) competition at Lizotte’s Newcastle next Wednesday 7th October.

    Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog aims to promote mental health and wellbeing among young people and raise community awareness through music. The competition is managed by Newcastle-based organisation the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, in partnership with headspace Newcastle and headspace Maitland.

    The stellar line-up for the Grand Final will include a mix of acts from the Newcastle area:

    • Tyler John, folk-pop soloist
    • Stuck in Tranzit, alternative rock band
    • Big Chief and the Bottle Openers, rock-punk band
    • My Friend Rupert, acoustic folk duo
    • Southern End, alternative rock-blues band
    • Arcades and Lions, indie-rock band

    The budding young musicians will set out to impress a panel of music industry and mental health guest judges on the night for the chance to take out the competition’s drawcard first place prize - a professionally produced and mastered three-track EP, with 500 pressed CDs and a professional live performance spot at the Cambridge Hotel in November.

    Guest judges for the 2015 YRBD Grand Final include Allon Silove Musos Corner and Director of 900 Studio; Steven Pickett EAO Entertainment; headspace Youth Reference Group member Bronte Taylor; and Brian Lizotte founder of Lizotte’s Newcastle.

    YRBD GF 3The competition has drawn support and sponsorship from intouch Magazine, Lizotte’s Newcastle and a range of local business and music industry sponsors, who believe the competition is great outlet for young people to express themselves and learn more about mental health and services available in the Hunter.

    Hunter Institute Director Jaelea Skehan believes the music competition provides a valuable learning opportunity for young people that fosters creativity and supports their mental health.

    “Given that 75% of mental illnesses emerge before the age of 24, there is no better time to get people talking about what keeps us mentally healthy and also breaking down the stigma associated with mental illness.

    “But it is more than getting young people involved in thinking about and talking about mental health. It is also about giving them an experience that enhances their overall wellbeing.

    “Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog is an event where young people are not just accepted for their differences and what they bring to the stage, but they are celebrated for it,” Jaelea said.

    The Hunter Institute has also encouraged all acts to bring along their loudest and proudest supporters on the night as the top act, voted by the audience, will receive a support gig with a nationally acclaimed artist at Lizotte’s Newcastle.

    Tickets to the Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog Grand Final event are available to purchase from Lizotte’s Newcastle, either online or by calling (02) 4956 2066. The event will be a sell-out, so get in quick so you don’t miss out!

    If you love your music and you like supporting local talent, come along to Lizotte’s Newcastle next Wednesday evening and experience the Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog Grand Final!

    Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog competition information and updates can be found at www.himh.org.au/YRBD or via the YRBD Facebook page at www.facebook.com/YRBDbandcomp.

    YRBD GF 2    YRBD GF 6YRBD GF 5    YRBD GF 4


     

  • National Blueprint for Mental Health and Wellbeing released

    Friday, 18 September 2015

    Mental illness is common in Australia and there is growing recognition of the important role that employers and industry can play in addressing this important health issue. As well as the impact on individuals, families and communities, mental illness also affects workplace productivity. 

    Last week the Minerals Council of Australia released a national Blueprint for Mental Health and Wellbeing. This Blueprint provides a framework to promote wellbeing, as well as reduce the risks and impacts of mental illness. It identifies key directions for the industry and recommends evidence-based strategies which can be applied at company and site level.

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health was pleased to partner with the University of Newcastle and the Minerals Council of Australia to develop the Blueprint, which aligns well to our recently released Prevention First Framework.

    We urge all industries and workplaces to consider developing a framework to support the mental health and wellbeing of their staff and communities.

    A copy of the Blueprint can be downloaded here

    An adapted blueprint for the Chamber of Minerals and Energy in Western Australia is available here  


     

    Cog National Blueprint

     

  • Stuck in Tranzit rated 'top dog' in YRBD Heat Three for 2015!

    Thursday, 17 September 2015

    Stuck in Tranzit

    The line-up was massive and the competition fierce, but the guest judges were unanimous in awarding the top score to punk rock outfit, Stuck in Tranzit in the final live heat of Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog 2015 last night.

    The young band of five members put on an electric performance, reminiscent of Newcastle’s original high energy punk rock music scene, and will definitely be a band to watch in the near future.

    Five-piece indie band Throw Me to the Wolves from Newcastle secured their very own LIVE & LOCAL gig at Lizotte’s Newcastle as winners of the Best Self-Promoting Act for the evening, voted by another great audience of 115 guests. 

    As part of the night’s proceedings, audience members were also treated to a special performance by young rap artist Laura, aka It Doesn’t Matter if You Have a Disability, who’s performance delivered a powerful message of encouragement in the face of adversity as she confronted her fears of performing live.

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health would like to congratulate and thank all of the acts who participated in the final heat last night at Lizotte's Newcastle. The performances were again incredible, and we are looking forward to announcing the six Grand Finalists next Friday 25th September - make sure you follow YRBD on Facebook for details!

    For more information about the top scoring act Stuck in Tranzit visit: https://www.facebook.com/Stuckintranzit

    For more information about Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog, visit: www.himh.org.au/yrbd or like Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog on Facebook for updates and photos: www.facebook.com/yrbdbandcomp

    Stuck in Tranzit 

  • My Friend Rupert scores top marks in YRBD Heat Two for 2015!

    Thursday, 10 September 2015

    YRBD Heat 2


    Acoustic folk duo My Friend Rupert, stepped up to the challenge to take out Heat Two of the Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog music competition last night at Lizotte’s Newcastle.

    In front of another sell-out crowd of 130+ people, the young Newcastle-based duo who formed in 2014, mesmerised the audience and the guest judges with their eclectic sound and exciting mix of original songs.

    David Hess from Musos Corner, local musicians Gleny Rae and Codi Kaye, and headspace Youth Reference Group member Nicola Dean were highly impressed with the calibre of young local talent during last night’s heat.

    The scores were very close, but it was My Friend Rupert’s unique sound and polished performance that saw them take out the top score.

    The Best Self-Promoting Act for the evening, judged by the audience, was awarded to four-piece indie-rock outfit Arcades and Lions, who packed the room with supporters to secure their very own LIVE & LOCAL gig at Lizotte’s Newcastle.

    The final heat - Heat 3 of Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog will take place next Wednesday 16th September, and will feature a massive line-up not to be missed:

    • John Wallace
    • Apocalyptic Crusade
    • Stuck in Tranzit
    • It Doesn't Matter If You Have a Disability
    • Throw Me To The Wolves
    • Southern End
    • The Wild Side
    • The Flaming Arrows

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health would like to congratulate and thank all of the acts who participated in Heat Two last night. The performances were phenomenal and we are looking forward to our final heat week!

    For more information about the top scoring act My Friend Rupert visit: https://www.facebook.com/myfriendrupert

    For more information about Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog, visit: www.himh.org.au/yrbd or like Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog on Facebook for updates and photos: www.facebook.com/yrbdbandcomp

    YRBD Heat 22

     

  • R U OK?

    Thursday, 10 September 2015

    RUOKWSPDTileR U OK? Only three little words, or just four letters, depending on which generation you are from.

    Today is R U OK? Day, a national day of action dedicated to reminding us to check in regularly with family and friends.  Today is also World Suicide Prevention Day, with this year's international theme of Preventing Suicide: Reaching Out and Saving Lives.  Today encourages Australian's to speak up to reduce the stigma around talking about suicide prevention safely.  It is also about standing up to make a positive impact on our mental health and wellbeing and being aware of the support services available.

    R U OK? It sounds simple enough right? But how often have we put off a phone call or cancelled a coffee date because of our busy lives. 


    When life is busy, it is nice every now and then to get a reminder to slow down and make time.

    R U OK? Day is about strengthening our relationships and bridging the gap between caring about someone and letting them know that you are there for them when they need it.

    Everyone can take part in R U OK? Day and the first important step is to ask R U OK?

    But don’t ask it in a way that makes people feel they have to say “fine”. Ask it in a way that the person can answer honestly and be ready for the response. 

    Sometimes people are fearful of asking R U OK because they feel ill-equipped if the answer is “no, I’m not”.
    The truth is, you don’t need to be a trained professional or an expert to support someone going through a tough time. You just need to be able to listen to their concerns without judgement and to take the time to follow up with them.

    So, here are the four steps to asking R U OK?

    KH RUOK? Step one: Start the conversations - ask R U OK?  To be honest, use any words that you feel comfortable with.

    Step two: Listen without judgement and don’t try and solve the problem.  Just be there.

    Step three: Encourage action, whether that is telling someone else or making an appointment with their doctor or getting more information from a service online.

    Step four: Follow up. Check in with them again tomorrow at work or put a note in your diary to call them in one week.

    So, if there is someone that you have been thinking about and wondering how they are going - ring them, email them, see if they want to catch up for a coffee or a walk.

    Our connection to others is what builds us up and keeps us strong.  Having people sit beside us when times are good and when times are bad can make all the difference.
    And if you are not OK, make today the day you tell someone. Talk to a trusted friend or contact one of the many services who are ready to listen. 

    RUOK Girls



    For more information on R U OK? Day, go to www.ruokday.com 

    For more information on World Suicide Prevention Day, go to www.wspd.org.au

    For practical resources on talking about suicide, go to www.conversationsmatter.com.au

    Services you can talk to today and everyday:

    Lifeline 13 11 14 – www.lifeline.org.au
    Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467 - www.suicidecallbackservice.org.au
    Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800 - www.kidshelp.com.au
    Headspace - eheadspace.org.au  


     

     


     

  • Tyler John takes out YRBD Heat One for 2015!

    Thursday, 3 September 2015


    YRBD pic 1

    Tyler John put on a flawless performance to a sell-out crowd of 115 people last night to be rated the top scoring act of the Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog Heat One at Lizotte’s Newcastle.

    The Newcastle based folk and pop singer/songwriter wowed the crowd with an energetic show including some of his best original songs exploring themes of identity, growth, friendship and love. Having previously spent most of his time busking the streets and uploading his covers to Youtube and Facebook, last night Tyler revealed he also has great onstage talent by delivering a fantastic show.

    The panel of guest judges which included David Hess from Musos Corner, young local artist and 2014 grand finalist Codi Kaye and headspace Newcastle’s Youth Reference Group member Nicola Dean, were blown away by the talent on display last night, but were particularly impressed with Tyler John’s polished performance.

    The Best Self-Promoting Act for the evening, judged by the audience, was awarded to Big Chief and the Bottle Openers, securing their very own LIVE & LOCAL gig at Lizotte’s Newcastle. The award is new to Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog in 2015, and aims to encourage and challenge young acts to get savvy with self-promotion and gather their loudest and proudest supporters for their performance.

    Heat Two of Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog will take place next Wednesday 9th September, and will feature the following line-up:

    • My Friend Rupert
    • SOAR
    • Arcades and Lions
    • Split Feed
    • WSA
    • ANXIE
    • Capital Industry

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health would like to congratulate and thank all of the acts who participated last night. The showcase of young local talent was remarkable and we are looking forward to next week’s heat!

    For more information about the top scoring act Tyler John and all the acts who competed in Heat 1, visit: www.himh.org.au/yrbdliveheats2015

    For more information about Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog, visit www.himh.org.au/yrbd or follow on Facebook at www.facebook.com/yrbdbandcomp

     

    YRBD pic 2

     

     

     

     

  • Youth Rockin' the Black Dog heats up for 2015!

    Friday, 21 August 2015

    Young musicians from the Hunter are gearing up for the first of three Live Heats as part of the sixth annual Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog (YRBD) music competition. 

    The first event on Wednesday 2nd September at Lizotte’s Newcastle will feature a mix of young bands, duos and soloists all vying for a place in the Grand Final to win a fantastic range of prizes, including a professional EP recording package.

    Managed by the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, in partnership with headspace Newcastle and headspace Maitland, YRBD is a launching platform for young emerging acts as well as an important means for encouraging young people to think and talk about mental health issues. 

    The events welcome audiences of any age and aims to promote local and national youth mental health support services.

    The line-up for YRBD Heat 1 includes:

    • Folk pop soloist Tyler John from Newcastle
    • Folk pop soloist Jacinta Portelli from Newcastle
    • Folk pop soloist Alexandra Rose from Newcastle
    • Folk pop country soloist Finnian Johnson from the Hunter region
    • Four-piece rock outfit Roxferry from Port Macquarie
    • Rock Punk trio Big Chief & The Bottle Openers from Newcastle

    For biographies and links to music, please visit: www.himh.org.au/yrbdliveheats2015

    Heats 2 and 3 of the competition will take place on Wednesday 9th and 16th of September. Follow YRBD on Facebook for further competition announcements www.facebook.com/yrbdbandcomp

    Entry fee for all Live Heats is $5.00 per person, with seats available at the door or you may pre-purchase by contacting Lizotte’s Newcastle on 4956 2066.

    Clear your diary now for Wednesday 2nd September as you won’t want to miss the first heat – you’re guaranteed to be impressed!

     

    YRBD Heat 2.3  In Motion

    Montagu  Euphorium

    Codi Kaye  The Moving Stills

    Images L to R: 2014 Grand Finalists Pacefaint (winners), In Motion (2nd place), Montagu (3rd place), Euphorium, Codi Kaye and The Moving Stills.  

  • Young musos given opportunity to learn from Newcastle’s best

    Tuesday, 18 August 2015

    Budding young musicians in the Hunter have been given the chance to attend a FREE one-day professional development songwriting workshop from the National Music Academy, as part of this year’s Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog (YRBD) music competition.

    YRBD Heat 1.4The workshop will take place on Saturday 5th September and is open to young musicians aged 12-25 years. Participants will learn how to develop a song, write lyrics and be provided with a variety of tools to assist with becoming a professional artist.

    Award-winning Newcastle-based singer-songwriter Amy Vee will also make a guest appearance at the workshop to talk to participants about her own musical journey and share ways that she looks after her mental health.

    “Music means a lot to young people - it’s a way for them to express themselves and feel connected, which itself can lead to improvements in mental health.

    “I’m particularly excited to educate young musicians on what I’ve learnt as a songwriter over the years and hope to encourage them even further to pursue a career in the music industry,” said Amy.

    YRBD is an annual music competition designed to raise awareness of youth mental health issues and support positive mental health among young people in the Hunter and surrounding regions.

    The competition is managed by the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, in partnership with headspace Newcastle and headspace Maitland.

    The songwriting workshop has been sponsored by the National Music Academy with funding from APRA AMCOS in support of YRBD and emerging young talent in the Hunter area.

    Registrations to attend the songwriting workshop are now open, with more information available at www.himh.org.au/yrbdsongwriting.

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health would like to acknowledge the support of its 2015 YRBD Official Media Partner, intouch magazine and Venue Partner, Lizotte’s Newcastle.

    NationalMusicAcademyLogo     APRA 


     

  • Hunter Suicide Prevention Collaborative announced today

    Thursday, 13 August 2015

    Working together to change lives:
    Hunter Suicide Prevention Collaborative announced today

    Today the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, and other organisations and services in the Hunter, announced their intention to work together to better coordinate suicide prevention activities across the region.

    The announcement was made at a breakfast event featuring international guest Dr Navneet Kapur, CEO of Suicide Prevention Australia Ms Sue Murray, and the Director of the Hunter Institute of Mental Health Ms Jaelea Skehan.

    In announcing the Hunter Suicide Prevention Collaborative, Jaelea Skehan said that it was important that suicide prevention was planned and delivered at the regional level.

    “Everyone has a role to play in suicide prevention, but action is most effective when it is planned and coordinated with a focus on the needs of the local community and its people.

    “Suicide is an issue that affects every community across Australia and the Hunter is no exception. It is encouraging to see a willingness among local services to work together to improve the way we respond across the region,” said Ms Skehan.

    NavbreakfastThe Hunter Suicide Prevention Collaborative is being formed to capitalise on work that a group of local organisations has been doing behind the scenes for the past three years. 

    “We have seen a real willingness for services to work together locally including health services, research, NGOs, youth mental health, emergency services, primary care, forensic medicine and local councils,” continued Jaelea Skehan.

    In facilitating the events on Thursday morning, Sue Murray applauded local services saying that the work already done here in the Hunter will mean the local community is ready for any future changes to how suicide prevention activities are funded and coordinated.

    “The National Mental Health Commission recently recommended to Government that while national leadership for suicide prevention was required, that action should be coordinated and delivered at the regional level.”

    “The Hunter has done so much already, but it is great to see the local commitment to collective impact. When we coordinate our responses and use the strengths of the local community, we have a greater chance of changing lives for the better,” said Ms Murray.

    For more information about the Hunter Suicide Prevention Collaborative announced today, visit www.himh.org.au/home/our-programs/special-projects/hunter-suicide-prevention-collaborative/_nocache

  • HIMH to feature at International Mental Health Conference 2015

    Wednesday, 12 August 2015

    IMHC logo

     

    Staff from the Hunter Institute of Mental Health will be showcasing a range of projects and resources at the 16th International Mental Health 2015, which kicks off today at the QT Hotel, Surfers Paradise.

    The conference theme “Mental Health Future For All” will focus on the broad spectrum of mental disorders and is designed to challenge, inspire, demonstrate and encourage conference participants while facilitating discussion.

    Key presentations during the conference include:

    • Building the capacity of early childhood educators to engage in mental health promotion, prevention and early intervention
      Presented by Dr Gavin Hazel, Program Manager
      Friday 14 August, 9:32 – 10:02am

    Educators recognise and value their role in promoting children’s mental health and supporting those children with additional needs. To support educators in this important task a practical, evidence-based resource called Connections has been developed. Through Connections, educators are supported to engage in reflective practice, professional development and to build their capacity across five areas of practice: partnerships, professional practice, environment, social and emotional development and early intervention.

    • Conversations Matter when supporting communities to talk about suicide
      Presented by Tegan Cotterill, Projects Coordinator
      Friday 14 August, 11:00 – 11:30am

    Conversations Matter supports one-on-one and group discussions with each resource available in three different formats: online presentation, fact sheet and audio podcast. The Hunter Institute has employed the same conceptual framework to develop specific resources for professionals engaging with communities around suicide. This paper will be the first time these professional resources are presented and will provide an overview of current plans for dissemination and professional development across a range of community settings.

    • The Child Illness Resilience Program: Promoting the wellbeing and resilience of families living with childhood chronic illness
      Presented  by Ellen Newman, Projects Coordinator
      Friday 14 August, 2:02 – 2:32pm

    The Child Illness and Resilience Program (CHiRP) is a mental health promotion intervention initiative which has recently been piloted in the Hunter. CHiRP supports families to develop their resilience, communication and wellbeing through a suite of free resources which use strength-based strategies. Parents are encouraged to complete the activities with their family, which focus on helping them identify strengths, skills and sources of support.

    In addition to the above, two posters will be presented and made available to delegates for the duration of the conference. Poster abstracts include:

    • Hunter Institute of Mental Health: Inclusive practice in a project based environment
    • Supporting safe online communication about suicide

    Project Coordinator, Ellen Newman will also chair the ‘Child, youth and family mental health services’ session on Friday 14 August, 9:00 – 10:35am.

    Conference delegates are encouraged to learn more about the range of programs and projects managed by the Hunter Institute of Mental Health by visiting the organisation’s exhibition booth during the conference. Staff will be on hand to provide information and resources, and answer any questions.

    For more information about the conference, please visit: http://www.anzmh.asn.au/conference/

  • Privileged visit from NSW Governor

    Wednesday, 5 August 2015

    The staff at the Hunter Institute of Mental Health were pleased to host a visit from His Excellency General The Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Ret’d), Governor of New South Wales and Mrs Hurley yesterday. 

    In the meeting the Governor was joined by Dr Martin Cohen, Acting Chief Executive Hunter New England Local Health District, Hunter Institute of Mental Health Director Jaelea Skehan and our Senior Management Team.

    The visit was a great opportunity to talk about the Hunter Institute’s local, national and international work in mental health and suicide prevention. It was good to see the Governor interested in learning about their programs and both these important areas of work.

    For more information about the Hunter Institute, visit www.himh.org.au

    NSW Governor photo

     

  • Free registrations now open for Partners in Mining

    Monday, 3 August 2015


    Partners in Mining logo


    Partners in Mining
    is a free, confidential information and support program available for people currently working (or who have formerly worked) in the Hunter mining industry and their families, who know or support someone experiencing problems with their mental health.

    Mental illness affects almost half of the Australian population at some point in their lives. In the NSW Mining industry, it is estimated that between 8,000 and 10,000 people experience mental illness in any 12-month period.

    For those working in the mining industry, there are a number of risk factors that increase the likelihood of someone experiencing psychological distress, not limited to long work hours or shift work, perceived job insecurity, high job demand, lack of social networks, itinerant work (e.g. fly-in-fly-out), or retrenchment.

    Based on the nationally disseminated Partners in Depression program, Partners in Mining is specifically designed to be relevant and appropriate for mine workers and their families, and is an initiative of the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, in partnership with Coal Services Health and funded by Coal Services Health and Safety Trust.

    Nicola Ingold, Program Manager of the Families, Workplaces and Targeted Prevention team at the Hunter Institute of Mental Health says just as mental health problems can strike at any time, anyone may find themselves in a supportive role – looking after a friend, partner, child, parent, relative or colleague battling some kind of psychological distress.

    “Many people in a support role don’t consider themselves a carer, instead seeing this to be part of their job as a parent, partner or workmate. Sadly, this can make their role invisible to governments, communities, workplaces or even their own families and friends.

    “While there are many positive aspects of such a role, the demands of supporting someone experiencing problems with their mental health can be overwhelming. Supporters may feel isolated and reluctant to prioritise their own needs, and research shows that they are at greater risk of developing anxiety, depression and stress themselves,” says Mrs Ingold.

    Ingold said that providing information and support to the family members and friends of mine workers to better manage their role, provides a real opportunity to improve the wellbeing and quality of life of mining families, and also significant potential benefits for the workplace.

    “For every worker in NSW who experiences a problem with their mental health, there is likely to be another worker who is providing care and support for a family member who is experiencing depression, anxiety or a substance use problem.

    “We know from the National Evaluation of the Partners in Depression program, that people providing care and support for someone are more likely to also experience problems with their own mental health and wellbeing. With the provision of information, support and skills, people in caring roles can have this risk to their own health and wellbeing reduced,” Ingold said.

    The Partners in Mining program will be delivered by CS Health in the Hunter between August and November this year and registrations are open now.  To register, or for more information, please contact the Hunter Institute of Mental Health on (02) 49 246870 or visit www.partnersindepression.com.au/mining

  • Hunter Institute to showcase key national projects at NSPC15 in Hobart

    Friday, 17 July 2015

    National Suicide Prevention Conference 2015 logoStaff at the Hunter Institute of Mental Health are preparing to showcase key national projects at the upcoming 2015 National Suicide Prevention Conference in Hobart.

    The conference titled ‘Changing Systems, Changing Lives’, is hosted by Suicide Prevention Australia from Sunday 26 to Wednesday 29 July.

    The event will provide a platform for the exchange of ideas and will focus on the intersection of suicide prevention research, policy, practice and lived experience.

    Hunter Institute of Mental Health Director, Jaelea Skehan will co-facilitate a media master workshop on Media Messages for Suicide Prevention, alongside Professor Jane Pirkis, University of Melbourne, Dr Karolina Krysinska, Black Dog Institute, University of New South Wales and Dr Maria Ftanou, University of Melbourne on Tuesday 28th July, 10:30am – 12:35pm.

    Jaelea Skehan presenting photoThe interactive workshop will consider the theory and practice of developing suicide prevention messages that could be used in media campaigns.  It will draw on theories of social marketing and behaviour change, discuss ways of communicating with various at-risk groups, and provide examples of suicide prevention community service announcements (CSAs) that have been aired around the world.

    Over the course of the four-day program, staff will also be on hand at a trade display featuring resources and information from the range of projects and programs managed by the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, including Response Ability and Partners in Mining.

    The work of Mindframe National Media Initiative, which is managed by the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, will also be highlighted during the conference. Details include:

    • Pre-Conference Workshop - Sunday 26 July, 10.00am - 1.00pm
      Engaging and Supporting Communities to Discuss Suicide
      Facilitators: Alexandra Culloden and Tegan Cotterill


    • Concurrent presentation – Tuesday 28 July, 12:10pm – 12:35pm
      Developing Resources to Support Conversations about Suicide in Aboriginal Communities.
      Presenter: Alexandra Culloden

    For further information about our workshops and presentations, please visit the conference website: http://suicidepreventionaust.org/conferences/index.html


     


     

     

     

  • Response Ability celebrates 18 year milestone

    Friday, 17 July 2015

    RA logo_UPDATEDThis year the Response Ability programme is celebrating 18 years of preparing Australia’s future teachers and early childhood educators in supporting the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people.

    Response Ability
    is Australia’s only customised, evidence-based pre-service teacher education mental health promotion programme.

    Response Ability was developed and implemented by the Hunter Institute of Mental Health (HIMH) in 1997, and continues to be a key initiative of the organisation today. For the last 18 years, the programme   has received ongoing funding from the Australian Government Department of Health.

    Response Ability aims to increase the inclusion of mental health and suicide prevention content in the pre-service education of teachers and early childhood educators. It does this by providing free, specialised resources and practical support to universities and Registered Training Organisations across Australia.

    Today, Response Ability is launching two new resources – one for the University sector and one for the VET/RTO Sector.

    Check out these innovative resources below:

    University Resource – a video lecture on Promoting student resilience and wellbeing, and responding to mental health needs. You can access ithere: www.responseability.org/universitylecture

    VET Resource – a video package on Brain development for wellbeing. You can access it here: www.responseability.org/VETlecture

    To find out more, visit www.responseability.org  and the Hunter Institute of Mental Health at www.himh.org.au

  • Premier Hunter youth music comp opens for registrations

    Tuesday, 14 July 2015

    A3 YRBD PosterRegistrations are now open for the sixth annual youth music competition that also raises awareness of mental health issues for young people in the Hunter, Central Coast and surrounding regions.

    The Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog (YRBD) competition is open to those aged between 12 and 25 years. Young bands and solo artists from all genres are eligible to enter this exciting music competition which aims to encourage young people to get thinking and talking about mental health issues with friends, family and networks.

    YRBD is managed by Newcastle-based Hunter Institute of Mental Health, in a partnership with headspace Maitland and headspace Newcastle. The event includes three live evening-heats during September, followed by a Grand Final event where six young finalists battle it out in October 2015 (during Mental Health Month).

    Acts will be judged by local music representatives and mental health professionals. A range of prizes are also up for grabs in this year’s competition.

    Folk-rock songstress and YRBD coordinator Kim McNaughton said the competition uses music to engage young people and to get them thinking about mental health issues.

    “As well as providing opportunities for young acts, it lets young people know that it’s ok to talk about these issues, and to seek help early if they need it.

    “Music is a great way to connect with others and I am looking forward to this year’s competition and the talent that will come out of it,” said Kim.

    Community Development Officer Byron Williams from headspace Newcastle believes that music is an extremely important element of expression for young people – for ALL people!

    “You can say things in music that you might struggle to express in a face-to-face conversation. How many songs are there about feeling lonely, break ups, struggling, bullying, missing people … there’s a whole genre called The Blues.

    “Music is a great way to start talking about mental health and YRBD is a great example of this,” said Byron.

    headspace Maitland service’s manager Felicity Scott considers the YRBD competition to be a successful and innovative approach to tackling young people’s mental health problems.

    “75% of mental health issues emerge before the age of 25. Therefore it is really important to be raising awareness about youth mental health. Music is an awesome medium to start the conversation and promote help seeking behaviour,” she said.

    Entries for the 2015 YRBD music competition close on Friday 14th August, 5pm. Competition information, entry forms and updates can be found at www.himh.org.au/YRBD , or via the YRBD Facebook page at www.facebook.com/YRBDbandcomp.

     

    Below: Pacefaint 2014 Winners

    Pacefaint 1


     


     

     

     

     

  • New Publication: Promoting children’s resilience when a parent has a mental illness

    Tuesday, 14 July 2015

    Today the Children of Parents with Mental Illness (COPMI) national initiative has released their latest GEMS (gateway to evidence that matters) publication. GEMS are evidence-based research summaries and this issue focuses on promoting children’s resilience when a parent has a mental illness. It contains information on the impact of parental mental illness and practical ways to build resilience. The summary was written by Karen Stafford and Gavin Hazel, two of the staff at the Hunter Institute of Mental Health.  You can access it from the COMPI website:   www.copmi.net.au/images/pdf/Research/gems-edition21.pdf


    If you are interested in resilience and strategies for building family resilience visit the CHiRP website www.himh.org.au/chirp

  • Opinion: being mentally healthy is important to us all

    Thursday, 9 July 2015

    JaeleaWe all know that to keep a car going, we have to fill it with petrol, check the oil and water regularly and give the tyres some air. To see a bank balance grow, we need to make steady deposits. But how often do we take the time to reflect on whether we are giving ourselves what we need to flourish and live well?

    People in the region are invited to a free forum next week at Cessnock Leagues Club. The forum will focus on what everyone can do to build resilience, manage adversity and take care of their mental health. It will also include information about the role everyone can play in supporting the mental health of those around them - at home, at work, at school or at play.

    The forum will feature Craig Hamilton, ABC Broadcaster, author and mental health advocate who will talk candidly about life’s ups and downs and what it means to stay balanced, connected and well. 

    Being mentally healthy and living well is important to every single one of us. It’s about enjoying life and fulfilling your potential. It’s having the ability to cope with stresses and sadness, and it’s about being connected to those around us.

    Living a healthy life is also important to those recovering from mental illness and the friends and family that are involved in their lives. In this regard, Craig Hamilton is nothing but inspiring. It gives hope to those currently struggling, that life can and will be different in the future. 

    But it can be so easy for us to take our mental health for granted; to prioritise other things; to put it off until next week.

    So ahead of the forum, why not start thinking about what you can do this week to improve you own mental health by working through these ten tips for wellbeing developed by the staff at the Hunter Institute of Mental Health.

    • Tip 1: Get enough sleep and rest. Sleep affects our physical and mental health, but can be the first thing we trade in when we get busy or stressed.
    • Tip 2: Take time out for things you enjoy. Balance in life is important, so taking time out for things you enjoy can make a difference to how you think and feel.
    • Tip 3: Be active and eat well. Our physical and mental health is closely linked, so adding exercise and nutritious food every day can make us feel better.
    • Tip 4: Nurture relationships and connect with others. Our connection to others is what builds us up and keeps us strong.
    • Tip 5: Learn to manage stress. If you have trouble winding down or managing thoughts you may find relaxation, yoga or writing your feelings down helpful.
    • Tip 6: Get involved and join in. Being part of a group with common interests provides a sense of belonging so find out about sporting, music, volunteer or community groups locally.
    • Tip 7: Build your confidence. Learning improves your mental fitness and taking on a new challenge can build confidence and give you a sense of achievement.
    • Tip 8: Be comfortable in your own skin. Everyone is unique and should be celebrated. Know who you are and what makes you happy. 
    • Tip 9: Set realistic goals and deal with tasks one at a time. It is good to be specific when you set a goal to help keep you on track.
    • Tip 10: Reach out for help when you need it. Everyone needs support from time to time. Talking to a family member, a friend, your doctor or one of the many services available can make all the difference. 

    The forum will be relevant to everyone – individuals, carers, families, workplaces, schools, sporting clubs and other community groups.

    The event will be held on Wednesday 15 July at Cessnock Leagues Club from 6.30pm. It is free to attend, but people need to register online at www.stickytickets.com.au/27160 or call (02) 4930 9601 to reserve a seat.


     

    Being Well  

     

    Further information about mental health and wellbeing is available:

    By Jaelea Skehan, Director, Hunter Institute of Mental Health

  • Mindframe showcased to suicide prevention experts in the US

    Thursday, 2 July 2015

    Mindframe Logo


    Mindframe continues its short overseas promotion being showcased in the United States (US) this week to an audience of international suicide prevention experts.

    Jaelea Skehan, Director of the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, which manages the Mindframe National Media Initiative (Mindframe), last week presented on Australia’s international leadership of media reporting of suicide at the 28th World Congress for Suicide Prevention.

    Media reporting of suicide, the presentation of suicide in films and the role of social media in suicide prevention, were key themes of the conference held in Montreal, Canada, from 16 to 20 June.

    Following the conference in Montreal, Jaelea has been meeting with suicide prevention and media colleagues in Canada.

    This week, Jaelea crossed the border for meetings yesterday (July 1st) and today, with suicide prevention and communication leaders in Washington DC.

    On Wednesday, Jaelea presented a seminar on the Mindframe program to staff at the Suicide Prevention Resource Centre (SPRC). The event was also on a webcast to staff across the US and included information about key program components, learnings and outcomes over the 13 years the Australian Government funded NSPS program has been developed in Australia.

    Mindframe was highlighted by the World Health Organization in September last year for its education and training approach, which includes SANE Media Centre, that has seen an increase in both responsible reporting and the number of suicide-related stories.

    Today (US time), Jaelea will join a special meeting of the leaders of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention’s public awareness and education task force. 

    The leaders represent a range of health and media organisations, including the SPRC, Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE), the International Association of Suicide Prevention, Health and Human Services, Facebook and the Media and Entertainment industries.

     

    JS pic squareJaelea said: “The meeting today will be an opportunity to discuss current approaches to changing the conversation about suicide across both Australia and the US. It will also explore global partnerships to advance the work of both countries.

    “With advances in technology changing the way that media and community members connect and communicate, global partnerships and collaboration are more important now than they ever have been in the past.

    “We look forward to an update from the meetings and are ready to progress partnerships with the US and other countries,” added Jaelea.

    Jaelea can be followed on Twitter via @jaeleaskehan with updates also available via the Mindframe and Hunter Institute accounts @MindframeMedia and @HinstMH.

    Mindframe media app

     

  • Bulahdelah’s unique performance takes out MindPlay Grand Final 2015!

    Friday, 19 June 2015

    Bulahdelah 2015Year 11 students from Bulahdelah Central High School delivered an engaging performance on the issue of Orthorexia Nervosa to be awarded first prize at the MindPlay Grand Final event last night at the Hunter Theatre.

    Among the six outstanding performances, Bulahdelah shone by addressing a unique and complex issue in a compelling and informative way, which impressed the panel of judges.

    Hosted by the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, in partnership with headspace Newcastle and headspace Maitland, the MindPlay drama competition seeks to encourage Year 11 drama students from the Hunter and surrounding regions to develop portrayals of mental health issues that will improve community understanding, counter stigma and encourage young people to seek help.

    Hunter Institute of Mental Health Acting Director, Dr Gavin Hazel commended the students for their Grand Final winning performance:

    “Congratulations to Bulahdelah Central High School on their first prize win for 2015, and to all our finalists who presented with such skill and enthusiasm. 

    "Bulahdelah did a wonderful job of presenting a well-balanced, informative and very creative piece on a difficult issue that is not widely understood. I applaud them for raising this issue and highlighting how teachers and the school community can offer support," Dr Hazel added.

    Second place winners were Maitland High School with their performance ‘So You Want To Be a Teenager in 2015’. Third place was awarded to Hunter Valley Grammar School with their piece ‘Grin and Bare It’, focusing on the issue of anxiety, and Dungog High School took out the Maitland Gaol Encouragement Award for their piece ‘Flash Flood’.

    First, second and third place were awarded cash prizes, sponsored by Rotary Club of Newcastle Enterprise, headspace Newcastle and headspace Maitland.

    More information and photographs from the night will be made available in the near future. Please visit www.himh.org.au/mindplay or ‘like’ MindPlay on Facebook for updates: www.facebook.com/mindplaydrama

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health would like to take this opportunity to thank our MindPlay 2015 partners, headspace Newcastle and headspace Maitland for their support, and our competition sponsors Rotary Club of Newcastle Enterprise, Maitland Goal, GT3D Animation Studio, NCP Printing and Stacey Cross Photography.


    Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog 2015

    YRBD 2015During the MindPlay Grand Final event, the Hunter Institute of Mental Health’s Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog music competition was officially launched with a stellar performance by 2014 winners Pacefaint.

    Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog is a local youth music competition designed to raise awareness of mental health issues among young people. The competition encourages young people to get thinking and talking about mental health issues with friends, family and networks and aims to promote a range of local and national services available to support young people.

    Entries for this year’s competition are now open. For more information visit: www.himh.org.au/yrbd or ‘like’ the Facebook page www.facebook.com/yrbdbandcomp



  • Mindframe approach showcased at IASP Conference in Montreal

    Tuesday, 16 June 2015

    Jaelea     IASP Montreal 2015


    Hunter Institute of Mental Health Director, Jaelea Skehan will present on the work of the Mindframe National Media Initiative during her attendance at the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) Congress in Montreal this week.

    In its 28th year, the IASP World Congress will bring together researchers, practitioners and students from a range of disciplines around the world, to explore and discuss new discoveries and technologies in suicide prevention: www.iasp2015.com

    As a member of the IASP International Taskforce for Suicide and the Media, Jaelea will participate in workgroup meetings, plenary sessions and present as part of a symposium titled: “Media Recommendations: A Review of Their Use and Impact Internationally” on Thursday 18th of June 2015, between 16:30 and 18:00 (EDT UTC-04:00).

    To keep up-to-date with conference proceedings, insights and information live from Montreal, follow @MindframeMedia and @jaeleaskehan during the week #IASP2015.

     

     

     

  • MindPlay Grand Finalists announced!

    Monday, 1 June 2015

    The team at the Hunter Institute of Mental Health commend and thank all of the schools who auditioned for this year’s MindPlay drama competition.

    Our adjudicators had an extremely hard task in selected only six successful performances from the sixteen very creative and engaging pieces they witnessed last Friday at the Hunter Theatre.

    It is with great pleasure that we announce our 2015 MindPlay Grand Finalists:

    • Maitland High School
    • Lambton High School
    • Hunter School of Performing Arts
    • Bulahdelah Central School
    • Dungog High School
    • Hunter Valley Grammar School (group 2)

    Congratulations to our finalists! We wish you the best of luck in preparing for the Grand Final event and can’t wait to see your final performances.

    MindPlay Grand Final tickets

    The 2015 MindPlay Grand Final, featuring performances by our six finalists, will be held on Thursday 18th June at the Hunter Theatre, Broadmeadow.

    Tickets for the event can be purchased directly from the Hunter Theatre Box Office or online via: http://www.hspa.nsw.edu.au/ourschool.php?id=80

    Doors will open at 6:00pm for a 6:30pm start.

    For information about MindPlay, please visit www.himh.org.au/mindplay or ‘like’ MindPlay on Facebook for updates: www.facebook.com/mindplaydrama

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health would like to take this opportunity to thank our MindPlay 2015 partners, headspace Newcastle and headspace Maitland for their support, and our competition sponsors Rotary Club of Newcastle Enterprise and Maitland Goal.

  • Hunter Schools audition for MindPlay 2015

    Wednesday, 27 May 2015

    MindPlay LogoThis Friday 29th May, Year 11 drama students from sixteen registered schools throughout the Hunter and surrounding regions will take centre stage to audition for this year’s annual MindPlay competition.

    Managed by the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, in partnership with headspace Maitland and headspace Newcastle, the MindPlay competition aims to provide young people with an opportunity to safely put a voice to the mental health issues they may witness, hear about, or possibly even experience first-hand.

    This year, groups will showcase performances focused on dramatic portrayals of ‘Young people, schools, and mental health and wellbeing’. MindPlay Coordinator, Kim McNaughton said:

    “I’m looking forward to seeing how each of the groups interpret the theme this year as it is centred around issues that are important to young people in school communities and that the students may even have experienced or witnessed personally.”

    The sixteen schools registered to compete on Friday, at the Hunter Theatre Broadmeadow, include:

    • Toronto High School
    • St Phillips Christian College, Cessnock 
    • Gosford High School 
    • Swansea High School 
    • Warners Bay High School 
    • Rutherford Technology High School 
    • Newcastle High School 
    • Maitland High School 
    • Lambton High School 
    • Bulahdelah Central School 
    • Hunter School of the Performing Arts 
    • Dungog High School 
    • Kotara High School 
    • Kurri Kurri High School 
    • Hunter Valley Grammar School 
    • Tomaree High School

    Each performance will be adjudicated by a panel of judges on the day, with the six top scoring schools to compete in the MindPlay Grand Final held at the Hunter Theatre on Thursday 18th June.

    With only a few more sleeps to go, the team at the Hunter Institute of Mental Health wish students and teachers the best of luck in refining and preparing for what will be an exciting audition day!

    For information about MindPlay, please visit www.himh.org.au/mindplay or ‘like’ MindPlay on Facebook for updates: www.facebook.com/mindplaydrama 
     

     

     


  • Hunter Institute takes time to recognise National Sorry Day

    Tuesday, 26 May 2015

    Today is National Sorry Day, an event held annually on the 26th May to acknowledge the forcible removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children which resulted in the Stolen Generations.

    Since the first National Sorry Day in 1998, this date has provided a space to remember the hurt and trauma caused by these practices and work towards recognition and healing.

    National Sorry Day is a chance for individuals and organisations to reflect on the ongoing impact of these practices on the social and emotional wellbeing of Indigenous Australians.

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health recognises the continued inequality of health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people within Australia and is committed to closing the gap.

    For information about National Sorry Day visit http://www.nsdc.org.au/

    For information and resources about the Stolen Generations visit http://healingfoundation.org.au/

    Sorry Day

  • An opportunity to create positive change

    Friday, 8 May 2015

    MENTAL health difficulties in children and young people are all too common, with almost a quarter of children entering school being shown to be developmentally vulnerable on one or more domains identified by the Australian Early Development Census.

    It’s also important to note about half of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin before the age of 14.

     Mental health difficulties in childhood have been linked with a number of poor outcomes in adolescence and adulthood including educational problems, long-term behavioural problems and poor mental health later in life. In addition there are economic impacts for individuals, families and communities. In 2009 alone it was estimated that mental illness in people aged 12 to 25 cost $10.6billion, including $7.5billion in lost productivity and $1.4billion in direct health system costs. The need for preventative action in the early years is clear.

    Recently the long awaited National Mental Health Commissions Review on Mental Health Programs and Services was released. This report presents the Australian Government and the mental health sector with an opportunity to create lasting and positive changes in one of the most significant health issues facing Australians today–mental health.  

    The commission’s report makes 25 recommendations, one of which includes a requirement of “evidence-based approaches on mental health and wellbeing to be adopted in early childhood worker and teacher training and continuing professional development”. The recognition of this need and the hope for increased action marks an exciting time.

    If we want to enhance the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people, we need to find a platform on which to deliver evidence-based programs.

    It is estimated that over a million children attended an early childhood education and care service in 2013, and more than 3.69million children and young people attended school in years 2013 and 2014. Given the significant amounts of time children and young people spend in these settings, staff have the opportunity to greatly influence children’s development and wellbeing.

    As outlined in the commission’s report, if teachers and early childhood educators are to have a role supporting the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people, then they must be adequately trained and supported. The most effective and efficient means of preparing them is during their pre-service training at university and tertiary institutions.

    Work has been undertaken in the early childhood education and care sector with programs being available to pre-service teachers and early childhood educators.

    Australia is leading the field in these areas, and the Hunter Institute of Mental Health is proud to have implemented several programs.

    Gavin Hazel and Ellen Newman lead the Hunter Institute of Mental Health Child and Youth Team

    The opinion piece can also be viewed at www.theherald.com.au/story/3052642/opinion-an-opportunity-to-create-positive-change

  • Time to end stigma attached to mental illness

    Friday, 8 May 2015

    MORE than ever before, our media is opening up opportunities for individuals, families and communities to be part of a conversation about what being mentally healthy means and get a better understanding of the realities of living with mental illness.

    We know that four million Australians will experience mental illness this year alone. Many more of us will be affected as family members, friends, colleagues or school mates. No longer can we consider mental illness to be a fringe issue affecting only a few. In fact, it affects us all. 

    Some days I think we are making great progress. It is true that we now have workplaces, communities and health services more engaged and talking about how we can improve the mental health and wellbeing of all Australians.

    This is a positive move in the right direction – an important step forward.

    But then another tragic international media story comes along (this time the crash of a Germanwings plane into the French Alps) and we all take a big leap backwards.

    Whenever a disaster or significant event occurs, it’s perfectly understandable for people to try and make sense of it, to try and find ‘‘a reason’’ why it happened.

    But there is a difference between trying to make sense of a terrible situation, and making assumptions that can be very damaging.  Speculation about what caused an event and making assumptions about the role of mental illness isn’t just innocent commentary to the one in five Australians who live with mental illness.

    Further, when these tragic international media stories come along, it seems the only people invited to make comment on what is a very complex and tragic scenario are social commentators, politicians and the media.

    Where is the voice of the mental health sector when tragedies happen and we all jump to the conclusion that mental illness must be to blame (in this case, the mental health of co-pilot Andreas Lubitz)?

    Where is the calm, reasoned voice that reminds us all that, statistically, mental illness is a poor predictor of violent behaviour like this?  Where is the reminder that it is discrimination to suggest people living with mental illness should be screened out of the workforce?  And where is the voice that reminds us that creating a culture where people feel the need to hide their mental illness is bad for all of us?

    Last year, during mental health month, I shared the following interaction:

    I was speaking to a man who was surprised by the number of people living with mental illness. In his own words, he asked me: “If mental illness is so common, then why don’t I know anyone who has a mental illness?”

    He looked a little perplexed when I told him that he was asking the wrong question. I explained that a better question to ask was: “Why don’t any of your friends and family living with mental illness feel like they can tell you about it?”

    I told this story, not to single out this man, but as a reminder to all of us to start asking ourselves and the people around us the right questions.

    Why, after a decade of effort to increase awareness and knowledge about mental illness, do some people still return to work following an episode of mental illness to silence and averted gazes?

    Why do family and friends of those living with mental illness often sit at home with no one to talk to about how they are coping, while we cook food and check in on our friends with a sick child?

    Why do men and women of all ages who know that what they are thinking and feeling may be caused by mental illness feel unable to reach out and get help they need?

    The reality is, despite the progress we have made, the stigma of mental illness still exists. 

    And the discussions that have occurred in our media, on social media and indeed in our own homes this week have put us all a big step back.

    For the many in our community who live with depression and other forms of mental illness, I will leave you with a tweet I sent out a few nights ago: ‘‘People living with depression are welcome in my workplace, in my sporting club and indeed in my family.’’ 

    Jaelea Skehan is director of the Hunter Institute of Mental Health.

    This piece can also be viewed online at http://www.theherald.com.au/story/2989150/opinion-time-to-end-stigma-attached-to-mental-illness/

     

  • Action needed now for mental health reform

    Friday, 17 April 2015

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health has welcomed the release of the National Mental Health Commission’s Review of Mental Health Programmes and Services, and believes the recommendations made in the report should be met with direct action to deliver a much-needed ten year plan for mental health reform in Australia.

    Like many organisations and individuals, the Hunter Institute prepared two formal submissions as part of the review, contributed to broader sector submissions by Mental Health Australia and Suicide Prevention Australia, and attended meetings to provide information, insights and data as required.

    Hunter Institute of Mental Health Director, Jaelea Skehan said it was important that as a nation we think broadly about mental health reform.  

    “There is no doubt we need to change the service system in Australia – considering the needs of people with mental illness and their families, the preference for community-based care and the opportunities that technologies provide if they are properly integrated into the system.

    “But we must have a vision for Australia that not only includes better treatment of mental illness but also includes reducing the onset of mental illness. This means addressing known risk factors and intervening early.

    “Taking a prevention approach is essential in addressing the mental health needs of all Australians- young and old and it is encouraging to see more commitment to this in the Commission’s recommendations.

    “A focused attention on the early years, a commitment to stigma reduction, prioritising workforce development (including pre-service approaches), and a commitment to regionally based approaches in mental health and suicide prevention are all a step in the right direction,” she said.

    The Hunter Institute welcomed Minister for Health, The Hon Sussan Ley’s acknowledgment that the “mental health sector must also play a direct part in the development of any policies and work
    hand-in-hand with Governments to develop a national approach.”

    But the sector as a whole, including this organisation, is ready to act now.

    “While setting up a COAG working group and expert reference group appears to be sound step in the reform process, many fear that further delays in direct action will lead to inaction” said Jaelea Skehan.

    “The mental health and suicide prevention sector has known for years what we need to change. What we are waiting for is national leadership and the will to make it happen.

    “Nobody thinks that reform and change will be easy, but there are many more organisations and individuals ready for the challenge than there are advocates for the status quo.”

    As Minister Ley said, this is a “once-in-a-generation opportunity for serious mental health reform in Australia” and the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, standing alongside our colleagues and communities are ready to make the most of that opportunity.

     

     

     

  • Director Jaelea Skehan on National Mental Health Review

    Wednesday, 15 April 2015

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health supports the call from Mental Health Australia for all Australian governments to embrace a decade of mental health reform following the leak of a summary of the National Mental Health Commission’s Review of Mental Health Programmes and Services.

    “The leaked summary on ABC’s 730 report last night gives the sector its first look at the broad recommendations from the National Mental Health Commission’s Review to achieve mental health reform in Australia,” said Jaelea Skehan, Director of the Hunter Institute of Mental Health.

    “It is positive to see these recommendations include a focus on prevention and promotion approaches, more than we have seen in recent years, with a specific focus on the early years, building the capacity of a range of workforces involved in mental health and a shift towards community based and person-centred service models.

    “It is also encouraging to see recommendations to better coordinate suicide prevention activities and address the stigma associated with mental illness – areas that the Hunter Institute has been committed to both locally and nationally,” she said. 

    Reforming our approach to mental health and suicide prevention must happen on a national and a local level. The Hunter Institute of Mental Health, the Hunter Medicare Local and many other public, private and non-government services are committed to working together on a regional level to implement the change needed to better support the mental health and wellbeing of our communities. 

    “On a local level, organisations have been working to get better linkages between services and set joint priorities to provide better responses to people in the local community,” Jaelea said. 

    “Having national leadership which sets targets for reform will assist in getting traction locally for initiatives we know will better meet the needs of the community.

    “We applaud the Commission’s call for a person-centred community approach, investment in prevention starting from the early years of life, and a commitment to regional approaches to suicide prevention and mental health care.”

    Minister Sussan Ley is due to meet with her State and Territory colleagues this Friday, which Jaelea believes, “will provide a great opportunity to show the leadership what is needed in this country, and call for a concerted national effort to fix the fundamental problems as identified by the Commission.
     
    “We need to put in place a 10-year reform strategy which sets clear targets and indicators to drive systemic change in the mental health system. 

    “We have done much talking about what needs to happen, but we must now turn our collective attention to how that is going to happen,” said Jaelea.

    The Hunter Institute is committed to our vision of reducing mental illness and suicide and improving mental health and wellbeing for all people in Australia. We will work with all levels of government, organisations locally and nationally as well as community members to ensure that vision can become a reality.

    The Hunter Institute looks forward to seeing the full report when it is released and working with the government and the broader sector to respond to recommendations put forward.


  • Multi-award winning playwrights stage free workshop for local students

    Friday, 10 April 2015

    Two of Australia’s leading playwrights are providing school students with a rare opportunity to learn about the fictional portrayal of mental illness as part of our youth mental health awareness initiative, MindPlay.

     

    SuzieCaleb 


    Acclaimed Australian/UK based playwright Suzie Miller and fellow established Australian playwriting talent Caleb Lewis, will facilitate a free full-day workshop on Tuesday 14th April at Maitland Gaol for Year 11 drama students in the Newcastle, Hunter and surrounding regions with the aim of giving budding playwrights a rare insight into script development.

    MindPlay, managed by the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, is now in its 19th year. The annual competition aims to engage school students in mental health issues, providing a creative platform for young people to safely put a voice to the mental health issues that they witness, hear about and possibly even experience first-hand at some point in their lifetime. 

    The competition encourages school groups to write, direct and perform a 15-minute play with a mental health theme, giving teens an opportunity to increase their understanding of mental illness, to promote mental wellbeing and to encourage help-seeking. The Hunter Institute will again partner with local headspace centres Maitland and Newcastle, and welcome Maitland Goal as a new sponsor for the playwriting workshop and 2015 competition.

    For more information about the playwriting workshop and 2015 MindPlay competition, please visit: www.himh.org.au/home/our-programs/community-media-and-arts-program/mindplay 

  • Time to end stigma attached to mental illness

    Thursday, 2 April 2015

    Whenever a disaster or significant event occurs, it’s perfectly understandable for people to try and make sense of it, to try and find ‘a reason’ why it happened. But there is a difference between trying to make sense of a terrible situation, and making assumptions that can be very damaging.

    Hunter Institute of Mental Health Director Jaelea Skehan wrote this opinion piece for the Newcastle Herald highlighting how comments around the Germanwings tragedy have seen us take “a large leap backwards” when it comes to addressing the stigma attached to mental illness. We need to fight stigma, not feed it!

     


    Opinion:

    More than ever before, our media are opening up opportunities for individuals, families and communities to be part of a conversation about what being mentally healthy means and get a better understanding of the realities of living with mental illness.

    We know that four million Australians will experience mental illness this year alone. Many more of us will be affected as family members, friends, colleagues or school mates. No longer can we consider mental illness to be a fringe issue affecting only a few. In fact, it affects us all.

    Some days I think we are making great progress. It is true that we now have workplaces, communities and health services more engaged and talking about how we can improve the mental health and wellbeing of all Australians.

    This is a positive move in the right direction - an important step forward.

    But then another tragic international media story comes along (this time the crash of a Germanwings plane into the French Alps) and it seems we all take a large leap backwards.

    Whenever a disaster or significant event occurs, it’s perfectly understandable for people to try and make sense of it, to try and find "a reason" why it happened. 

    But there is a difference between trying to make sense of a terrible situation, and making assumptions that can be very damaging. Speculation about what caused an event and making assumptions about the role of mental illness isn’t just innocent commentary to the one in five Australians who live with mental illness. 

    Further, when these tragic international media stories come along, it seems the only people invited to make comment on what is a very complex and tragic scenario is social commentators, politicians and the media themselves.

    Where is the voice of the mental health sector when tragedies happen and we all jump to the conclusion that mental illness must be to blame (in this case, the mental health of co-pilot Andreas Lubitz)? 

    Where is the calm reasoned voice that reminds us all that statistically, mental illness is a poor predictor of violent behaviour like this? 

    Where is the reminder that it is discrimination to suggest people living with mental illness should be screened out of the workforce? 

    And where is voice that reminds us that creating a culture where people feel the need to hide their mental illness is bad for all of us?

    Last year during mental health month I shared the following interaction:

    I was speaking to a man who was surprised by the number of people living with mental illness. In his own words, he asked me, “If mental illness is so common, then why don’t I know anyone who has a mental illness?”

    He looked a little perplexed when I told him that he was asking the wrong question. I explained that a better question to ask was, “Why don’t any of your friends and family living with mental illness feel like they can tell you about it?”

    I told this story, not to single out this man, but as a reminder to all of us to start asking ourselves and the people around us the right questions.

    Why, after a decade of effort to increase awareness and knowledge about mental illness, do some people still return to work following an episode of mental illness to silence and averted gazes? 

    Why do family and friends of those living with mental illness often sit at home with no one to talk to about how they are coping, while we cook food and check in on our friends with a sick child? 

    Why do men and women of all ages who know that what they are thinking and feeling may be caused by mental illness feel unable to reach out and get to the help they need? 

    The reality is, that despite the progress we have made, the stigma associated with mental illness still exists.  

    And the discussions that have occurred in our media, on social media and indeed in our own homes this week have put us all a big step back.

    For the many in our community who live with depression and other forms of mental illness, I will leave you with a tweet I sent out a few nights ago:

    People living with depression are welcome in my workplace, in my sporting club and indeed in my family  #fightstigma 


    Written by Jaelea Skehan, Director at the Hunter Institute of Mental Health.

    The article is also available via the Newcastle Herald website: http://www.theherald.com.au/story/2989150/opinion-time-to-end-stigma-attached-to-mental-illness/?cs=308
  • New Prevention Framework to support mental health of all Australians

    Thursday, 19 March 2015

    PreventionFirstToday marks the release of Prevention First: A prevention and promotion framework for mental health, an important plain language document that provides a new framework for strategic action to prevent mental ill-health and promote mental health and wellbeing for all Australians.

    Developed by the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, Prevention First is written for a broad audience and can be used across many sectors including governments, policy makers, health and mental health workers, as well as sectors that must be part of the national solution to mental health such as children’s services, education, business and more.

    Professor Patrick McGorry, Executive Director of Orygen, said it’s important to recognise the valuable role of prevention across the service system.

    “If we are going to transform mental health in Australia, we need a common language and a way that diverse sectors and service systems can work together to ensure that the preventive mindset is at the heart of everything we do,” he said.

    Prevention First outlines prevention and promotion as everybody’s business. It sets out ways of working that can prevent the onset of mental ill-health, prevent the severity and duration of mental ill-health, prevent the ongoing impact of mental ill-health and promote mental health and wellbeing.

    Frank Quinlan, CEO of Mental Health Australia, says the Framework will help the sector to build partnerships between health and non-health sectors.

    “Prevention and promotion approaches happen in the domains of everyday life. If we are going to work in partnership with other sectors, then we need a common framework that can turn our desire to prioritise prevention into coordinated action,” said Mr Quinlan. 

    Prevention First builds on existing models and policies developed here in Australia and overseas to develop a new conceptual framework for prevention and promotion activity, and a commitment to prevention of mental ill-health and promotion of mental health and wellbeing.

    Jaelea Skehan, Director of the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, says that the Australian community is interested in and engaged with mental health more than ever before.

    “The time is right to set a vision for mental health in Australia that involves not only the health sector, but all sectors and communities. Prevention and mental health is everybody’s business.

    “This Framework has been developed to clearly describe what is meant by prevention and promotion. We hope it sets a foundation for better cross-sector work that is so desperately needed in mental health,” she said. 

    Prevention First is designed to enhance and expand on state and federal policy documents developed over the past two decades.

    Ms Skehan said that the Framework is applicable to everyone, providing a structure for building partnerships, setting priorities and evaluating outcomes, adapting strategies for specific communities and issues, and building capacity.

    “Making a real difference to the mental health of Australians must involve breaking down the silos and looking for economies of effort across all sectors. Prevention and promotion approaches, by their nature, operate in a range of service settings so there is opportunity for meaningful partnerships and meaningful involvement from the whole of society.

    “This document would not have been possible without initial funding support from the NSW Ministry of Health and significant contribution from academics, clinicians, consumers, carers and many others in NSW and nationally,” said Jaelea.

    Watch our short video on the Framework here: www.vimeo.com/hinstmh/preventionfirst

    For further information, or to download a copy of the Prevention First Framework, visit www.himh.org.au/prevention

  • Hunter Institute staff march for equality at Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras

    Thursday, 12 March 2015

    Last weekend Hunter Institute of Mental Health staff marched with over 10,000 people as part of the 2015 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade.

    The parade and associated events celebrate the power and beauty of diversity, and for the past 37 years has aimed to raise the visibility of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) communities.

    The Hunter Institute recognises the disproportionate rates of mental illness within LGBTI communities and the impact of discrimination, homophobia and transphobia on individuals’ wellbeing. It is for this reason that we are committed to supporting events such as the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras and ensuring inclusive practice, acceptance and equality remain central to the work that we do.

    For more information about inclusive practice at the Hunter Institute click here

     

    Mardi Gras 1Mardi Gras 2

     


     

     

  • A significant day in Australia’s history

    Friday, 13 February 2015

    Apology

    On this day in 2008, former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd apologised on behalf of the nation for past laws, policies and practices that have impacted upon Australia’s First Nations Peoples, particularly members of the Stolen Generations.

    Today marks the seventh anniversary of the National Apology to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and is a significant day in Australia’s history. Staff at the Hunter Institute will today take some time to reflect on how generations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have been affected, and will continue to be affected, by the past policies of the Australian Government and the ongoing impacts of this on the mental health and wellbeing of Indigenous Australians.

    We acknowledge that the poorer health standards experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities today are the result of generations of loss, grief and discrimination experienced since colonisation and recognise that we have a responsibility in planning and delivering our programs across Australia to close the significant gap between the health outcome experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

    For more information on events and activities for National Apology Day 2015, visit:

    www.healingfoundation.org.au/community/the-apology/

    www.reconciliation.org.au/category/news/#the-personal-stories-behind-the-apology

    Transcript of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s speech:

    “I move:
    That today we honour the Indigenous peoples of this land, the oldest continuing cultures in human history.
    We reflect on their past mistreatment.

    We reflect in particular on the mistreatment of those who were Stolen Generations - this blemished chapter in our nation's history.

    The time has now come for the nation to turn a new page in Australia's history by righting the wrongs of the past and so moving forward with confidence to the future.

    We apologise for the laws and policies of successive Parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians.

    We apologise especially for the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, their communities and their country.

    For the pain, suffering and hurt of these Stolen Generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry.

    To the mothers and the fathers, the brothers and the sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry.

    And for the indignity and degradation thus inflicted on a proud people and a proud culture, we say sorry.

    We the Parliament of Australia respectfully request that this apology be received in the spirit in which it is offered as part of the healing of the nation.

    For the future we take heart; resolving that this new page in the history of our great continent can now be written.
    We today take this first step by acknowledging the past and laying claim to a future that embraces all Australians.

    A future where this Parliament resolves that the injustices of the past must never, never happen again.

    A future where we harness the determination of all Australians, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, to close the gap that lies between us in life expectancy, educational achievement and economic opportunity.

    A future where we embrace the possibility of new solutions to enduring problems where old approaches have failed.

    A future based on mutual respect, mutual resolve and mutual responsibility.

    A future where all Australians, whatever their origins, are truly equal partners, with equal opportunities and with an equal stake in shaping the next chapter in the history of this great country, Australia.”


     

  • Hunter Institute staff present at LIFE Think Tank workshops

    Tuesday, 10 February 2015

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health is proud to be involved with the LIFE Communications Think Tank series of suicide prevention workshops, which commence today in Melbourne.

    The free interactive sessions facilitated by On the Line will run during February and March in every Australian capital city. They aim to provide suicide prevention and mental health professionals with a unique opportunity to hear about initiatives, exchange knowledge and share ideas towards addressing current issues within the suicide prevention sector.

    Senior Project Officer Alexandra Culloden will discuss the work of the Mindframe National Media Initiative in promoting safe and responsible reporting of suicide in the media, as part of the opening workshop in Melbourne. She will be joined by SANE Australia’s Media Relations Manager, Robyn Thompson who will present on their StigmaWatch program, which aims to promote positive community understanding of mental illness through the media.

    Hunter Institute Director, Jaelea Skehan will travel to Hobart later in the week (Thursday 12 February) to present the suicide in the media session as part of the second workshop in the series.

    For a list of dates, locations and more information about the LIFE Communications Think Tank workshops, please visit www.livingisforeveryone.com.au/life-think-tank.html

    Want to learn more about suicide in the media and the Mindframe National Media Initiative?

    The following video features professionals from the media, mental health and suicide prevention sectors sharing their thoughts on working with Mindframe and using the resources for media professionals.

    MF video image

     

  • Registrations for MindPlay 2015 are now open!

    Thursday, 5 February 2015

    MindPlay Logo

     

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health is excited to announce that registrations for our annual MindPlay drama competition are officially opened!

    In its 19th year, the MindPlay competition aims to foster creativity and connection among students, while promoting mental health awareness and early help-seeking behaviours. The competition is open to Year 11 students located in the Newcastle, Hunter and Central Coast regions. Participants are required to develop and perform a 15-minute group dramatic piece based on a mental health theme.

    We are again proud to partner with our local headspace centres, at Maitland and Newcastle, to host MindPlay 2015. We also welcome Maitland Gaol as a new official sponsor for the competition.

    To get involved and register your interest, please visit our MindPlay Registration webpage, or like us on Facebook for regular updates: www.facebook.com/mindplaydrama

  • High profile experts put the spotlight on suicide prevention

    Thursday, 22 January 2015

    Today the Hunter Institute of Mental Health are holding two suicide prevention events at Newcastle City Hall with international suicide prevention expert Dr Mort Silverman.

    To deliver these events, the Hunter Institute partnered with the University of Melbourne, to bring suicide prevention expert Dr Morton Silverman out to Australia. As part of his visit from the United States, Dr Silverman is spending two days in Newcastle to speak at these events- the only events open to the public and stakeholders being held in New South Wales.

    The first sold-out event is a Seminar: Public Health Approaches to Suicide aimed at health professionals, services and community organisations.

    The second is a Community Forum on suicide prevention as a global, national and local issue with speakers Dr Morton Silverman (USA), Commissioner John Feneley from the NSW Mental Health Commission and Hunter Institute of Mental Health Director Jaelea Skehan. The forum is being facilitated by National Mental Health Commissioner, Lucy Brogden.

    Attendees of this evening’s forum will hear from local and international experts talking about what we know in suicide prevention and what we need to do next locally and globally. The forum will be relevant to a range of settings and services, including those working in schools, businesses, community services, health and emergency services and other networks. Stalls and other information from local and national services will be available at the event.

    Director of the Hunter Institute of Mental Health Jaelea Skehan says the event will focus on prevention and the important role that individuals, communities, health services and organisations can play in supporting themselves and each other.

    “Suicide prevention is everybody’s business. To make a difference in suicide prevention we need everyone involved- governments, health services, community services, businesses, communities and individuals.

    “It is an important time both nationally and locally for suicide prevention and it is a great opportunity for everyone to hear from someone who has been working in suicide prevention globally for 36 years,” she said.

    This event will bring together key stakeholders on national and local levels from a range of settings and services.

    Doors for the community forum will open at 5:30pm for a 6:00pm start at Newcastle City Hall, King Street Newcastle. A limited number of tickets are still available at www.stickytickets.com.au/22354.

    All community members are welcome to attend.

    If you missed Hunter Institute Director Jaelea Skehan’s opinion piece in the Herald yesterday on why suicide prevention must be a priority, you can read it here


  • Hunter Institute featured in National LGBTI Health Alliance ‘Champions of Inclusion Guide’

    Friday, 19 December 2014

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health is proud to be featured in the ‘Champions of Inclusion: A guide to creating LGBTI inclusive organisations’ released by the National LGBTI Health Alliance in November.

                                  LGBTI front coverLGBTI second image

    The Hunter Institute has been part of the Alliance’s MindOUT Champions project for the past 12 months. The Institute has now signed on for a further 12 months as a “mentor organisation” to those that have signed up to the next phase of the project.

    Since becoming a champion organisation, the Hunter Institute has worked in partnership with the Alliance and other mental health and suicide prevention organisations, to continue to support inclusive practice and to be more responsive to the needs of LGBTI communities.

    Key outcomes during the first 12 months of the project, have included the March 2014 being LGBTI Month at the Hunter Institute. Events included:

    • Institute staff joining the ReachOUT.com by Inspire float at the Sydney Mardi Gras parade on March 1st (pictured below).

    LGBTI image 1LGBTI image 2
     

    • Training and meeting with fellow champion organisations in Brisbane and internal training and workshop on LGBTI issues as part of the Hunter Institute's quarterly meeting for all staff and management.
    • The Hunter Institute also held a dinner event as part of the Mindframe for universities advisory group meeting which was themed on the mental health of LGBTI people and the role of media and communications. This event which was attended by educators from across Australia as well as media and local health organisations included guest speakers from the National LGBTI Health Alliance, ReachOUT.com by Inspire Foundation and JOY.94.9 Australia’s first and only gay and lesbian community radio station.

    LGBTI image 3

    Image 3: (L-R) HIMH LGBTI Champion Tania Ewin, National LGBTI Health Alliance Senior Project Officer Barry Taylor, ReachOut.com By Inspire Foundation Communications Officer Doug Millen, HIMH LGBTI Champion Alexandra Culloden and General Manager JOY.94.9 Conrad Browne.

    The Hunter Institute has also presented on its work as a Champion organisation at several conferences, including:

    • Australia’s first national LGBTI mental health and suicide prevention conference. 
    • Part of a panel session with the National LGBTI Health Alliance QLife project It Gets Better at the Journalism Education and Research Association of Australia (JERAA) conference in Sydney.

    LGBTI image 4

    Image 4: (L-R) HIMH Senior Project Officer Jenyfer Locke, HIMH LGBTI Champion Alexandra Culloden, QLife National Clinical Director Ross Jacobs and Mary Ann Romano, board member It Gets Better Australia

    To read more about the LGBTI Champions project at the Hunter Institute click here.

    To download a copy of the ‘Champions of Inclusion: A guide to creating LGBTI inclusive organisations’ click here.

     

     

  • Prevention of mental illness the priority

    Wednesday, 17 December 2014

    No longer can we consider mental illness to be a fringe issue affecting only a few. In fact, it affects us all.

    We know that one in five of us will experience mental illness this year alone.  Many more of us will be affected as family members, friends, colleagues or school mates.

    Three decades ago, Australia began to reform mental health care in earnest, with a move away from institutional care. But people living with mental illness, and the community at large, have felt let down as these reforms have never been realised when it comes to the way we have managed mental health as a health and community issue.

    With the formation of the NSW Mental Health Commission in 2012, our state once again embarked on setting a new vision for mental health and mental health services.  An important step towards that new vision was realised this week.

    On Monday morning, the NSW Premier Mike Baird stood with the Minister for Health Jillian Skinner, the Minister for Mental Health Jai Rowell and the NSW Mental Health Commissioner John Feneley to officially release a new strategic plan for mental health in New South Wales.

    The plan sets out directions for reform of the mental health system in NSW over the next 10 years and was developed following extensive consultation with individuals and services across the state.

    Unlike the release of mental health plans in other states, the NSW Premier announced $115million of additional funding to support the changes required.  This was surprising, but a welcomed announcement.

    What was even more welcomed than the money, in my view, was the promise to doing things differently. The Premier, the Ministers and the Commissioner all expressed the need to prioritise prevention approaches as part of this new vision.

    There is absolutely no doubt that we need system reform here in NSW, as we do nationally. We need new innovation in mental health care and we must focus on dismantling institutional and hospital-based care as the norm.

    Instead, we must ensure people get effective treatment and support when they need it, where they need it and in the formats that best meet their needs. This means embracing new models of care and embracing technology as at least part of the solution. It also means trusting NGOs and a peer workforce to deliver services.

    But we must also have a vision that includes less people developing mental illness in the first place. It must include more people living well so they don’t need the service system and especially don’t need the hospital system at all.

    There is no other area of health that we think only about treating the illness better, rather than working to prevent it. Mental health must have the same approach – where we prioritise prevention of illness to minimise the impact on individuals, families and communities.

    We have had the promotion of mental health and wellbeing and the prevention of mental illness written into every state and national policy document since about 2000 when we actually had our first good conversation about prevention of mental illness in Australia.

    But like so many things, words are not enough. We need to turn words into action.

    We know that investing in the promotion of mental health and wellbeing and the prevention of mental illness leads not only to a more efficient use of mental health resources, it has a flow-on effect for a range of services including general health care, drug and alcohol services, education, child and family services and the justice system.

    Not to mention that mental health and wellbeing is a basic human right. It is the foundation of a healthy society and a healthy economy.

    But historically it has been hard to sell the benefits of prevention activities to governments, when the full benefits of preventative approaches may not be seen for many years.

    We need to look at whole of life, not just wait for an episode severe enough to warrant a response when thinking about mental health.  An investment in prevention approaches allows for reach beyond the ‘walls’ of mental health services and programs.

    The time for talk is done and the time for action is now.  No plan is ever perfect, but this new Strategic Plan for NSW provides an opportunity for change. But to enact change, we need people to line up together and move it forward.

    Doing what we have always done is no longer an option.

    Living Well: A Strategic Plan for Mental Health in NSW 2014 – is available from http://nswmentalhealthcommission.com.au/our-work/strategic-plan

    Written by Jaelea Skehan, Director Hunter Institute of Mental Health.

  • International suicide prevention expert visiting Australia

    Monday, 15 December 2014

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health, in partnership with the University of Melbourne, is pleased to announce they will be bringing international suicide prevention expert Dr Morton Silverman out to Australia in January.
    As part of his visit from the United States, Dr Silverman will be spending two days in Newcastle with two events being announced today.

    Dr Morton Silverman photoDr Silverman has an expansive 36 years in the sector and has served an abundance of clinical, academic and other significant roles, while also being appointed numerous honours, special recognitions and awards. He is currently a Senior Science Advisor to the National Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC), a Senior Medical Advisor to The Jed Foundation (NYC), an Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine, temporary Advisor to the Department of Mental Health and Substance Dependence of the World Health Organisation and an elected board member of the International Association for Suicide Prevention. A full biography can be found at http://www.himh.org.au/spforum

    Registration is open from today for Dr Silverman's two interesting and affordable events.

    These will be the only events open to the public and stakeholders being held in New South Wales while he is here and we encourage everyone to advantage of this great opportunity to hear from someone who has been working in suicide prevention globally for years.

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health and Director Jaelea Skehan will host an insightful seminar led by Dr Silverman on Thursday 22 January 2015 at Newcastle City Hall.

    In this seminar Dr. Silverman will discuss:

    1. Contemporary approaches to understanding suicidal behaviours
    2. Models to explain the development of suicidal behaviours
    3. The evolution of public health approaches to disease prevention and health promotion
    4. Distinctions between prevention and treatment approaches
    5. Understanding why suicide is a public health problem
    6. How public health concepts can be applied to suicide prevention
    7. Distinctions between primary/secondary/tertiary prevention and universal/selected/indicated approaches to suicide interventions
    8. How existing public health interventions can be tailored to address suicidal behaviours
    9. Challenges to implementing a public health approach to suicide prevention
    10. The successes and limitations of suicide prevention – what we can do, and what we need to do

    A Q&A session will be held following the main presentation.

    For more information about the seminar, visit www.himh.org.au/spseminar

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health will also host an evening forum at Newcastle City Hall on Thursday 22 January 2015.  The Institute will bring together an exciting line up of speakers, from international suicide prevention expert, Dr Morton Silverman (USA) to Commissioner John Feneley from the NSW Mental Health Commission and Hunter Institute of Mental Health Director Jaelea Skehan.

    These leading experts will deliver a 2 hour forum to discuss a significant topic, Suicide Prevention: A global, national and local Issue. This event will bring together key stakeholders on national and local levels from a range of settings and services.

    For more information about the forum, visit www.himh.org.au/spforum

    To register for either event, please click here

    Don’t miss your opportunity to hear Dr Silverman share his knowledge and experience in suicide prevention. Seats are limited.

    If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the Hunter Institute of Mental Health on (02) 49246900.

  • Grief and support information for those affected by the loss of Phillip Hughes

    Wednesday, 3 December 2014

    With the public funeral of Phillip Hughes today and national outpouring of grief, we thought we would provide some basic information about grief for those that might find it useful.

    Grief is a natural response to loss. It’s the emotional suffering you feel when something or someone you care for is taken away. The more significant the loss, the more intense the grief will be. But it is not uncommon to experience grief following the loss of someone you didn’t know personally, and people can be caught off guard when this happens. This can include the death of a celebrity, a prominent person in the community, or someone that you identify with in some way.  

    Even when many people are affected, grieving is an individual experience. How you grieve depends on many factors, including your personality and coping style, your life experience, your faith, and the nature of the loss. Some people start to feel better in days or weeks, but for others, the grieving process is measured in years. Some common symptoms of grief can include: shock and disbelief; sadness; guilt; anger; fears and worries; or physical symptoms like fatigue, aches and pains and insomnia.

    It is important when grieving to seek support from others. Even if you aren’t comfortable talking about your feelings, it’s important to express them when you’re grieving. Sharing your loss can make it easier to work through your feelings. You may consider talking to friends and family or talking to a counsellor (either face-to-face, online or via telephone).

    These other tips can also help:

    • Acknowledge your feelings, as trying to avoid feelings of sadness and loss only prolongs the grieving process. 
    • Consider writing about your feelings in a journal or expressing them through art. 
    • Look after your physical health as the mind and body are connected. When you feel good physically, you’ll also feel better emotionally. 
    • Let yourself feel whatever you feel without embarrassment or judgment. It’s okay to be angry or sad and it is also ok to find times of happiness.  
    • Plan ahead for times when grief may return or get worse – e.g. anniversaries, holidays, and other milestones.

    If you need immediate support – you can call:

    Lifeline on 13 11 14
    Mensline Australia 1300 789 978 
    beyondblue 1300 224 636

    You can also find useful information about grief and loss at www.grief.org.au

  • Hunter Institute welcomes the release of Children’s Rights Report 2014

    Thursday, 27 November 2014

    Ahead of the official launch next week, the Australian Human Rights Commission has released their Children’s Rights Report 2014 today.Hunter Institute of Mental Health Director Jaelea Skehan has welcomed the report’s focus on areas including research, collaboration and the prevention of suicide, self-harm and mental ill-health.

    “Putting prevention first on the agenda is imperative; it is a sobering, but important report and the Hunter Institute commends the Human Rights Commission for its work in this area.

    “Focusing on the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people is essential, so this is a significant  document for the sector and broader community,” said Ms Skehan.

    In her media release, National Children’s Commissioner Megan Mitchell has today called for a national research agenda to underpin policies and interventions for children and young people engaging in intentional self-harm.

    “It is clear that we need to review the timing of interventions and support, and work with children much earlier to build resilience and encourage help seeking,” said Commissioner Mitchell

    “…The type of data released in my report today should be made available every year.  Without comprehensive surveillance of intentional self-harm in children, our prevention and early intervention strategies cannot be properly planned or evaluated…

    “…Strategies to promote help-seeking as a positive life skill and a sign of strength should be prioritised,” Commissioner Mitchell said in the release.

    Hunter Institute’s Ms Skehan agreed, saying to best prevent intentional self-harm in children we must start early, supporting their mental health and wellbeing, and building resilience and protective factors.

    “The report accurately suggests that we need to be focusing our attention as early as possible, to ensure that we can reduce the number of children and young people that are engaging in intentional self-harm.

    “Apart from the obvious impacts on children and young people, intentional self-harm also brings distress and a range of impacts to families, friends, schools and the broader community.

    “As highlighted in the report, we need to work a lot better together as a sector and a broader community to focus our prevention activities,” Jaelea said.

    The report is available now online here

    If you need to talk with someone, please contact:

  • Supporting carers in PND Awareness Week

    Friday, 21 November 2014

    It is Postnatal Depression Awareness week (PND), an opportunity to promote awareness of mental health and wellbeing in the antenatal and postnatal periods, encourage new and expectant parents to seek help early, and break down some of the stigma surrounding this common health issue.

    Up to 1 in 10 women in Australia experience depression during pregnancy, and 1 in 7 new mums and 1 in 20 new dads are diagnosed with postnatal depression every year in Australia. Even more experience anxiety and many people experience depression and anxiety at the same time.

    People who have Postnatal Depression find the stresses and emotional changes that accompany their postnatal experiences can be intense and include strong depressive mood swings, anxiety, social withdrawal, irritability and loss of enjoyment in usual activities. These symptoms can begin suddenly after birth or appear gradually in the weeks or months during the first year after birth.

    Whilst PND Awareness Week is about promoting awareness and supporting people with PND, it is also a time to highlight the role of partners and other family members in supporting someone with Postnatal Depression

    We know people often don’t identify as carers, and when there is a new baby in the house, people may be less likely to think of their role as a ‘caring one’.  Because people who love, live with or support someone experiencing depression do not traditionally identify themselves as ‘carers’, this means that the significant role they play in the lives of one million Australians who experience depression every year can go unnoticed.

    We also know from a national report the Hunter Institute released last year, that people providing support to someone experiencing depression are likely to have poorer physical and mental health, challenges with their relationships and are less likely to participate in social activities.

    Perhaps even more worrying, carers reported levels of psychological distress that were much higher than the Australian population and that suggested an immediate risk of mental ill-health.

    Tips for supporting carers

    Things people who care for someone with depression need:

    • Better information about depression and its treatment;
    • Awareness of the personal and emotional impact the caring role can have;
    • Tips for managing increased responsibilities;
    • Coping and self-care strategies;
    • Advice on how to nurture and their relationships with the person outside of the caring role;
    • Understanding from other family, friends and colleagues;
    • Awareness of services they can access for their own mental health and wellbeing;
    • Hope for the future, regardless of the recovery stage of the person being supported.

    How can you help someone with depression?

    • Indicate you have noticed changes in behaviour
    • Let them know you will listen without judgement
    • Assist them to access help for their symptoms
    • Talk openly about depression
    • Encourage exercise, a healthy diet and involvement in activities
    • Assist them to find further information or connect with other supports

    Things that are unhelpful include:

    • Pressuring the person to ‘snap out of it’ or ‘cheer up’
    • Avoiding them
    • Assuming the problem will go away on its own

    Support for Carers- The Partners in Depression Program 

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health developed the Partners in Depression program to address the specific needs of those who love, live with or care for someone with depression, regardless of whether they see their role as a traditional caring one.

    Partners in Depression allows participants to better understand their role and the pressures it brings, as well as teaching skills for managing their own mental and physical health, and for improving their relationships with their family and friends. It also provides them with information and tools for giving more effective support to the person they care for.

    The program is rolled out nationally in partnership with locally based family and mental health workers across all states and territories.

    Find a facilitator or further information at www.partnersindepression.com.au

    People concerned about perinatal (antenatal and postnatal) depression can learn more by visiting www.justspeakup.com.au or www.panda.org.au.

    For factsheets visit http://www.panda.org.au/practical-information/panda-fact-sheets

  • Conversations Matter to all communities across Australia

    Thursday, 20 November 2014

    Conversations MatterTo mark the one year anniversary of the world-first Conversations Matter resources, the Hunter Institute of Mental Health has called for an Australia-wide approach to support safe community discussion about suicide.

    The online resource, Conversations Matter, provides practical information for individuals, families and communities to guide discussions about suicide. It can be used to support one-on-one conversations or to assist with planning for group or community-wide discussions.

    Supported by the NSW Mental Health Commission with initial funding from the NSW Government, the Hunter Institute of Mental Health is now calling on other states and territories, businesses and NGOs to ensure the resources can reach all communities.

    Director of the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, Jaelea Skehan, says that while the resources have only been actively piloted in NSW to date, that demand for the resources and professional development for those working with communities is increasing.

    “We know that people are more engaged with suicide prevention than they ever have been in the past and communities across Australia want support to talk about the issue in safe and helpful ways,” said Jaelea.

    “We have the full support of the NSW Mental Health Commission to now approach other jurisdictions and reframe the program for national outcomes to ensure that we build on existing evidence-informed programs and reduce duplication of effort nationally.”

    In its first year, with modest promotions, the Conversations Matter website has had over 20,000 unique visitors with one out of every two visitors downloading the resources.

    The program has also partnered with organisations in NSW to pilot professional development for health and non-health workers with access to a range of geographic and other communities.

    This has included training delivered to Rural Adversity Mental Health Workers across NSW, staff working with LGBTI communities through ACON, workshops for Family and Community Services workers and engagement of people working in suicide prevention. The first year also saw the execution of a partnership with the RUOK Day Foundation on messaging for the 2014 campaign.

    NSW Mental Health Commissioner John Feneley has been a strong supporter of the program and its initial roll-out in NSW.

    “The Commission is proud to have partnered with the Hunter Institute of Mental Health to disseminate and implement this groundbreaking, practical guide to broaching the topic of suicide with loved ones,” he said.

    “The successful capacity building sessions that have run this year with groups, including those in rural communities and those that work with young people, are testament to the quality of the resources and how authentically it reaches people right across our community.

    “I look forward to continuing conversations and further success in our shared goal of preventing suicide.”

    The Hunter Institute is currently finalising new Conversations Matter resources in partnership with Aboriginal organisations and is scoping a national approach for Conversations Matter resources to support young people and those working with young people.

    The Conversations Matter resources were developed following a review of the evidence, consultation with stakeholders and communities and a comprehensive review process. 

    “Many national organisations and individuals invested time and expertise in the development of the original resources.  It is now time to build on that foundation and ensure we develop further resources to meet the needs of individuals, families, workplaces and communities across Australia,” added Jaelea.

    To access the resources, visit www.conversationsmatter.com.au

    View or download the new information video featuring Conversations Matter supporters from the suicide prevention sector:
     

    Conversations Matter Speaker Video from HInstMH on Vimeo.

  • Tonight's celebration of our Director Jaelea's 100 Women of Influence

    Wednesday, 22 October 2014

    Jaelea photoTonight, our Director Jaelea Skehan will be celebrated as one of Australia’s 100 Women of Influence at the Australian Financial Review and Westpac 100 Women of Influence Awards Dinner at Sydney’s Town Hall.

    Jaelea has been recognised because of her commitment and leadership in mental health and suicide prevention, specifically her commitment to prevention.

    Over her 14 years at the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, Jaelea has been instrumental in the development of local, state and national programs that are aimed at reducing mental illness and suicide. This has included local leadership to build the capacity of individuals, families, workplaces, schools, health services, media and the community to contribute to the prevention of mental illness and the prevention of suicide.

    Jaelea Skehan has been committed to change on a local and national level, working tirelessly to promote mental health and wellbeing. Apart from her local leadership she has been recognised nationally and internationally for her work.

    Last week as part of Mental Health Month and the DiG Festival, Jaelea spoke alongside NSW Mental Health Commissioner John Feneley, and Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre CEO Jane Burns at a breakfast event where each talked about having a future vision for mental health and wellbeing.

    Below is part of the speech Jaelea delivered at that breakfast:

    “There would be no person living in Australia who has not been touched by mental illness or suicide.  Either because they have personal experience or because they have a family member, friend or colleague who has been affected.

    More than ever before, communities are interested in and engaged with the issues.  But often we have used that engaged community to talk to them about the treatment and service system. 

    And there is absolutely no doubt that our vision should include an Australia that is better at treating and supporting those who need specialist mental health care. When they need it, where they need it, and the formats they want that treatment and support in.

    But that vision should also include an Australia that has less people developing mental illness in the first place and less people experiencing the psychological pain associated with suicidal thinking. It must include more people living well so they don’t need the service system and especially don’t need the hospital system. 
    In health and mental health we often talk about upstream and downstream approaches to health care.
    If we think about a farmer who is living downstream who notices his livestock have fallen in the river.  A treatment only approach is about swimming out into the stream as quickly and as effectively as possible and pulling them back to shore.

    And of course this is important and vital. If there is an animal in the stream, we want the farmer to be able to swim out and get it back to dry land as quickly as possible minimising the damage caused.

    But the problem with only staying downstream is that often the farmer can only rescue one animal at a time and those he doesn’t have enough hands to catch, may slip further downstream. It also means the farmer is more than likely to burn out before the job is done.

    But if we go upstream – perhaps we can figure out what caused the animals to fall into the stream in the first place and stop it from happening.  This is the realm of prevention. 

    It is identifying the things that place whole communities or selected individuals in the community at risk and seeks to modify them.  It is also about identifying the things that are protective and keep us well and enhancing them.

    It is the reason I am so passionate about prevention. 

    Don’t get me wrong, we have had promotion and prevention written into every state and national policy documents since about 2000 when we actually had our first good conversation about prevention of mental illness.  But like so many things, words are not enough.  We need to turn words into action.

    There have been some good investment and movement in the early intervention space, but I would say we have seen much less collective and strategic action on prevention of mental illness or the promotion of mental health and wellbeing.

    It is sometimes a hard sell to governments, when the full benefits of preventative approaches may not be seen for many years. So let me at least start by selling prevention to this room and perhaps we can line up together to convince government and the community.

    Investing in the promotion of mental health and wellbeing and the prevention of mental ill-health leads not only to a more efficient use of mental health resources, it has a flow-on effect for a range of services including general health care, drug and alcohol services, education, child and family services and the justice system.

    Not to menton that mental health and wellbeing is a basic human right. It is the foundation of a healthy society and a healthy economy.

    Prevention approaches also make good economic sense. Australia spends $28 billion per year on dealing with the impact of mental ill-health, but return on investment in the prevention end shows real promise – not just on reducing future costs but also increasing productivity and participation.

    Promotion and prevention approaches, by their nature, involve the domains of everyday life and a range of service settings. This provides an opportunity for meaningful partnerships – we can involve schools, workplaces, health services, and communities.

    We need to look at whole of life, not just wait for an episode severe enough to warrant a response when thinking about mental health.  To continue to do that is unconscionable.

    The time for talk is done and the time for action is now.  We need to make sure that when the future comes – be it 5 years, 10 years, or in 20 years – that we are not still having the same conversations and we are not standing in the same place that we are now.

    We must put prevention first, not just in words but in action.”

     

    100WOI logo

  • Reflections from young people #DiGFestival

    Monday, 20 October 2014

    As part of the DiG Festival mental health stream, the Hunter Institute invited members from the Young and Well CRC’s Youth Brains Trust and headspace’s hY NRG to reflect on their experiences over the two-day conference. The pieces written by these young people highlight what they were passionate about, what they learnt, and what they feel we need to think about as a sector more broadly.

    All of their thoughts and views are as they wrote them.

    Youth Brains Trust members include:

    • Lee Ashton
    • Erin Filan
    • Chris Pycroft (previous member)

    hY NRG members include:

    • Jarrad Hickmott
    • Lily Yuen

    Click here to view the collection.


    himh     Dig     yaw

  • What does innovation and embracing a digital world mean in mental health?

    Thursday, 16 October 2014

    The first day of our mental health stream DiG Festival is underway and the team are very excited to be here.

    The DiG Festival is being held from 16-17 October at Newcastle City Hall.

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health, in partnership with the Young and Well CRC, has integrated a mental health stream into the DiG Festival allowing business, education providers, technology providers together with young people, academics and experts from the field to network and share successes and idea’s for the future.

    Our first session was: What does innovation and embracing a digital world mean in mental health? With panel members: Commissioner John Feneley, NSW Mental Health Commission, Chris Pycroft, Media Access Australia, Janet Hopkins, SANE Australia, Daniel Donahoo, Project Synthesis and Lily Yuen, headspace HyNRG member.

    Our panellist Chris Pycroft from Media Access Australia has shared some insights from his presentation:

    "I’d like to start by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land on which we meet today, the land of the Awabakal people, and respect their elders past and present, as well as acknowledge those with us that have a lived experience. I’m here at DiG Festival because the first person to ever reach out to me and tell me they weren’t okay did it through a social networking platform.

    I’m here because when 8 years ago, when I wanted to know what more I could do to help, Google pointed me in the direction of becoming a ReachOut.com Youth Ambassador, and I’m here because of experiences such as one I had three years ago, when here in Newcastle, walking to a Mindframe, one of the other attendees slowed down their car as they passed me, wound down their window, honked their horn and said “Hey Chrispytweets!” All of my experiences with mental health; resource development, advocacy, facilitation, working with parliamentarians, all of it has incorporated technology and the benefits that come from it.

    When it comes to mental health, we’re using technology in ways that we never have before. Whether it be for self-education, support seeking, offering someone somewhere they can turn to, or even wanting to start a conversation, the use of technology is on the rise.

    Last week’s successful Mental As campaign from the ABC not only engaged 5.7m people through its programming, there were 176,000 visitors to online content and 33,000 mentions of the MentalAs hashtag in just a single week.  The combined number of visitors to Lifeline, ReachOut.com, Beyondblue and Mensline websites in 2012-13 was just under 5 million. And that’s just four service providers. That excludes numbers such as the 460,000+ times fact sheets and stories from Kids Helpline that were read online. These services are seeing continued online growth. Mensline in their last report highlighted a 64% increase in traffic to its website in just 12 months. ReachOut.com’s audience has expanded almost 30% in the last year, reaching 1.8 million people. But it’s not just website traffic that is on the rise.

    As the rollout of online counseling and chat support services continue, we’re seeing significant growth in early figures.  In 2012-13, more than 66,000 sessions were delivered through Lifeline, Kids HelpLine and Beyondblue. Lifeline’s online crisis support chat service reported a 65% yearly increase, a figure that will only continue to rise as it expands its operating hours. 42% of Kids HelpLine’s counseling sessions were delivered online in 2012-13, and feedback from users indicates they prefer to receive counseling advice online than over the phone. The number of e-mails received through Beyondblue’s Online Support service nearly tripled in 2012-13 on the prior year..

    The mission is no longer to create just an online presence, it is to create the optimal user experience so that users can understand the what and the where, and service providers can grasp the how and the why. As the range of technology hardware increases, the uptake of responsive design development must match it, to ensure that service offerings are as inclusive as possible and are not denying the people that need to use it, purely because they own one type of device over another.

    UX must include the audience and demographics you’re delivering to. It’s not as easy as it sounds, but you wouldn’t give someone a car without a motor, so why do something such as produce content for people with disabilities, and yet make it inaccessible to them? A UX that isn’t completely inclusive happens more often than you think it does. It’s not just about being where your audience is and providing information in a language they understand, the format that it’s presented in is just as important.

    Technology and its target markets are at the forefront of positive change and innovation when it comes to mental health. Unison is needed now more than ever if we’re to progress the e-health agenda. It’s not just my generation that is the focus of innovation, it is the one before it, and if we’re to avoid creating our own digital divide within the sector, it’s the one after it as well. The benefits of technology are being realised as we speak. Now more than ever, we need to enhance the holistic approach, not segment it."

    Follow Chris Pycroft on Twitter @chrispytweets or Media Access Australia @mediaaccessaus and www.mediaaccess.org.au/

     



     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • Supporting carers in the Hunter

    Tuesday, 14 October 2014

    Do you know, love or support someone living with depression? The Partners in Mining program may help you.

    Depression will affect about one in six Australians at some stage in their lifetime. This staggering statistic is dwarfed only by the numbers of people who provide love, support and care to those experiencing the illness.

    Just as depression can strike at any time, anyone may find themselves within depression’s caring network – supporting a friend, partner, child, parent, relative or colleague battling the “black dog.” 

    Many people in the support role don’t call themselves a “carer”; they just see it as being a parent, or a partner or a workmate. Sadly, this can make their role invisible to governments, communities, workplaces – even their own families and friends.

    While there are many positive aspects of the carer role, the demands of supporting someone with depression can be overwhelming. Carers may feel isolated as well as challenged to know where to go to for information and they are often reluctant to prioritise their own need for support. Research shows that they are at greater risk of developing anxiety, depression and stress themselves.

    Partners in Mining is for mine workers and their families in the Hunter Valley who are supporting someone with depression. This program can help address the isolation, provide information and give you tools to better manage the caring role. 

    It is a six-week group program, being delivered by CS Health in the Upper Hunter and registrations are open now.  Places are limited within this initial period.  Courses are starting on Tuesday 21 October from 6.30-8.30pm, Wednesday 29th October from 9.30 to 11.30am and Friday 14 November from 10.30am to 12.30pm.

    This program is an initiative of the Hunter Institute of Mental Health that has been funded by Coal Services Health and Safety Trust.

    If you are a mine worker or a family member of a mine worker, and you provide support to someone experiencing depression and would like to find out more please contact the Hunter Institute on (02) 49 24 69 47 or email HNELHD-PID@hnehealth.nsw.gov.au


     

  • New Early Childhood Resource launched

    Monday, 13 October 2014

    Connections 5

    Positive early childhood development is important for the wellbeing of babies and young children, and can also lead to lasting benefits for their future health and learning.

    The relationships and experiences we have as a young child, and the environments in which we live and grow, can affect how the brain develops. This in turn can influence our physical health, mental health, relationships and success at school and work.

    Thousands of young children in Australia attend early childhood services such as preschool, family day care or long day care services. Early childhood educators play a critical part in supporting these children and their families.

    Connections is a new, practical resource for early childhood educators to guide them in supporting young children’s mental health and wellbeing. It was developed by the Hunter Institute of Mental Health with funding from the Australian Government through the Department of Education.

    Connections contains practical examples and tips to help educators promote the mental health and wellbeing of all children, including those with additional mental health needs. Reflective questions and case studies are included, as well as links to the National Quality Standard (NQS) for early childhood education. Fact sheets are also provided on a range of topics.

    Connections was produced in consultation with early childhood educators across Australia, as well as early childhood peak bodies and mental health experts.

    Copies are currently being distributed to early childhood services across Australia and are also available online here

    For more information about Connections and the research behind it, please visit: www.himh.org.au/connections

  • Partners in Mining Program

    Thursday, 9 October 2014

    Partners in Mining image

    Do you know, love or care for someone experiencing depression? Do you want to know more about what you can do to help them? Or how you can make sure you’re OK while supporting them? The Partners in Mining program may help you.

    Partners in Mining is a free six week group education and support program for mine workers and their families in the Upper Hunter who support a person experiencing depression. The program is based on the successful Partners in Depression national program.

    Partners in Mining is being delivered by CS Health. Groups are starting on the 21 October, 29 October and the 14 November in Singleton at CS Health offices. This program is an initiative of the Hunter institute of Mental Health, funded by the Coal Services Health and Safety Trust.

    To find out more go to http://www.partnersindepression.com.au/partners-in-mining or contact us on 4924 6947 or email at HNELHD-PID@hnehealth.nsw.gov.au

  • Alternative rockers Pacefaint are voted ‘top dog’ at the YRBD Grand Final

    Thursday, 9 October 2014

    Newcastle-based foursome Pacefaint struck a chord with judges last night to take out this year’s Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog band competition at Lizotte’s Newcastle.

    The unassuming alternative rock outfit were up against tough competition. However, it was Pacefaint’s energy, exciting guitar tone and great overall mix of songs that won over the judges and landed them with an EP recording package.

    When asked about winning the YRBD Grand Final, Pacefaint’s front man Michael Garrett said: “It felt unbelievable to win tonight. We still can’t believe it.

    “It’s been an amazing experience and it’s completely surreal,” Garrett added.

    Other awards presented during the YRBD Grand Final included: Second prize of $500 and a two-track EP recording to In Motion (from Port Stephens); a $300 cash prize to third place winners Montagu (from Newcastle); $250 cash prize to JORJI for ‘best original song’ and ‘best original lyrics’ inspired by the NSW Mental Health Month theme ‘Be YOUnique!’; ‘Best Emerging Youth Act’ prize to Shelby Clements (from Newcastle); and, ‘Encouragement Award’ $100 cash prize to Spencer Scott (from Newcastle).

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health congratulates Pacefaint on their win, and all other musicians who competed at last night's Grand Final event. The atmosphere was electric and the performances were outstanding. 

    We would like to thank headspace Maitland and headspace Newcastle for their support as partners of Youth Rockin' the Black Dog for 2014.

    We'd also like to mention our sponsors who made this year's event possible: Lizotte’s Newcastle, Connec Ltd, Headjam, EAO Entertainment, Musos Corner, APRA AMCOS, Hazy Cosmic Jive Recording Studio, Captain Fatt Productions, Benchmark Mastering, Limelight Creative Media and Stacey Cross Photography.

     

    Pacefaint 1  Pacefaint 2
     

  • Local youth music acts to compete in YRBD Grand Final tonight!

    Wednesday, 8 October 2014

    Six local youth music acts will battle it out tonight for the fifth annual Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog Grand Final event at Lizotte's Newcastle.

    The youth music competition managed by the Hunter Institute of Mental Health in partnership with headspace Maitland and headspace Newcastle, raises awareness of mental health issues and local support services for young people in the Hunter and surrounding regions.

    The stellar line-up for the Grand Final will include a mix of acts from various local regions:

    • Euphorium, five-piece alternative rock band from Newcastle
    • In Motion, three-piece alternative rock band from Port Stephens
    • Codi Kaye, 17 year-old indie folk pop soloist from Lake Macquarie
    • Montagu, four-piece alternative rock band from Newcastle
    • The Moving Stills, three-piece alternative indie rock band from the Central Coast
    • Pacefaint, four-piece alternative rock pop band from Newcastle

    Hunter Institute Director Jaelea Skehan said: “Given that 75% of mental illnesses emerge before the age of 24, there is no better time to get people talking about what keeps us mentally healthy and breaking down the stigma associated with mental illness.

    “But it is more than getting young people involved in thinking about and talking about mental health.  It is also about giving them an experience that enhances their overall wellbeing.

    “Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog is an event where young people are not just accepted for their differences and what they bring to the stage, but they are celebrated for it,” Jaelea added.

    The competition’s drawcard first place prize is a professionally produced and mastered three-track EP, with 500 pressed CDs. The Hunter Institute has also encouraged all acts to bring along their supporters on the night as there will be bonus points up for grabs for the act who takes out the People’s Choice award.

    To open this year’s Grand Final event, 2013 Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog winner James Osborn will officially launch his completed EP Discovering Monkeys. James is also set to perform alongside his fellow musicians James Edge and Jackson Besley of their newly formed band, The Treehouse Children.

    If you haven’t purchased your tickets to the Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog Grand Final event yet, there is still time! Please contact Lizotte’s Newcastle by calling (02) 4956 2066 or visit the Lizotte's website for online ticket sales.

    If you love your live music and like supporting local talent, come along to Lizotte’s Newcastle tonight and experience the Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog music comp Grand Final!

    Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog competition information and updates can be found at www.himh.org.au/YRBD or via the YRBD Facebook page at www.facebook.com/YRBDbandcomp.

     

    Codi Kaye   The Moving Stills

    Montagu   Pacefaint

    Euphorium   In Motion

  • Expo for Families and Carers

    Tuesday, 7 October 2014

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health will host a stall at the 2014 Expo for Families and Carers to showcase the Partners in Depression and Partners in Mining program resources on Thursday 9 October 2014 from 9:30am – 3:00pm at Newcastle Panthers, King Street Newcastle.

    The expo is free to attend!

    The Hunter New England Carer Education and Support Program invites families, carers, health professionals, service providers, teachers/assistants and the general public to come along as there will be information and support for:

    • Families & carers in their caring role
    • Professionals to support Families and carers
    • Opportunities to network and promote carers week activities.

    Visit our stall to find out more about Partners in Depression and Partners in Mining – supporting carers in the Hunter and across Australia.  For more information about the program visit: www.partnersindepression.com.au

    For more information about the expo or to register, click here

     

  • Hunter Institute of Mental Health Director named as one of Australia's most influential women

    Thursday, 2 October 2014

    100WOI logo

    Our very own Hunter Institute of Mental Health Director Jaelea Skehan has been announced today as a winner in The Australian Financial Review and Westpac 100 Women of Influence Awards for 2014. Jaelea has been recognised in the local and regional category for her contribution to mental health and suicide prevention locally and nationally. 

    Over her 14 years at the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, Ms Skehan has been instrumental in the development of local, state and national programs that are aimed at reducing mental illness and suicide.  This has included local leadership to build the capacity of individuals, families, workplaces, schools, health services, media and the community to contribute to the prevention of mental illness and the prevention of suicide.

    Jaelea Skehan has been committed to change on a local and national level, working tirelessly to promote mental health and wellbeing. Apart from her local leadership she has been recognised nationally and internationally for her work.

    In accepting her nomination, Ms Skehan said she was both excited and humbled noting how important it was to see work in mental health and suicide prevention recognised in national awards like this.JSkehan pic

    “There would be no person living in Australia who has been untouched by mental illness or suicide.  I am privileged to be able to work in mental health and suicide prevention and am pleased to see contributions in this area recognised alongside business and other achievements,” said Ms Skehan.

    “Locally and nationally we must have a vision that includes less people developing mental illness and less people experiencing the psychological pain that may lead them to consider taking their own lives.”

    “We must also ensure that we increase understanding of the impact that mental illness and suicide has, so we can reduce stigma and ensure that every person gets the support they need and deserve.”

    A proud Novocastrian, Jaelea was particularly thrilled to be recognised in the local and regional category of the awards.

    “The Hunter Institute of Mental Health is in a unique position because we get to lead state-wide and national programs from our home here in Newcastle, while also working with our local community.”

    “Given that much of our funding is for national programs, our local work relies on contributions and commitment from business, service partners, the community and the media.”

    Jaelea has lead the design and development of flagship Hunter Institute programs including the internationally recognised Mindframe National Media Initiative which she led for 10 years, Conversations Matter resources to support community discussion of suicide, local community youth arts programs, Workplace Mental Health Interventions, and programs to support families and carers  to name just a few.

    Now in its third year, the 100 Women of Influence Awards celebrate outstanding women from a wide variety of sectors across Australia. Entrants into the awards were assessed by a panel of esteemed judges and have been recognised based on their outstanding ability to demonstrate vision, leadership, innovation and action in and beyond their fields.

    Gail Kelly, Westpac Group Chief Executive Officer says the breadth and calibre of our 100 Women of Influence for 2014 is remarkable.

    “It is such a privilege to be able to recognise and celebrate the outstanding contributions these women are making to Australia. We are blessed to have such great numbers of influential women doing incredible things in many industries and organisations right across our country.”

    On Wednesday 22 October, a gala event will be held at Sydney’s Town Hall to celebrate these women and the significant impact that each has made within their chosen field. The ten category winners and overall winner for the year will also be announced on the evening.

    For further information please visit: www.100womenofinfluence.com.au. Join the conversation at #100WOI

    For Jaelea Skehan's biography, please click here

    Follow the Hunter Institute of Mental Health on Facebook and Twitter @HInstMH

    100woi email signature


  • Celebrate being ‘YOUnique!’ during October!

    Wednesday, 1 October 2014

    MHM poster

    Today marks the beginning of Mental Health Month in NSW, a national mental health campaign held throughout the month of October.

    The theme for this year is ‘beYOUnique!’ celebrating our strengths, differences and being ourselves. This year’s theme promotes acceptance and an understanding of the impact that being proud of who we are can have on our wellbeing. 

    During the month of October, the Hunter Institute of Mental Health will be facilitating a range of activities in line with NSW Mental Health Month including:

    To kick things off, staff at the Hunter Institute will meet today to discuss events planned for October, and workshop a range of ‘YOUnique’ activities.

    Follow the Hunter Institute on Facebook and Twitter @HInstMH for regular Mental Health Month updates!

    For more information about NSW Mental Health Month, visit: www.mentalhealth.asn.au

  • Award Winning Initiative

    Tuesday, 30 September 2014

    RA logo_UPDATED

    Today, the Hunter Institute of Mental Health will be presented with the Mental Health Matters, Mental Health Promotion & Wellbeing Award for their Response Ability program, which supports the social and emotional wellbeing of children and young people through developing the skills of future teachers and early childhood educators.

    The award will be accepted by Hunter Institute Director, Jaelea Skehan and members of the project team at an awards ceremony officiated by the Hon. Jai Rowell MP at NSW Parliament House.

    Response Ability is an internationally distinctive and highly regarded program that has been preparing teaching graduates, since 1997, to assume an active and influential role in shaping the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people.

    The purpose of Response Ability is to increase the inclusion and coverage of mental health and suicide prevention in the pre-service education of teachers and early childhood educators, through the tertiary and Vocational Education Training (VET) sectors. To achieve this, the project aims to:

    • Support the inclusion of mental health promotion, prevention and early intervention in the VET sector’s training of Children’s Services educators and universities’ pre-service training of teachers;
    • Promote and advocate for mental health issues to be included in curricula for pre-service teachers and early childhood educators;
    • Maintain partnerships with other Australian government initiatives that focus on the mental health of children and young people or on tertiary education interventions to enhance mental health.

    Response Ability is an initiative of the Hunter Institute of Mental Health funded by the Australian Government Department of Health. For further information on the program and to access online resources visit www.responseability.org

  • Youth Rockin' the Black Dog 2014 Grand Finalists announced!

    Friday, 26 September 2014

    After four outstanding live heat rounds, the scores have been tallied!

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health are excited to announce the following six acts who will compete in this year's 2014 Youth Rockin the Black Dog Grand Final. 

    The stellar line up will include: Codi Kaye performing in Heat Four of Youth Rockin' the Black Dog 2014

    • Codi Kaye
    • Euphorium
    • In Motion
    • Montagu
    • Pacefaint
    • The Moving Stills

    Congratulations to all our grand finalists!  And a huge thank you to all the acts who played throughout our heats, the talent displayed was incredible and we recognise the hard job all of the judges had in choosing the finalists.

    Lizotte's Newcastle is the venue; Wednesday 8 October is the date.  The Youth Rockin' the Black Dog Grand Final will be a sell-out, so make sure you get your tickets early to ensure you don't miss this event - it will be epic!

    Tickets are $17.00 and may be purchased online at Lizotte's Newcastle website or by calling Lizotte's Newcastle on (02) 4956 2066.

    In the meantime, check out our six grand finalists, and their music:

    Codi Kaye - www.codikaye.com

    Euphorium - www.facebook.com/Euphoriumband

    In Motion - www.facebook.com/InMotionBand3

    Montagu - www.montagumusic.com

    Pacefaint - www.facebook.com/PacefaintAUS

    The Moving Stills - www.facebook.com/themovingstills


    For more information about Youth Rockin' the Black Dog, visit: www.himh.org.au/yrbd.

    For updates and photos, like our Facebook page www.facebook.com/yrbdbandcomp.

     

     

     

  • Top marks awarded to Euphorium in our last YRBD 2014 live heat!

    Thursday, 25 September 2014

    Alternative rock outfit Euphorium put on a stellar performance to take out our final live heat for the Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog competition this year. 

    The five-piece all male group from Newcastle showcased a number of their original tracks for the heat and were deemed “world-class”, by our guest judges for the evening.

    The People’s Choice was awarded to fellow alternative rock band, Snatch. The three-piece group are also based in Newcastle, and formed 12 months ago.

    This is it! The live heats are now completed and the scores will be tallied. The six highest scoring acts that will compete in the Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog Grand Final will be announced tomorrow, Friday 26 September.

    Make sure you ‘like’ our Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog Facebook page to receive this very important update!

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health would like to congratulate and thank all of the acts who participated in Heat Four last night. The performances were again outstanding and we are looking forward to the Grand Final event on Wednesday 8 October!

    For more information about the top scoring act Euphorium visit: https://www.facebook.com/Euphoriumband

    For more information about the People’s Choice act Snatch visit: www.facebook.com/pages/The-Snatch/62327712845?ref=ts&fref=ts

    For more information about Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog, visit: www.himh.org.au/yrbd

  • Recognising and responding to youth suicide in NSW

    Wednesday, 24 September 2014

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health is set to present and facilitate four workshops supporting “youth suicide conversations” this week for more than 200 NSW staff who work with young people.

    As part of the Research into Practice sessions organised by Family and Community Services (FACS), Hunter Institute Director Jaelea Skehan and two staff will travel to Sydney tomorrow to present on recognising and responding to suicide in young people, with a particular emphasis on having conversations about suicide.

    Over 245 people from FACS, and non-government organisations supporting young people across New South Wales, have already registered to attend the sessions.

    Following a presentation by Jaelea, attendees will move to workshop sessions being facilitated by the Hunter Institute and Department of Forensic Medicine. The topics for the workshop are:

    • Talking with adolescents at risk of suicide (two sessions)
    • Talking with adolescents following a suicide attempt
    • Supporting young children, siblings and families following a suicide

    These sessions will build on recent work of the Hunter Institute in suicide prevention, including Conversations Matter and The way back resources.

    Director of the Hunter Institute Jaelea Skehan said, “Conversations about suicide with young people can be challenging, and while it is important to understand the risks, we also need to make sure we are not ‘too afraid’ to talk about suicide.

    “It is a great opportunity to run sessions with such a large number of people who are committed to suicide prevention and supporting young people across New South Wales,” she added.

    The Hunter Institute also held training held last week with youth workers and FACS staff as part of the Combined Youth Interagency meeting in the Hunter region.

    For more information on Conversations Matter, visit: www.conversationsmatter.com.au

    To find out about The way back resources click here

    If you or an organisation wish to find out more about working with the Hunter Institute regarding Conversations Matter contact Alexandra Culloden via alexandra.culloden@hnhealth.nsw.gov.au or on (02) 4924 6932

  • Don’t miss the final live heat of YRBD 2014!

    Monday, 22 September 2014

    The line-up for the final live heat of Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog 2014 has been announced and will take place this Wednesday 24 September at Lizotte’s Newcastle. The last six acts that will battle it out for a place in the Grand Final include:

    • Snatch
    • Matt Petherbridge
    • SOAR
    • Euphorium
    • Spencer Scott
    • eleven eleven

    Doors will open at 6:30pm for a 7:00pm start. Guest judges for the evening include local musicians Chris English and Rachel Bradley, a rockin' representative from Musos Corner and a Youth Reference Group member from headspace Newcastle.

    This is your last chance to experience the Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog live heats for 2014, before the Grand Final event in October. We’ve saved some of the finest acts until last so, make sure the date is in your diary – there will be some incredible performances!

    Get keen and tell your friends, we will see you there!

    For more information about Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog, visit: www.himh.org.au/yrbd or like the Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog Facebook page for regular updates: www.facebook.com/yrbdbandcomp

    YRBD Heat 3.1      YRBD Heat 3.2

  • Codi Kaye rated top act in Heat Three of YRBD 2014

    Thursday, 18 September 2014

    Soloist Codi Kaye highly impressed our guest judges last night to take out Heat Three of the Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog music comp at Lizotte’s Newcastle.

    The 17-year old describes her music style as "indie folk pop" and was confident in showcasing a variety of her original tracks to gain the highest score for the evening. 

    The People’s Choice was awarded to four-piece indie pop rock outfit Cassette, a fresh new band from Newcastle.

    The final round of heats for Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog 2014 will take place next Wednesday 24 September, and will feature the following talented line-up:

    • Snatch
    • Matt Petherbridge
    • SOAR
    • Euphorium
    • Spencer Scott
    • eleven eleven

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health would like to congratulate and thank all of the acts who participated in Heat Three last night. The performances were outstanding and we are looking forward to the final heat of the competition next week, it is going to be amazing!

    For more information about the top scoring act Codi Kaye visit: http://www.codikaye.com/
    For more information about the People’s Choice act Cassette visit: www.facebook.com/cassetteofficial

    For more information about Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog, visit: www.himh.org.au/yrbd or like Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog on Facebook for updates and photos: www.facebook.com/yrbdbandcomp

  • Mental Health Stream DiG Program announced

    Tuesday, 16 September 2014

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health are excited to announce the release of the preliminary mental health stream program for the DiG Festival.

    The Hunter Institute has partnered with the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre to develop our mental health technology and innovation stream.

    We are pleased to share this dynamic festival program with you which includes presentations, panel sessions, workshops and think-tanks and hope that you can join us to learn and gain insight from some of the leading experts in media, educators, technology partners and many of the organisations at the forefront of innovation in mental health.

    To download the program click here

    To register for the conference, please click here

    If you require further information regarding this event, please visit www.digfestival.com.au
    or contact Brooke Cross, Senior Communications Officer, Hunter Institute of Mental Health at brooke.cross@hnehealth.nsw.gov.au or call 0414 292 403.

    We look forward to seeing you there!

     


    Event Information 

    The DiG Festival is being held Newcastle City Hall, 290 King Street, Newcastle.

    Registration will be at 8.45am on the first day of the festival- Thursday 16th October. 

    Parking: Car parking is limited around Newcastle City Hall, however there are nearby Parking Stations located at:
    -  Burwood St (behind to Newcastle City Council admin building) 
    - 11 Argyle Street, Newcastle (entry from Wharf Road) 
    - Gibson Street (behind Newcastle Permanent building) 
    - Newcastle Panthers, King Street (near Union St)
      
    Train Stations: The nearest station to Newcastle City Hall is Civic Station just 210m from Venue.
     

    Reserve your seat now, click here

     

  • Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog – Round 3 announcement!

    Tuesday, 16 September 2014

    The line-up for Heat Three of Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog has been announced and will take place this Wednesday 17 September at Lizotte’s Newcastle. The amazing local talent that will be performing in round three are:

    • Cassette
    • The Moving Stills
    • Codi Kaye
    • Kqash
    • The Radics

    Doors will open at 6:30pm for a 7:00pm start. Guest judges for the evening include David Hess from Musos Corner, local musician Nadine Quinn and Shanelle Van Akerlan, Youth Reference Group member from headspace Newcastle.

    If you missed the first two heats, make sure you don’t miss the fantastic line-up this Wednesday night!

    We’ll also have special guest Anthony Scully, producer of ABC Open ‘Speak Your Mind’ project attending. Anthony will be encouraging young people to write a simple message about wellbeing on their hands, take photo, and tag to Instagram with the hashtag #SpeakYourMind.

    For more information about Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog, visit: www.himh.org.au/yrbd or 'like' the Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog Facebook page for regular updates: https://www.facebook.com/YRBDbandcomp

    We hope to see you there!

     

    YRBD Heat 2 winners

     

     YRBD Heat 2.1        YRBD Heat 2.2

                     YRBD Heat 2.4        YRBD Heat 2.3

              

     

  • Montagu score top marks in YRBD Heat Two for 2014!

    Thursday, 11 September 2014

    Four-piece alternative indie rock outfit Montagu, stepped up to the challenge to take out Heat Two of the Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog music comp last night at Lizotte’s Newcastle.

    It was a tough job deciding between the five stellar acts in Heat Two, but it was Montagu who put on a very polished performance to be rated top act by the guest judges on the night.

    People’s Choice for the evening was awarded to Pacefaint, a four-piece alternative rock, pop act who formed two years ago, and showcased a range of original tracks.

    Heat Three of Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog will take place next Wednesday 17 September, and will feature the following line-up:

    • Codi Kaye
    • Cassette
    • The Moving Stills
    • KQASH
    • The Radics

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health would like to congratulate and thank all of the acts who participated in Heat Two last night. The performances were outstanding and we are looking forward to Heat Three next week!

    For more information about the top scoring act Montagu visit: http://www.montagumusic.com/

    For more information about the People’s Choice act Pacefaint visit: https://www.facebook.com/PacefaintAUS

    For more information about Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog, visit: www.himh.org.au/yrbd or like Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog on Facebook for updates and photos: www.facebook.com/yrbdbandcomp

  • To mark R U OK day for 2014, our Director Jaelea Skehan wrote this personal post she wanted to share with people.

    Thursday, 11 September 2014

    RUOK? Day 2014 photo

    Today is R U OK? Day, a national day of action dedicated to reminding us to check in regularly with family and friends.

    It is a day about connecting and reconnecting.  Building those links between human beings that keeps up strong and helps us through hard times.

    Yesterday in an interview with Jill Emberson from 1233 ABC she asked me how people could feel disconnected in a world where we connect in more ways than we ever have.

    And so here is the thing – being surrounded by people and communicating in new and diverse ways is not necessarily the same as connecting.

    It seems that R U OK? Day has become about confessions for me. 

    Last year in an Op Ed for the Newcastle Herald I confessed I was so busy in the week leading up to R U OK? Day that I forgot my best friend’s birthday (*submit utter devastation here*).

    But here is another confession. Sometimes I don’t listen when people are talking to me.

    How often have you been in a ‘conversation’ with someone and you are thinking about something else or you are crafting what you will say next in your head?

    Last night I was privileged to go to the University Alumni Awards to support one of my mentors who was a finalist for his amazing service to communities.  During the welcome and networking drinks I found myself talking to someone I hadn’t seen for a while.

    Well, in fact, he was talking.  What I was doing was keeping one eye on the rest of the room to see who I should speak to next.  I heard what he was saying, but I wasn’t listening.

    Would it actually really matter if I spoke to twenty more people in the room if I hadn’t actually had a conversation with any of them? So I stopped looking around the room and focussed on the person and the conversation before me.

    And so here it is. Talking to other people without really listening, is not a conversation.

    Standing around with people and talking is not really connecting. 

    And if you are going to ask someone R U OK?, they need to know you are really asking because you want to know the answer.  And they need to know you will actually listen.  As human beings, we know when the sentiment and the question are not genuine.

    So today as you pull on the yellow and text people and update your Facebook page, ask yourself whether it is more important to talk to lots of people or have a real conversation with just one.

    For those who need a reminder, here are the basic steps to asking R U OK?

    Step one: Start the conversation - ask R U OK?

    Step two: Listen without judgement and don’t try and solve the problem.  Just be there.

    Step three: Encourage action, whether that is telling someone else or making an appointment with their doctor or getting more information from a service online.

    Step four: Follow up. Check in with them again tomorrow at work or put a note in your diary to call them in one week.

    Our connection to others is what builds us up and keeps us strong.  Having people sit beside us when times are good and when times are bad can make all the difference.

    Be the difference.

    For more information on R U OK? Day go to: www.ruokday.com/

    For tips on having conversations about suicide, go to www.conversationsmatter.com.au

  • Get ready for YRBD 2014 Heat 2!

    Tuesday, 9 September 2014

    The line-up for Heat Two of Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog has been announced and will take place this Wednesday 10 September, at Lizotte’s Newcastle. Artists for round two include:

    • Bel & Em
    • Echo Echoed
    • Pacefaint
    • Boffinjah
    • Primal Envy
    • Montagu

    Doors will open at 6:30pm for a 7:00pm start. Guest judges for the evening include David Hess from Musos Corner, local musician Annie O’Dee and Liz Brain headspace Newcastle Youth Reference Group member.

    If you missed Heat One, make sure Heat Two is in your diary for Wednesday as it’s guaranteed to be rockin’ with some incredible local acts - you won’t want to miss it! 

    For more information about Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog, visit: www.himh.org.au/yrbd or 'like' the Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog Facebook page for regular updates: https://www.facebook.com/YRBDbandcomp

     

    YRBD Heat 1.2     YRBD Heat 1.3  

    YRBD Heat 1.4     YRBD heat 1.1

    YRBD Heat 1.5     YRBD Heat 1.6

  • WHO report highlights success of media guidelines in Australia

    Friday, 5 September 2014

    Dr Margaret Chan, World Health Organisation Director-General released the first global WHO report on suicide prevention last night in Geneva. The report discusses the importance of responsible media reporting of suicide which has been shown to decrease suicide rates.

    The report makes special mention of Australia as one of only two countries in the world where there has been improvement in the reporting of suicide and a reduction in suicide imitation following active media involvement in the dissemination of media guidelines.

    The Mindframe National Media Initiative, funded by the Department of Health and managed by the Hunter Institute of Mental Health provides national leadership on the portrayal of suicide and mental illness in the media, providing education and training for both media and the mental health and suicide prevention sectors.

    Hunter Institute for Mental Health Director Jaelea Skehan said, “The collaborative model used with the Mindframe Initiative is recognised internationally as best-practice. Australian research shows that the quantity and quality of reporting about mental illness and suicide has risen since it was introduced in the early 1990s.”

    The report highlights that media collaboration and participation in the development, dissemination and training of responsible reporting practices are essential for successfully improving the reporting of suicide and reducing suicide imitation.

    “While there is emerging activity in many countries – including the UK, the US, Canada and parts of Europe, Australia has had the longest running active strategy working in partnership with media and other sectors” said Jaelea Skehan.

    “We know from research and our experience on the ground in Australia that guidelines on their own are ineffective unless there is an active strategy to build partnerships between the media and the health sector and unless there are opportunities for journalists to understand not just what they recommend but why.

    “Guidelines are not, and should never be, about censorship of the media. Instead they should provide journalists with additional information and recommendations to make an informed decisions about whether to report and how to report," Ms Skehan said.

    The report summarises some of the important aspects of responsible reporting which include: avoiding detailed descriptions of suicidal acts, avoiding sensationalism and glamorization, using responsible language, minimizing the prominence of suicide reports, avoiding oversimplifications, educating the public about suicide and available treatments, and providing information on where to seek help.

    The WHO report has been released ahead of World Suicide Prevention Day on Wednesday 10th September.

    The report calls on governments around the world to develop suicide prevention strategies and also to set and monitor targets for the reductions in suicidal behaviour.  As part of the National Coalition for Suicide Prevention, the Hunter Institute supports this call and commits itself to the target of reducing suicides by half in Australia. 

    “It is important that we not only talk about what should be done, but have a clear strategy in place to guide our collective activities and a way of monitoring the effectiveness of that collective effort” said Jaelea Skehan.

    A number of Australian experts contributed to the report including Professor Diego De Leo, the WHO Collaborating Centre for Research and Training in Suicide Prevention, Brisbane, Australia, and other reviewers from Australia such as Suicide Prevention Australia Board members Michael Dudley and Myf Maple.

    For expert comment on media reporting of suicide and mental illness contact the Mindframe project team on (02) 4924 6904, 0427 227 503, mindframe@hnehealth.nsw.gov.au.
     

     

  • In Motion takes out YRBD Heat One for 2014

    Thursday, 4 September 2014

    In Motion, put on a flawless show to be rated the top act of the Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog Heat One at Lizotte’s Newcastle last night.

    The 3-piece alternative rock outfit, who formed in January, also took out the People’s Choice award for the evening.

    Guest judge for Heat One Peter Kibble, congratulated the winning act on their stellar performance.

    In Motion did a fantastic job. They looked like a band, played like a band and had all the elements right. I think they’ll have a good chance of going all the way,” Peter said.

    Heat Two of Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog will take place next Wednesday 10 September, and will feature the following line-up:

    • Bel & Em
    • Echo Echoed
    • Pacefaint
    • Boffinjah
    • Primal Envy
    • Montagu

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health would like to congratulate and thank all of the acts who participated last night. The showcase of young local talent was remarkable and we are looking forward to next week’s heat!

    For more information about the top scoring act In Motion, visit: https://www.facebook.com/InMotionBand3?fref=ts

    For more information about Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog, visit: www.himh.org.au/yrbd

  • Let’s be honest – it is not always easy to love your body

    Monday, 1 September 2014

    Body Image Week

     

    Today marks the start of Body Image and Eating Disorders Awareness Week. The Hunter Institute of Mental Health is proud to be a member of the National Eating Disorders Collaboration and works in partnership with the Butterfly Foundation and other organisations to raise awareness about body image and eating disorders.

    To get us thinking about the week, our Director Jaelea Skehan wrote this personal request to our networks and communities.


    “I am an intelligent woman who has travelled the world, built a career I love and have been blessed with family, friends and opportunity. 

    I am a role model for 150 young women in my netball club – something I take very seriously.

    I work in mental health. I have even worked with people living with an eating disorder and seen first-hand the utter devastation it can cause them and those who love them.

    But here it is…some days I don’t love my body. And sadly, I know I am not alone. Not even close to being alone.

    The things that get in the way of loving our bodies are different for everyone.

    For me, it is the fact that my body no longer looks the way it did when I was younger. To be honest, it is a harsh judgment for a body that has survived great adversity in recent years.

    For others it may be that their body does not match the supposed ‘ideal’ presented in the media.

    For some, their view of their body is quite distorted from reality and can cause untold distress and lead to unhelpful and potentially dangerous eating behaviours.

    The truth is that our bodies, and what they look like on the outside, do not and never will define who we are as a person. 

    We all need our bodies. Every day we rely on your body to function physically and mentally. They help us get through day-to-day life and achieve amazing things. 

    We know that the number of Australians who live with negative feelings about their body is increasing. We also know that negative body image is an established pre-cursor to an eating disorder.

    Body Image Awareness Week is a great time to think about how our view of our body affects our own life and the lives of people around us. With up to one million Australians living with an eating disorder, this week is the week to learn more and take a personal pledge to #loveyourbody.

    Log on to the Butterfly Foundation website and learn more about body image and eating disorders.  And while you are there, take the pledge. I did.”

    For more information about Body Image and Eating Disorder Awareness Week, please click here.

     


  • Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog heats up – Round 1 announcement

    Monday, 1 September 2014

    This week our Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog music competition kicks off with a stellar line up for heat one.


     Confirmed acts include:
    • In Motion
    • Dress To Riot
    • New Mercy
    • Shelby Clements
    • JORJI
    • Would You Like Fries With That

    Heat one of the Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog competition will take place at Lizotte’s Newcastle this coming Wednesday 3rd September. Doors will open at 6:30pm for a 7:00pm start.

    Guest judges for the event include David Hess from Musos Corner, local musician Peter Kibble and headspace Youth Reference Group member Bronte Taylor. Byron Williams from headspace Newcastle, aka Toe-Fu from Australian hip hop outfit The Herd, will be the MC for the evening.

    Acts will perform a 15-minute set and will be judged according to musicianship, stage presence, originality, and professionalism.

    Audience members will have their say in the ‘People’s Choice’ award for the most popular act on the night, and there will be a lucky door prize for all guests to enter.

    If you love your music and you like supporting local talent, come along on Wednesday evening and experience the Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog competition. You will not be disappointed and entry is only a gold coin donation!

    We’d like to take this opportunity to thank our partner’s headspace Maitland and headspace Newcastle for their support, and acknowledge the contribution of our sponsors APRA AMCOS, EAO Entertainment, Captain Fatt Productions, Headjam, Benchmark Mastering, Musos Corner, Hazy Cosmic Jive Studios and Stacey Cross Photography to make this event possible.

    For more information about the Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog and the upcoming competition heats, please visit: www.himh.org.au/yrbd

  • Wear it Purple Day at the Hunter Institute

    Thursday, 28 August 2014

    Today the Hunter Institute of Mental Health is turning purple in support of a simple message to all young people:
                                                  ‘You have the right to be proud of who you are.’


    Wear It Purple Day raises awareness of the challenges Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) young people face and highlights the need for all young people to be supported, connected and provided with opportunities to set goals and achieve them.

    The Hunter Institute is committed to continue working towards a world in which every young person can thrive; irrelevant of sexuality or gender identity.

    Director of the Hunter Institute, Jaelea Skehan says Wear it Purple Day is a chance for the whole community to show their support of young people who may be experiencing discrimination, homophobia or transphobia.Wear it Purple Day group photo

    “Discrimination and being made to feel 'different' because of sexual or gender identity can make it difficult for people of any age to have a sense of wellbeing. It also makes it harder to ask for help when problems come up.
     
    “As a national leader in mental health and suicide prevention, it is imperative that we as an organisation stand up and say that isolating and discriminating against any person based on their sexual orientation or gender identity cannot be tolerated,” said Jaelea.


    Throughout the week, our staff were invited to reflect on the strengths of LGBTI young people and write messages of support on a ‘purple wall’ which was the feature of a special purple morning tea hosted by the Hunter Institute’s LGBTI Champions Tania Ewin and Alex Culloden.

    Purple board



    To learn more about Wear It Purple Day visit: http://wearitpurple.org

    For more information about the Hunter Institute involvement in the LGBTI Champions project click here

  • Hunter Institute receives APRA AMCOS grant for youth band competition

    Thursday, 28 August 2014

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health has been awarded an APRA AMCOS music grant for its annual Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog band competition for 2014.

    The $2,000 grant will support a free one-day songwriting workshop for competition participants and other young musicians, and assist to fund a number of cash prizes during the competition including ‘Best Original Song’ and ‘Best Original Lyrics’.

    Director of the Hunter Institute, Jaelea Skehan welcomed the grant and thanked APRA AMCOS for considering the Youth Rockin the Black Dog competition in this year’s funding round.

    “It is exciting to be recognised for the great project we run for young people, which not only supports them to be creative and gain new experiences, but more importantly raises awareness of local mental health services and encourages a greater understanding of mental health issues. I am proud that the important work we are pursuing in the youth mental health and arts area is supported by the Australian music industry.”

    The annual youth band competition is due to kick-off next week with the first heat to be held at Lizotte’s Newcastle on Wednesday 3 September.

    Information about the free songwriting workshop will be posted on the Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog webpage in the coming weeks, so keep an eye out!

    For more information please visit www.himh.org.au/yrbd

    Want to be updated on the Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog competition? Follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/YRBDbandcomp


     

     

     

     

     

     

  • Director Announcement at the Hunter Institute

    Thursday, 21 August 2014

    For the past two years, the Hunter Institute of Mental Health has been led by Jaelea Skehan as our Acting Director. We are pleased to announce that Jaelea has accepted a permanent appointment to the role of Director and will be leading the organisation into the future.

    Jaelea Skehan is an internationally respected leader in the prevention of mental illness and the prevention of suicide. She is passionate about translating evidence into practice and building the capacity of individuals, families, organisations and communities to be involved in mental health and suicide prevention.

    Jaelea is an advocate for finding better connections between research and practice and for ensuring a national focus on the promotion of mental health and wellbeing, and the prevention of mental ill-health to complement treatment and recovery approaches. 

    Jaelea is leading new strategic directions for the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, including the development of key research partnerships and addressing current gaps in national and state priorities for mental health and suicide prevention. She is looking forward to releasing the Institute’s new strategic plan in the coming months.

    Following her recent appointment, Jaelea made the following statement:

     

    Jaelea statement

     

    You can read more about Jaelea by accessing her bio here 

  • HIMH Director to discuss workplace mental health at QLD Mining Industry Health and Safety Conference

    Tuesday, 19 August 2014

    Mental illness is ranked third in Australia’s burden of illness after cancer and cardiovascular disease, making it a major issue for workplaces and industries. 

    Hunter Institute of Mental Health Director, Jaelea Skehan is today raising the issue at this year’s Queensland Mining Industry Health and Safety Conference (QMIHSC).

    “Workplaces offer a unique setting to promote mental health and wellbeing and to respond early and well to those experiencing mental illness. Besides, it is where many Australians spend most of their waking hours.”

    “It leads to absenteeism, presenteeism, injuries and ultimately lower productivity. Not to mention the effects on the person, their family and the wider community.” Ms Skehan said.

    While there has been much commentary about the prevalence of mental health problems in the mining industry, there is limited reliable evidence to suggest that mental ill-health is either more or less prevalent than in other industries. 

    “But even assuming that the mining workforce experienced mental ill-health at the same rates as the general population, that would still mean up to 25,000 mining employees nation-wide, in any one year, may experience anxiety, depression or substance use disorders,” Ms Skehan said.

    An ACARP funded study is being conducted in NSW and QLD by the University of Newcastle and the Hunter Institute of Mental Health to better understand the scope and impacts of mental health problems in the mining industry and to pilot interventions that improve wellbeing and get people to support early.

    “Interventions in any workplace setting are most effective when individuals as well as organisation systems and structures are targeted, so the Working Well project is working with identified coal mines to review current policies and practices, deliver specific training to supervisors and leaders as well as general staff education that will allow them to support their mates if and when things get hard,” said Jaelea.

    Ms Skehan will be joined by Professor Brian Kelly, University of Newcastle to facilitate a two-part workshop, which will cover:

    • Introduction: A strategic approach to improving mental health in the mining industry
    • How mines can be mentally healthy workplaces and what to do if people are struggling

    The workshop will run for 90 minutes, from 1:30pm today, at Townsville Entertainment and Conference Centre.

    For more information about the Working Well project, and the ACARP funded study, please visit: www.himh.org.au/workingwell

    For more information about the QMIHS Conference, please visit: http://qrc.org.au/conference/

     


  • NSW Mental Health Commissioner to open mental health stream at DiG Festival

    Thursday, 14 August 2014

    John Feneley bio photoNSW Mental Health Commissioner John Feneley will give the opening address at the DiG Festival in October, to kick off this year’s inaugural mental health stream at the Newcastle conference.

    The Commissioner will open the new stream a kick-start a multi-sector discussion about how advances in technology have changed the way we think about mental health.

    The Mental Health Commission of NSW is an independent statutory agency which drives improvements in the mental health and wellbeing of the people of NSW. In all its activities it seeks to reflect the needs and wishes of people who live with mental illness, and their families and carers.

    To deliver this new addition to the festivals program, the Hunter Institute of Mental Health has partnered with the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre to develop a dynamic and interactive mental health, technology and innovation stream.

    Director of the Hunter Institute, Jaelea Skehan says the Commissioner’s involvement signifies the importance of embracing new innovation in mental health.skehan feneley blanchard photo

    “It is important that we all work together to find new ways of providing services as well as new ways of engaging and mobilising the community”.

    “Commissioner Feneley has been an advocate for rethinking the way we organise and deliver our work in mental health and we look forward to his contribution at the DiG Festival”

    “The integration of a health stream in the festival will allow business, education providers, technology providers together with young people, academics and experts from the field to network and share successes and idea’s for the future,” said Miss Skehan. 

    Additional topics and speakers have been released this week, including a panel discussion on “How have advances in technology changed the way we think about mental health?” and sessions on:

    • Young People, Social Media and Suicide Prevention
    • Hacking mental health - exploring creative technology solutions for mental health issues 
    • Visualising Ambient Play
    • Technology Helps Save Lives in Suicide Prevention
    • Got a lot going on? No Shame in talking it out
    • It's worth a try - integrating technology into the treatment of mental health and addictive disorders
    • How tele-health will shape our health system in the future: using technology to save lives
    • Keeping young Indigenous people engaged, connected and safe online.

    The conference organisers also welcome our first two major supporters of the mental health stream, SANE Australia and On the Line.

                        SANE Australia logo                              On the Line logo

    To coincide with this health stream announcement, DiG festival is running a 72 hour sale on conference tickets from 9am Friday 15 August. For more information and to purchase your discounted tickets, visit http://www.himh.org.au/home/events/dig-festival/

  • Hunter Institute welcomes new report from ACON

    Thursday, 14 August 2014

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health welcomes the recently released ACON Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy 2013-2018.

    The strategy was developed following extensive consultation with target communities and stakeholders, and details how ACON plans to reduce negative impacts on the mental health of LGBTI people, as well as increase factors which contribute to good mental wellbeing.

    The Hunter Institute is committed to supporting mental health and suicide prevention in LGBTI communities and is proud to have been involved as members of the ‘Mental Health Strategic Working Group’.

    Director of the Hunter Institute Jaelea Skehan says, “Our organisation has an ongoing commitment to the health and wellbeing of LGBTI people and is proud to have been involved in the development of this important strategy.

    “We congratulate our key partners ACON on the release of this significant document, which highlights the need for ongoing partnership and collaboration.”

    One of the key recommendations from the strategy was to strengthen existing partnerships with mental health agencies and researchers.

    The Hunter Institute was identified as one of the key partners, including future implementation of the Conversations Matter resource which is managed by the organisation.

    “Ensuring that our programs are inclusive and support the strength and resilience of people who identify as LGBTI is a key priority for the Hunter Institute and we look forward to maintaining our strong partnership with ACON,” said Jaelea.

    “For the past 12 months the Hunter Institute has been involved in the LGBTI Champion Pilot project, an important part of the nationally funded MindOUT! project in which organisational champions are identified to assist the organisation to optimise its service delivery to LGBTI people by ensuring that the service is responsive, inclusive and safe.”

    For more information about the Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy 2013-2018 click here

    To find out about the Hunter Institute’s involvement in the LGBTI Champions Project click here

  • Hunter Institute Director urges media and mental health sectors to continue supporting safe and helpful discussions around high profile suicide

    Wednesday, 13 August 2014

    Hunter Institute of Mental Health Director Jaelea Skehan today urged the Australian media and the mental health and suicide prevention sector to continue working together to ensure messages going out to the community following the death of American actor and comedian Robin Williams are safe and helpful.

    The news of Robin William’s death has hit the Australian community hard, with an outpouring of sadness and many with personal experience of suicide reporting feeling helpless and hopeless.

    The Hunter Institute manages the Mindframe National Media Initiative, which provides advice, education and training for the Australia media on reporting suicide and supports the mental health and suicide prevention sectors in their messaging and response to media stories.

    “The Mindframe team at the Hunter Institute has been working directly with the Australian media and leading National organisations in mental health and suicide prevention over the past 24 hours,” said Ms Skehan.

    “This story is obviously in the public interest, but we all need to remember the importance of reporting as responsibly as possible given how connected many people in Australia feel to the death of Robin Williams.

    “The amount of coverage is understandable, but still concerning – with every media outlet and all social media channels continuing to discuss the death.”

    Staff at the Hunter Institute of Mental Health have been encouraged by the way media have responded to alerts and sought advice, but Jaelea Skehan urges them to remain vigilant over the coming days and look for opportunities to present stories that provide hope.

    “It can be challenging for Australian media to report on deaths when details are coming through from international media sources. It is important for editors, sub-editors and senior staff to consider how to best manage live-feeds and specific details about the death.

    “It is important for the media to work with our national organisations over the coming days and weeks and look for opportunities to provide helpful and accurate information to the community and messages of hope and recovery.”

    With many community members turning to social media to express their distress, both media and the mental health sector are urged to increase their monitoring of online comments and posts to link community members directly into support and assistance.

    “Many people have been turning to social media channels to talk about how the death of Robin Williams has affected them personally.

    “It is a timely reminder to all of us to use those opportunities to connect with people and encourage them to talk to someone they trust or a confidential support service.

    “It is important for everyone to know that while some people will experience sadness at the news, for others the feelings may go beyond sadness to despair.

    “We need to look for every opportunity to ensure people know they are not alone, that they can get through tough times, and that it is ok to seek support.”

    To view the complete Mindframe media alert sent to Australian media professionals, please click here.

    Media can find further advice by visiting the Mindframe website or contacting the Mindframe project team at the Hunter Institute on:

    Tel: 02 4924 6904 (0427 227 503) Email: mindframe@hnehealth.nsw.gov.au  Twitter: @MindframeMedia

    Please add the following 24/7 crisis support to stories:
     
    Lifeline 13 11 14 www.lifeline.org.au 
    Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467 www.suicidecallbackservice.org.au 
    MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78 www.mensline.org.au 
     
    For young people:
     
    Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800 www.kidshelp.com.au
    headspace 1800 650 890 www.headspace.org.au

    For media comment in relation to this story, please phone 0414 292403 or email brooke.cross@hnehealth.nsw.gov.au



  • Mindframe advice for media when reporting suicide

    Tuesday, 12 August 2014

    With speculation in some media this morning that US Actor Robin Williams has taken his own life, Australian media professionals are reminded to be cautious and responsible when covering the death.

    With the story obviously in the public interest and receiving ongoing coverage, it’s important the media continue to report responsibly given that repeated and sustained coverage can increase the risk to those that are vulnerable or distressed.

    Suicide is a complex issue and sensationalist or inaccurate reporting of this subject can impact on vulnerable members of the community.

    • A guide to safe reporting of suicide is available here.

    • Adding help-seeking information to your stories can provide somewhere for people who may be impacted by the coverage to find professional support. A list of 24-hour crisis lines can be found here.

    • Australian media industry codes and standards on the issue of reporting suicide can be found here.

    • Covering suicide can be traumatic. Self-care resources are available to journalists from the DART Centre for Journalism & Trauma here.

    QUICK TIPS FOR JOURNALISTS WHEN REPORTING SUICIDE:

     

    What about celebrity suicide 

    National 24/7 Crisis Services

     

    Minimise details about method and location

     

    Consider the language you use 

    Further advice can be found by visiting the Mindframe website or contacting:


    • The Mindframe project team Tel: 02 4924 6904 (0427 227 503); Email: mindframe@hnehealth.nsw.gov.au; Twitter: @MindframeMedia.


    • The SANE Media Centre Tel: 03 9682 5933 Mob: 0414 427 291; Email: media@sane.org

     

     

     

     

  • Supporting Jeans for Genes Day

    Friday, 1 August 2014

    It is not very often we do dress down Friday, but today the Hunter Institute of Mental Health have done away with the dress pants in exchange for denim, and for a very good cause! It is Jeans for Genes Day.

    With the Child Illness Resilience Program (CHiRP) proudly supporting families within our community who care for children with an illness, we could not think of a better cause to get behind to raise money and awareness for birth defects and genetic diseases. Every dollar raised on the day helps scientists at the Children’s Medical Research Institute discover treatments and cures, to give every child the opportunity to live a long and healthy life.

    With two in five families caring for a child living with a chronic illness, the CHiRP team understands how important further research into child illness is. We are very happy to support such a worthy cause.

    For parents and families who are currently supporting a child living with an illness, you can find support and factsheets within our website – www.himh.org.au/chirp

    Jeans for genes

     

  • Institute program profiled under the LIFE video series

    Tuesday, 29 July 2014

    Today LIFE Communications released a video to showcase the Mindframe National Media Initiative, managed by the Hunter Institute of Mental Health.  Mindframe aims to encourage responsible, accurate and sensitive representation of mental illness and suicide in the Australian mass media and involves building a collaborative relationship with the media and other sectors that influence the media.

    The program was selected as one of six National Suicide Prevention Program (NSPP) projects and guided by the LIFE framework, an overarching strategic policy framework for suicide prevention in Australia.

    Director of the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, Jaelea Skehan features in the video to provide some context for the Mindframe initiative with an overview of media’s important role in informing communities about suicide and mental illness.  While, Mindframe Program Manager Marc Bryant from the Hunter Institute of Mental Health elaborates on the various components of the Mindframe National Media Initiative and speaks of the different sectors the online resource is available to.

    Also featured is Natalie Ahmet from NITV News and speaks about the importance of media using the Mindframe guidelines to uphold their responsibility to society, their readers and viewers to ensure their stories don’t cause any undue distress to anyone affected by suicide.

    The video can be accessed from the LIFE Communications website  http://www.livingisforeveryone.com.au/mindframe-video-series.html

    Or to learn more about the Mindframe National Media Initiative, visit the Mindframe website http://www.mindframe-media.info

  • Director presents on new The way back resources at national suicide prevention conference

    Friday, 25 July 2014

    Jaelea Skehan, Director of the Hunter Institute will today present on the newly released The way back information projects resources at the National Suicide Prevention Australia Conference in Perth.

    Developed by the Hunter Institute, the new suite of resources were released by beyondblue Chairman Jeff Kennett AC on Monday 21 July. The three booklets were developed to support people following a suicide attempt and were proudly funded with donations from the Movember Foundation.

    Jaelea will be joined by Susan Beaton to present The way back Information Resources Project: Developing evidence-based information resources for people who have attempted suicide and their family and friends. The presentation will outline the process used to develop the resource and key outcomes from each stage of the process.

    Jaelea will also co-present with project team members who represented those with lived experience,
    Mic Eales and De Backman-Hoyle in a second paper titled Needs and views of people who have attempted suicide and their family and friends. The presentation will discuss the way that people’s lived experience was integrated and used in the project and report on outcomes of the consultation with 37 people with direct experience of suicide attempts.

    Both presentations will be delivered in a concurrent session stream titled ‘Support after suicide attempt’ from 11:25pm today (Perth time).

    To view/download the conference presentations, please visit the Hunter Institute’s conference presentations and papers webpage, or the Hunter Institute slideshare account.

    For more information about the National Suicide Prevention Conference in Perth, visit http://suicidepreventionaust.org/conferences/

  • Director’s tribute to 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award winner Prof Graham Martin OAM

    Thursday, 24 July 2014

    G MartinLast night, the winners of the 2014 LiFE Awards for Excellence in Suicide Prevention were announced in Perth to coincide with the National Suicide Prevention Conference. There were many very deserving winners, but there was no louder or more spontaneous cheer than when the Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Professor Graham Martin OAM.

    Our Director, Jaelea Skehan, felt compelled to write this personal post from Perth (over an early morning coffee). In Jaelea’s words:

    Yesterday morning I was running a workshop with two young and bright staff members from the Hunter Institute of Mental Health. As part of the opening, one of the staff commented that this was her second suicide prevention conference and since she was so early in her career she was really looking forward to learning from others, particularly people in the room (and the conference more broadly) who had been leading the way in suicide prevention for many years.

    I remember at that moment reflecting on who I would consider to be the leaders in suicide prevention, and more importantly, who the people were who nurtured my career and supported me in those early and formative years – when I too was in my 20s and starting my career in suicide prevention.

    Graham Martin was one of a handful of people that came to mind in that moment.  Since I was meant to be assisting with the workshop it was only a fleeting thought until later in the night when the Lifetime Achievement Award for suicide prevention was award to the very same man I thought of earlier in the day.

    In a week where we have seen a vocal medical professional suspended for forgetting the value “first do no harm” it was validating to celebrate a medical professional who has dedicated his life to people – whether they be the people he works with and for, or the colleagues he has supported and mentored over the years.

    To steal from his official bio, Graham Martin is a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist with skills in individual and family therapy. His research interests are in Early Intervention and Promotion of Mental Health with special reference to prevention of suicide. He has been the Director of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services in South Australia and Queensland and has been dedicated to suicide prevention since 1987. In fact, he was one of the pioneers of our first ever National Youth Suicide Prevention Program and had sat on the National Advisory Council for Suicide Prevention.

    Graham was Suicide Prevention Australia’s (SPA) chairman from the mid-1990s, led the team developing the first Media and Suicide Resource Kit (‘Achieving the Balance’, 1998) that later turned into the Mindframe National Media Initiative, and among many other things awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia in 2006. In recent years he has led the way in redefining how we think about and treat self-injury, completing the largest ever national survey of self-injury.

    I met, and got to work with, Graham Martin early in my career. And while many people in a position such as his would be quick to dismiss a young psychologist from Newcastle until perhaps she had “earned her stripes”, Graham is one of those people who encouraged and supported me and many others. 

    Graham is the person who says what everyone else in the room is thinking but perhaps doesn’t have the courage or eloquence to say. He is committed to translating research into practice and he has always reminded us to keep ‘people’ at the centre of what we do.  

    On behalf of the Hunter Institute of Mental Health (who has had the privilege of working with you on mental health promotion and suicide prevention programs since the late 1990s) I would like to offer a heartfelt congratulations.  It is people like you that I think of and draw strength from. And it is people like you who I will try to emulate to ensure I inspire and lead people who will come after me. 

    It was a shame that Graham could not travel to Perth to accept the award – perhaps more of a shame for those of us in the sector who would have liked to say “thank you” in person – rather than over twitter.

    His award was accepted on his behalf by another great mentor of mine A/Professor Myfanwy Maple who is a member of the current SPA Board.  In accepting the award she said:

    “It gives me very great pleasure to accept this award on behalf of Professor Graham Martin. His are very big boots to fill. He holds a special place in my life as one of my PhD examiners, and therefore one of the very few people in the world who has read my PhD from cover to cover.

    “Many of you know Graham. Graham has played such an important role in suicide prevention in Australia for such a long time, I could hazard a guess there would be few, if any, in this room who can remember the sector without Graham's presence. By the applause for him being awarded this, I can assume I am right.

    “He has contributed in so many ways, and continues to do so. He is in a place where he can challenge the status quo. And I do believe that all good conferences should be about challenges. So I am going to read to you the content of an email that some of us received recently. I have been in communication with Graham and he has given me permission to share this with you. To me, this captures the essence of the sector from a wise man who has seen it all, “ said A/Prof. Maple.

    So in Graham's words (and reproduced here with Graham’s blessing):

    “The transverse myelitis of my spinal cord continues to leave me quite handicapped, even after nearly 5 years. The myriad symptoms make life difficult and unpredictable and I have given up travelling and conferences in favour of writing lots of books.

    “I am sorry not to have contributed to your process but after 35 years of heading up conferences, 30 years of suicide prevention research, and 20 years of racing around being on national and numerous other committees, generally pretending to be important and “believing we were getting somewhere, I believe now that we have been somewhat defeated by bureaucratic process at all levels, and the massive resistance to evaluating our own work.

    “My preference is to write as much as I can in the next few years, goading the field to evaluate, and shifting the focus to actual intervention programs, rather than arguing about minutiae, and organising more committees to discuss it all. That may sound jaded, but I hasten to assure people I am not. I remain dedicated to suicide prevention, and am likely to remain so,” he said.

    Congratulations to all the other award winners, particularly to the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre that the Hunter Institute of Mental Health is a partner of, and colleagues from Mates in Construction who are currently working with us on interventions for the Mining Industry in NSW and QLD.  You can read about all the winners on the Suicide Prevention Australia website http://suicidepreventionaust.org/news/

  • Showcasing suicide prevention work at national conference in WA

    Tuesday, 22 July 2014

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health (Hunter Institute) heads to Perth this week to showcase key projects at the 2014 National Suicide Prevention Conference.  

    The 2014 National Suicide Prevention Conference ‘Many Communities, One Goal’ is hosted by Suicide Prevention Australia (SPA) in Perth (23 - 26 July), with more than 300 delegates attending. 

    Hunter Institute Director Jaelea Skehan will chair the key SPA plenary panel ‘Postvention is the Prevention of Suicide for the Future’ on Thursday (2.30pm – 4.00pm).

    Jaelea will also lead three conference presentations:

    • Conversations Matter when discussing suicide in Aboriginal communities (Thursday 12:15pm - 12:40pm)
    • The way back Information Resources Project: Developing evidence-based information resources for people who have attempted suicide and their family and friends (Friday 11:25am - 11:50am)
    • Needs and views of people who have attempted suicide and their family members and friends (Friday 11:50am - 12:15pm)

    Meanwhile, the Hunter Institute team at the event will lead a SPA pre-conference workshop for
    Conversations Matter on Wednesday 23 July (8:30am - 10:30am).

    The workshop is for professionals on how best to engage with and support communities when discussing suicide.

    The workshop also features the Mindframe National Media Initiative (Mindframe) on responsible reporting of suicide and mental illness. To register for the workshop, contact michelle.bye@eecw.com.au  (limited to 40 participants).

    Mindframe, which is managed by the Hunter Institute, will also present on ‘Moving with the times: Mindframe’s revised guidelines for media reporting of suicide and mental illness’ on the Friday (12:15pm - 12:40pm).

    A Mindframe poster will also be shown throughout the conference, featuring the self-care resources for media professionals developed in partnership with the Dart Centre Asia Pacific.

    “The Hunter Institute has a long history of involvement in the National Suicide Prevention Conference we’re looking forward to sharing some of the suicide prevention work we’ve been leading at the Hunter Institute and also hearing about the work of our sector colleagues,” said Jaelea.

    Jaelea will be joined at the conference by Tegan Cotterill and Alexandra Culloden, who will be on hand at a trade display featuring resources and information from the range of projects managed by the Hunter Institute.

    Meanwhile, in recognition of the ongoing commitment to support safe and responsible reporting of suicide, Mindframe has been nominated for a Life Award in the Communication category. The Life Awards are a prestigious national event that attracts nominations from all areas including business, industry, media, community, government, research and medicine – all with an interest in suicide prevention.

    The winners will be announced at the Life Awards ceremony on Wednesday evening (6pm - 8:30pm).

    For further information about the conference click here

  • Released today: New practical resources to support people who have attempted suicide

    Monday, 21 July 2014

    A new suite of resources developed by the Hunter Institute of Mental Health have today been released by beyondblue Chairman Jeff Kennett AC.

    The three new booklets were developed to support people following a suicide attempt and were proudly funded with donations from the Movember Foundation. The resources include:

    The new resources were developed following a review of evidence and policies and consultations conducted with clinicians, academics and those with lived experience of a suicide attempt. They include quotes and tips from people who have attempted suicide and family members and friends that have provided support.

    Jaelea Skehan, Director of the Hunter Institute of Mental Health said that the resources would fill a national gap and believes the way they were developed will make them relevant to individuals, families and services.

    “We know that approximately 65,000 people in Australia make a suicide attempt each year, yet until now specific information resources have been lacking.”

    “It was important in developing the resources that we used the research evidence but also ensured that the views and expertise of those with lived experience were front and centre” she said.

    Specific resources to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people following a suicide attempt were also released today by beyondblue.

    Jaelea Skehan, said the input of national and all state peak Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander services and community controlled organisations was vital.

    “The development of the resource was a partnership between the project team, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander services, their workers and community members” she said.

    To coincide with the release of the resource booklets today, the Hunter Institute of Mental Health has also released the consultation report which helped guide the development of the resources. 

    The report provides a summary of in-depth interviews held with nearly 40 people with direct experience of a suicide attempt and describes the enormous stigma they face, the difficulties they have experienced in obtaining support and also their recommendations for how community understanding could be improved.

    Ms Skehan said that the consultation with people who had attempted suicide and their family and friends was critical.

    “The views and experiences of those with lived experience shaped the development of the resources and their words are used throughout”.

    “What we learnt from the consultation was not only useful to the current project, but will help inform broader suicide prevention activities” she said.

    The full consultation report is available here.

    The Hunter Institute wishes to recognise the range organisations and people who supported The way back information resources project and had input, including those with lived experience of suicide attempt and the family members and friends who spoke with staff during the consultation process.

    We would also like to thank the organisations and services that were involved in the development and pilot of the resources.

    For more information about The way back resources please visit the Hunter Institute program webpage.

  • DiG Festival initial speakers and presentations announced!

    Friday, 18 July 2014

    Today the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, in partnership with the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre, are delighted to announce the initial presentations and speakers for the DiG Festival major health stream.

    The DiG Festival and Conference is loosely based on the extremely successful South By Southwest (SXSW) festivals in Austin, Texas which are run over 3 weeks and cover Film, Music and Interactive. For the first time ever, the DiG Festival has partnered with the Hunter Institute of Mental Health to introduce a new major health stream in this year’s conference, to be held in Newcastle Town Hall from 16-17 October 2014.

    To deliver this new addition to the festivals program, the Hunter Institute has partnered with the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre to develop a dynamic and interactive mental health, technology and innovation stream.

    Announced today are presentations and speakers that will cover:

    • Communicating about mental health in a digital paradigm
    • Keeping young people safe and engaged online
    • Technologies for health and wellbeing

    To find out more about the health stream presentations, visit www.himh.org.au/digpresentations

    Or, for a list of confirmed speakers for the health stream, visit www.himh.org.au/digspeakers

    For more information about the DiG Festival or to register for the conference, visit www.digfestival.com.au
    or contact Brooke Cross, Senior Communications Officer, Hunter Institute of Mental Health at brooke.cross@hnehealth.nsw.gov.au or call 0414 292 403.

    Stay tuned for the next round of updates!

     

    himh     Dig     yaw

     

  • CHiRP project supports National Diabetes Week

    Friday, 18 July 2014

    National Diabetes Week (13-19 July) is a time where we can all stop and think about Diabetes. More than one million Australians have already been diagnosed with diabetes and another Australian diagnosed every five minutes. For every person that is diagnosed, the CHiRP team recognises that there is usually a family member for carer who also ‘lives with diabetes’ in a support role.

    CHiRP currently supports the Paediatric Outpatient Diabetes Clinic at the John Hunter Children’s Hospital. We understand that alongside the physic complications that many children living with diabetes experience, they are also battling against the emotional complications of diabetes such as stress, disordered eating and depression.

    CHiRP understands how important the role of family is when living with a child with a chronic illness. The theme this year is ‘Diabetes and a Healthy Mind’. CHiRP supports the National Diabetes Week theme in that they truly believe the importance of working on good, positive wellbeing and building resilience within families who are living with a child or young person who has diabetes.

    An initiative of the Hunter Institute of Mental Health and funded by the Greater Charitable Foundation, the CHiRP program promotes family resilience through the provision of a number of resources. Participating families are introduced to information and activities that help them learn coping strategies, ways to improve family functioning and identify sources of support.

    During National Diabetes Week, take the time to support the resilience and wellbeing of your family. Your family is strong! Check out some of our tips on how you can make your family stronger by recognising the strengths that you already have, and working on the areas that need a little more attention.

    • A resilient family recognises each other’s strengths 
    • A resilient family keeps family routines and a sense of stability even during difficult times
    • A resilient family looks after themselves and each other
    • A resilient family talks honestly and clearly with each other
    • A resilient family spends time together and celebrates milestones

    For more information about the CHiRP project please visit our website:
    http://www.himh.org.au/chirp

    For more information on National Diabetes Week, please visit: http://www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/

  • Partners in Mining registrations open!

    Thursday, 10 July 2014

    Partners in Mining is a six week group education program for mine workers and their families who support a person experiencing depression. The program is based on the successful Partners in Depression national program.

    Partners in Mining is being delivered by CS Health workers. Groups are being run in the Upper Hunter from August 2014 at various locations.

    The findings from the Partners in Depression program showed that attending the program can significantly improve the wellbeing of participants. The Partners in Mining pilot is specifically looking at adapting the program for mine workers and their families.


    How can I find out more?

    Please contact Tania on (02) 4924 6947 or email at tania.ewin@hnehealth.nsw.gov.au

    Programs delivered by:          A mental health initiative of:             Funded by:

    CSH logo          himh          CSHST logo

  • Educating our educators is important

    Tuesday, 8 July 2014

    The Hunter Institute are delivering three presentations at this year’s Australian Teacher Education Association Conference (ATEA). The Annual ATEA Conference provides an opportunity for those with an interest in teacher education to exchange ideas pertaining to research, practice and innovations in the fields of teacher education and professional learning. The theme this year is: Teacher Education: An Audit. Building a platform for future engagement. 

    Gavin Hazel, our Child and Youth Program Manager is presenting: A question of fundamentals: teacher standards and teacher preparation. Sarah Hiles, Senior Project Officer for Child and Youth team, is delivering two presentations: Dramatic arts as a teaching and learning tool to promote mental health and Universal mental health promotion to tackle bullying, behavioural problems and big issues.

    The ATEA conference is an annual meeting of Australia’s teacher educators and the Hunter Institute’s Response Ability program supports the preparation of teachers and children's services workers, by providing resources for use in their professional training. The aim of the program is to better prepare these professionals for their roles in mental health promotion, the prevention of mental illness and early intervention.

    The Response Ability team provides free multimedia resources for use by lecturers and tutors in delivering teacher education programs. There are Response Ability components suitable for use in early childhood, primary, middle years and secondary teacher training.

    The Response Ability project team offers a multimedia resource to support the training of children’s services students undertaking the CHC08 Children’s Services courses through Vocational Education and Training organisations.

    For further information about the resources for teachers and children's services workers, visit the Response Ability website at www.responseability.org

    To contact the project team, please e-mail education@hnehealth.nsw.gov.au or telephone us on (02) 4924 6900. 

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     


  • Hunter Institute at Australian first LGBTI mental health conference

    Thursday, 26 June 2014

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health will present several papers at the National LGBTI Health Alliance’s inaugural ‘Courageous Voices: Seeds of hope and transformation’ conference this week 26 - 27 June 2014.

    Being held in Sydney, the conference is the first of its kind in Australia and will examine the individual and social determinants that impact of the mental health outcomes of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people (LGBTI) people.

    The Hunter Institute will be presenting papers on two of its key suicide prevention projects, Conversations Matter and the Mindframe National Media Initiative, as well as co-presenting a 90 minute workshop on the national MindOUT! LGBTI Champions project.

    Alexandra Culloden from the Hunter Institute’s and JOY 94.9’s Conrad Browne will present on recent a Mindframe collaboration with the LGBTI media regarding safe and responsible reporting of suicide and mental illness. Alexandra will also present on the need for safe discussions of suicide in the LGBTI community as part of the Conversations Matter project.

    Alex and Conrad

                                                  Alex and Conrad at our 2014 Mindframe Dinner

    The session will be today from 11-11:20am and 12-12.30pm respectively in the Cook 1 Room at the Pullman Hyde Park.

    The conference is being held on the 45th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, viewed as the birth of what came to be known as the Gay Liberation movement.

    Forty five years on from that momentous event, much has been achieved in advancing the human rights and the health and well-being of LGBTI people. However the over representation of LGBTI people in mental illness and suicide statistics highlight that there is more to be done to improve our mental health status.

    Alexandra, who is also one of the Hunter Institute’s LGBTI Champions, said: “The rates of mental illness, suicide attempts and self harm for LGBTI people are consistently higher than much of the general Australian population which shows that while there has been great work done in improving the mental health and welling being of the LGBTI people ongoing work in this area is vital.

    “I am very much looking forward to presenting on the collaboration with MindOUT! and the work of the Hunter Institute with LGBTI communities over the past 18 months,” she said.

    For more information about Mindframe and Conversations Matter click here and for information on the conference visit http://mindoutconference.net/

  • Winners for 2014 MindPlay drama competition on wellbeing

    Thursday, 19 June 2014

    Whitebridge High School are the winners of this year’s annual schools drama competition MindPlay.

    The school’s Year 11 students delivered an engaging performance called, “Where is my Mind?” to highlight the importance of mental health and wellbeing to impress judges at last night’s final (Thursday June 19). 

    Among six outstanding performances, the drama students addressed the issue in a compelling and informative way. Entries were judged on the accuracy of the mental health message and the quality of their dramatic performance, as well as the way in which the performance addressed attaining wellbeing surrounding mental illness. Judges on the panel had a mixture of health and theatrical backgrounds.

    Hosted by Newcastle-based organisation the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, in partnership with headspace Newcastle and headspace Maitland, the MindPlay drama competition encourages Year 11 drama students from the Hunter and surrounding regions to research, write and perform authentic theatrical pieces that portray mental health topics that can improve community understanding, enhance wellbeing and encourage help-seeking behaviours. 

    Hunter Institute Director Jaelea Skehan said: “Congratulations to Whitebridge High School for a fantastic performance, and to all our finalists who presented with such skill and enthusiasm. 

    “This is the 18th year that MindPlay has been running. Improving young people’s mental health literacy is one of our core values, and MindPlay does a great job of encouraging young people to explore this in a creative way.”

    Whitebridge was awarded a cash prize of $1000, kindly donated by MindPlay sponsors Rotary Club of Newcastle Enterprise. 

    Whitebridge High School

     

    • Second place went to Hunter Valley Grammar School presenting on the topic of “making good choices”. 

    • Third place went to Warners Bay High with their piece on “white noise”.

    • Hunter School of Performing Arts took out the Tantrum Theatre prize for ‘best theatrical technique’.

    Sponsors included: Rotary Club Newcastle Enterprise, headspace Newcastle and Maitland, NCP Printing, Hunter Region Drama School, Tantrum Youth Arts and Headjam.

    Young people can find out more about mental health and mental illness by visiting www.headspace.org.au or www.reachout.com

    More information and photographs of the night are available from www.himh.org.au/mindplay

    For media enquiries, call Marc Bryant on (02) 49246905 or email marc.bryant@hnehealth.nsw.gov.au

  • Day Three and Four reports from the IASP Conference

    Tuesday, 17 June 2014

    Given the weekend in Australia and a few connection problems from Tahiti, Jaelea Skehan sends the following brief report from Days Three and Four of the 6th Asia Pacific Congress for Suicide Prevention.

    There were so many good presentations from Days Three and Four. I will only give you a taster here of some of the topics covered. But first to a scenario that sums up an international conference:

    1. An audience member asks a question in French;
    2. This is translated into English over our headsets;
    3. A second translator then translates the questions from English into Japanese for Tadashi Takeshima who had just given a plenary on national strategies for suicide prevention in Japan;
    4. Then the response is translated from Japanese to English and from English to French.

    And that is how a multilingual and collaborative international conference goes sometimes. A little reminder of how different we are but how similar we are in our pursuit to better understand suicidal behaviour and its impacts, so we know how best to prevent it on a global scale.

    On Day Three, I listened to Mort Silverman from the Suicide Prevention Resource Center in the United States talk about Evaluation of Suicide Prevention Programs. Something that is quite frankly under-funded and under-valued in many countries, including Australia. 

    In many ways, the presentation outlined the challenges in program evaluation – starting with the fact that we aren’t even sure what it is we are trying to do. While we know we should be aiming for results to be statistically significant, peer-reviewed, randomised, and take into account any negatives or false positives, how often do we get there? How often do we even get funded to make a start?

    I was tweeting from Silverman’s plenary session, and made these two comments nearing the end of the talk:

    Governments who fund programs in #suicideprevention must also fund rigorous evaluation of those programs IMO #IASPTahiti

    Different funding streams for #suicideprevention programs and research in Australia is problematic in my view. Need to integrate #IASPTahiti

    Silverman argues that evaluation in suicide prevention is further confounded by the fact that suicide deaths can rarely be used to measure effectiveness because of the population numbers that would be required to reach significance. So what do we use instead – modification of risk factors? Reductions in suicide attempts? Change in knowledge and attitudes? And, how do we account for the interplay between multi-component elements of an intervention or approach?

    Reflecting on our work at the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, Silverman made some validating points towards the end of the presentation.

    Firstly, Silverman recommends that the most practical approach in many programs would be to develop a logic model (you can find one for all of our programs at HIMH) with expected short-term outcomes, intermediate outcomes, and longterm outcomes.

    Silverman finished by discussing the relative role of risk and protective factors, summarising by saying: “focusing on protective factors such as emotional wellbeing and connectedness to family was as effective or more effective than trying to reduce risk factors”.

    In Australia we need to articulate and monitor the overlap between strategies to promote wellbeing, connection and resilience and our efforts to prevent suicide and its impacts.

    On Day Three, I also attended a session of three papers on cultural aspects of suicide that included a presentation from Japan, Tahiti and from Jemaima Tiatia-Seath from New Zealand talking about pacific peoples and suicide in NZ.

    Here are some of my selected tweets from the session:

    Listening to an interesting case-study presentation about child and youth suicide in French Polynesia #IASPTahiti

    The role of family is an important protective factor but also need to understand family dynamics to assess risk #IASPTahiti

    It appears from selected case-studies that 'punishing a parent' may be a factor in child suicide in French Polynesia #IASPTahiti

    A number of contributing factors associated w Pacific suicide in NZ - intergenerational conflicts, clusters, diability, gender #IASPTahiti

    Also factors like harsh physical discipline (w youth), LGBTIQ, acculturative stress, lack of cultural competence in services #IASPTahiti

    Need better ethic breakdown of data related to suicide in NZ - we need the same in Australia (my note) #IASPTahiti

     

    Day Four of the conference started with anticipation. Not just because it was the final day of the conference but because Australia was to play their first game in the FIFA World Cup. Even better, it was scheduled for lunch-time in Tahiti so I would get to see it. To cut a long story short, Tahiti TV did not show the game and I got a little grumpy. Good thing there were many highlights from the conference on the final day.

    The day started with my colleague and a bit of a superstar in suicide prevention research, Jane Pirkis, summarising the effectiveness of strategies to reduce deaths at suicide hotspots. She also provided an overview of the Gap Park Strategy in Australia and the data to date. 

    In summary, Jane Pirkis made the following statements:

    • Hotspots are particularly concerning because they are generally highly lethal, cause distress to those who witness the death and can attract media attention – therefore increasing further risk;
    • There are four main types of interventions at hotspots: Restricting access to means (e.g. fencing); Encouraging help-seeking (e.g. telephones and signage); Increasing the likelihood of intervention by a third party (e.g. lighting, gatekeeper training); Proving guidance on responsible reporting of suicide;
    • There is consistent and strong evidence that reducing access to means is effective in averting suicides and does not lead to substitution. The evidence is weaker for the other three approaches but promising with more studies needed.

    Following Jane in the plenary session was Lakshmi Vijayakumar from India talking about the role of volunteers and innovative approaches to develop a suicide prevention 'workforce' in India, where the proportion of psychiatrists and psychologists is very low. After morning tea, Kairi Kolves from AISRAP presented on suicidal behaviours in children and adolescents. Kairi is excellent at presenting data in a simple way, and I think gets the prize for most presentations at the conference. She was a busy lady.

    After lunch, it was my time to present again in a session about postvention, law and ethics. I was able to present the process for developing resources to support people who had attempted suicide and their families for beyondblue. Given the paper will also be presented at the National Suicide Prevention Conference in Perth in July, we have not yet loaded it onto SlideShare, but watch this space. There was only an afternoon workshop on using new media in suicide prevention between me and the closing event and conference dinner (and it turns out Tahiti fashion week event).  

    Congratulations to the International Association for Suicide Prevention and especially to Stephane Amadeo and his team who organised the conference. While the numbers were smaller this year, it actually made for a very interactive conference. I have many discussions to follow-up on once back in the office, with plans to collaborate on two more research projects in Australia and one in Hong Kong, and a plan to get a colleague out from the US to Australia early next year.

    It will be a shame to leave this nice weather and friendly people to return to Australia, but there is much work still to be done and I am as committed as ever to the journey ahead.

  • MindPlay Grand Final 2014 fast approaching

    Tuesday, 17 June 2014

    Six finalists from thirteen schools throughout the Hunter and surrounding regions have been chosen from an audition round to perform at the MindPlay Grand Final event this Thursday 19 June, at the Hunter Theatre Broadmeadow.

     

    Gosford High in 2013

     

    MindPlay is an exciting annual drama competition for Year 11 students in the Hunter and surrounding regions that provides an accessible means for young people to explore mental health topics. The competition fosters creativity and connection among students, while promoting mental health awareness and early help-seeking behaviours.

    Audition performances were scored by judges who have backgrounds in theatre and mental health. Scoring criteria emphasised the quality of performance and accuracy of this year's MindPlay theme of 'wellbeing'.

    Finalists for the event include:

    • Hunter School of Performing Arts
    • Hunter Valley Grammar School
    • Lambton High School
    • Toronto High School
    • Warners Bay High School
    • Whitebridge High School

    To purchase tickets to attend the Grand Final, or for more information about the MindPlay competititon, please visit our Hunter Institute Events Page. 

  • Day Two wrap up at the IASP Conference

    Friday, 13 June 2014

    Director, Jaelea Skehan sends the following brief report from Day 2 at the 6th Asia Pacific Congress for Suicide Prevention.

    There is something very relaxing about waking up at a conference venue to bright blue skies, sunshine and a view of water. There is something much less relaxing about waking up at 3.30am Australian time. So, the lovely staff working the breakfast shift know to bring me the largest pot of coffee they have and keep it coming.

    The first full day of the conference had two plenary sessions followed by two breakout sessions. There was a mix of speakers from French Polynesia and from other Asian Pacific (and European) countries, with a strong presence of Australian and New Zealand speakers in the afternoon sessions. 

    The following is just a brief snapshot of some of the presentations I attended on Day Two. There will be more next week, given I have now offered to write a conference wrap for Croakey blog.

    The most interesting of the morning sessions for me, was a plenary which included Louis Jehel from Martinique talking about suicide and psychotrauma, and Lanny Berman from the USA who talked about clinical assessment of suicidal patients.

    I was interested to hear from Louis Jehel, not just because I got to wear the translation headphones that make me feel like I am at the UN, but because the topic is an important one. I was also interested to hear of any cultural differences from presentations I have previously heard on the topic.

    Jehel started by outlining how better knowledge of cerebral imaging is helping us to better understand the links between suicide and psychotrauma (but I would not do this justice if I attempted it). Apart from talking about the ‘science’ and the relationship between the two, he also talked about the similarities between suicide and psychotrauma in terms of community attitudes. Just as suicide is a taboo in society (perhaps even more so in certain cultural groups and societies), psychotrauma such as sexual assault is also taboo. They are both difficult to understand, difficult to talk about and invoke diverse cultural beliefs. (As a side note – at the end of the presentation I was able to witness some of that cultural diversity of beliefs and traditions, but it is not to be covered here).

    His presentation also touched on the relationship between early experiences of psychotrauma (e.g. child sexual abuse) and suicide risk in later life. For me, it reinforced the importance of thinking about suicide prevention not only as responding to individuals currently in crisis, but putting some of our focus onto reducing or preventing the factors that increase risk. In essence, the social determinants of health should not be forgotten. While the social determinants will be the same or similar across cultures, obviously the risks to those determinants will lie in the context of cultural and social factors.

    The next presenter in the same plenary session was Lanny Berman from the USA, who is a constant feature at IASP conferences (and the past president) talking about clinical assessment of suicidal patients. He started with an analogy, which in my view is a very important one to remember – there is a difference between a list of ingredients and a recipe. A list of ingredients will tell you all of the items you need but will not tell you what to do with them.

    In the same way, we could consider that traditional risk assessments are the ‘list of ingredients’ (the collecting of data and information) but having a model of risk formulation is the ‘recipe’ (so how we apply the information).Often however, our clinical work will stop at the risk assessment stage. We collect data on the presence versus absence of risk and protective factors and assume, somehow, that these will lead to an assessment or prediction about relative risk.

    Lanny questioned a number of general assumptions we make about risk assessments outlining that standard risk assessments often place the balance of power on whether the person currently reports suicidal ideation (or thoughts about suicide). In a classic approach, if there is no current ideation then the formulation is often that risk is low. He argues there is no rational basis for this assumption. In fact, the evidence suggests that almost 80% of people have denied suicidal thinking when asked in clinical settings prior to an attempt or death.

    He also made some valid points about the language we use in risk assessment and the fact that items which regularly appear on a risk assessment (e.g. Ideation, Plan, Lethality, Access and Intent) are not mutually exclusive, but in fact interact with each other. Lanny finished with an overview of current models from the research literature – but for brevity I will just suggest you look up research from people such as Beautrais, Maltsberger and Buie, Joiner and the AAS.

    In the afternoon I presented in a break-out session on schools and workplaces. I was joined by colleague (and travel buddy) Jo Robinson from Orygen Youth Health who also presented two papers in the session. One was co-authored by Gill Green from the UK on the roll out of the STORM program to school staff in Australia, as part of the Headspace School Support Initiative titled, “Skills-based training in Australian secondary schools: A workshop to showcase an effective training model for gatekeeper staff”. The second paper reported on a state-wide Victorian survey with school staff titled, “A statewide survey examining the views of school wellbeing staff with regard to suicide prevention in schools”. 

    The other presentation in the session was from Heiarii Lehartel who manages the Tahiti suicide prevention Facebook page. He talked (once translated into English) about the development of their Facebook page and the learnings they’ve had so far, in a paper titled “Facebook: Solidarity to ‘SOS Suicide’ in French Polynesia. 
    I was the final presenter in the session and following some technical glitches (yes the PowerPoint didn’t work properly), and needing to adapt the presentation to allow for translation (since my French is clearly not up to scratch), I was able to present on the process we used to develop the Conversation Matter resources for discussing suicide in Australia. For those interested, the slides are now available on the HInstMH SlideShare account here.

    I have to say a huge thank you to Brian Mishara (from Quebec, Canada) who kindly translated all four presentations in our session. He actually turned up to translate Heiarii’s presentation from French into English, but upon discovering that the audience was three quarters French speaking he stepped in and translated three presentations from English to French and one presentation from French to English. Gold star for you Brian! I did promise to brush up on my French before the International congress in Quebec next year – perhaps it is time to hire a French speaking staff member? 

    The final session of the day was a workshop run by Jane Pirkis (my long-time colleague and PhD supervisor) about the evidence related to media reporting of suicide. Jane did a clear and thorough job of outlining the research evidence as well as the different international approaches for applying that evidence. I was actually sitting with Paul Yip from Hong Kong who was one of the researchers being cited in the presentation.

    The Mindframe National Media Initiative in Australia (which is led by our organisation) featured heavily given that our active dissemination approach has been our point of difference internationally. The session finished with an interesting discussion about reporting of suicide in French Polynesia where we also discovered that a local newspaper journalist (their only English speaking one) had come along to the presentation. A quick trip to my room and he had a copy of the new Mindframe Media resources in his hands and an offer from me to come back to Tahiti – perhaps next June when winter hits again in Australia (yes, that was me taking one for the team!). Paul Yip had also managed to design a neat little media study in Tahiti in just five minutes – I will be surprised if he hasn’t just written it up overnight and submitted it to ethics for approval.

    One of the things I find useful about the IASP conference is that while presentations are diverse, there does seem to be a greater representation of academics who attend the conference. In contrast, many of our national conferences I would argue have a stronger focus and input from government and non-government programs, clinicians and those with lived experience. Perhaps it is the reason I regularly attend our National conference (run by Suicide Prevention Australia and due to occur in Perth in July) as well as the international congresses. I rarely consider myself a researcher nor a practitioner – rather somewhere in between. A translator perhaps? Not the kind that translates English into French of course, but the kind that translates Research into Practice. 

    Considering it will be Saturday in Australia tomorrow (and generally I don’t make staff work weekends), the final instalment from Tahiti will come to you on Monday.

    For the record, I attended a pearl factory last night and left my wallet in my bag. Gold star for me (and my bank balance).

    Au Revoir

    Jaelea

     

  • Project to support men’s mental health and the mining community

    Thursday, 12 June 2014

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health has partnered with Coal Services Health and local mining companies to deliver a project called Partners in Mining. Based on the nationally disseminated Partners in Depression program, Partners in Mining is specifically designed to be relevant and appropriate for mine workers and their families, an industry that employs large numbers of men. 

    To coincide with Men’s Health Week, the project is moving into its next phase, with training commencing this week for selected Coal Services Health staff to deliver the program to several sites in the Hunter Valley. Providing information and support to the family members and friends of mine workers provides a real opportunity to improve the wellbeing and quality of life of mining families, with significant potential benefits for the workplace.

    While men and boys often lead happy and healthy lives, there is still evidence that more can be done to support their physical and mental health. On average one in eight men will experience depression in their adult lifetime. Treatment for depression is effective, however statistics indicate that only one third of people experiencing depression will seek help, and men are less likely to engage in help seeking when compared with women.

    From data collected by the ABS, one in six men (18%) with a 12 month mental disorder visited a general practitioner compared to almost one in three women (30%). For every man experiencing depression, there will often be a number of men and women from their family, friends and workplace who will be offering them support. 

    Partners in Mining is a six week group education and support program for local miners or family members who are supporting a person living with depression.

    Eligibility to attend the Partners in Mining program will be limited, however interested members of the general public can access the Partners in Depression groups. 

    For more information on Partners in Depression or to find a local group or facilitator in your area, go to www.partnersindepression.com.au.The project has been made possible with funding from Coal Services Health and Safety Trust, we thank them for their support.

  • Day One Opening of IASP Conference Tahiti

    Thursday, 12 June 2014

    Tahiti conference

    Jaelea Skehan, Director of the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, is currently in Tahiti for the 6th Asia Pacific Regional Conference for the International Association for Suicide Prevention. She has sent back this first brief report from the opening day.

    Every two years, those working in suicide prevention come together to learn about advances in research, clinical and community approaches to preventing suicide across the globe.  Every other year a regional congress is held in Europe and the Asia Pacific.

    This year, to the delight of many (including me) the Asia Pacific Congress was relocated from New Zealand to Tahiti. The 2014 conference will have a specific focus on French Polynesia which will be interesting for me.

    It is always important to recognise and understand the journey of all countries and cultures in relation to suicide. We are all at different points of understanding and mobilising health and community efforts.

    As a multicultural society, I have always found the reflections and understandings from other countries so important. We know that the risk of suicide and rates of suicide in people who have migrated to Australia generally tend to be similar to their country of origin for at least one to two generations – so understanding suicide as a global issue is important for all of us.

    But, listening to the views of others also comes with some challenges. Just in the first welcome session I heard words, phrases and concepts that we have worked hard to remove from our language in Australia. Perhaps it was the translation, but I suspect perhaps it has more to do with the religious and cultural taboos that still exist in many countries and the fact that media and community strategies in Australia are more advanced than perhaps any other part of the world.

    So with an open heart and an open mind I will listen to the views of other speakers at the conference (including many from Australia). I will also take the opportunity to talk to as many delegates as I can – perhaps in a nice pool-side spot. I will bring back what I hear and learn for my staff at the Hunter Institute of Mental Health and the organisations and communities we work with in Australia.

    For your information, Australia is well represented here at the Congress. Professor Jane Pirkis (General Secretary of IASP from Melbourne University) and Kairi Kolves (from AISRAP) were part of the conference organising committee. The Australians presenting at the conference include: Kairi Kolves, Jo Robinson, Adele Cox, Barry Taylor, Jane Pirkis, Katherine Mok and of course myself.

    I will be presenting two oral papers and one poster presentation:

    • When Conversations Matter, but the evidence is missing: developing community resources for suicide prevention (presented Wednesday afternoon Tahiti time)

    • Developing evidence-based information resources for people who have attempted suicide and their family and friends (presented Friday afternoon Tahiti time)

    • Implementing a national program to influence media reporting of suicide: The Australian Experience (poster presentation)

    Presentations I am delivering in Tahiti will be uploaded on the Hunter Institute slideshare account once completed. The poster presentation slides are already available.

    Au Revoir (yes I get to practice my French too).

    Jaelea

     

  • Positive focus for Living Well Forum

    Thursday, 5 June 2014

    Last night Newcastle Knights coach Wayne Bennett and 1233 ABC sports journalist Craig Hamilton talked openly about their lives and experiences at our community forum aimed at getting the people of the Hunter to think about what living well means. 

    Our Director, Jaelea Skehan says she was overwhelmed to see the city hall filled to capacity with over 800 people attending the event. 

    “Mental health and wellbeing is important to everyone. We were lucky to have two well respected men willing to talk about their experiences and put the spotlight on the importance of building resilience, staying connected to your community, and finding that important work/life balance.

    “The forum was relevant to individuals and families as well as workplaces and community groups, focusing on practical steps for enhancing wellbeing, preventing the onset of mental illness, and living beyond illness.”

    After experiencing his own mental health issues, 1233 ABC Broadcaster Craig Hamilton said that everyone needs to recognise the importance of looking after their mental health.

    “Anyone can improve their mental health as effectively as we can better our physical fitness. The key is making the conscious decision to do it. We can often put it off, or prioritise other things, but the time is now.

    “Prioritising your wellbeing and knowing your limits is important for everyone, not just those of us living with mental illness.”

    Newcastle Knights coach Wayne Bennett said it is important for people to build resilience so they can manage life situations when things get tough and reach out to others when they need support.

    “In spite of what life throws at us, there’s always the potential to overcome your fears and create a better life.

    “However, none of us are an island and we can’t do it by ourselves. You always need good support, people you can trust and people that share the same vision that you have for what you’re trying to achieve.”

    On Craig Hamilton’s personal journey, Mr Bennett said that whilst his story is relevant to everyone, he has a significant learning to share for males.

    “Craig has one key message in telling his story. It is for Australian men and it is important: Don’t let your pride or stubbornness prevent you reaching out for help when you need it.”

    The forum was covered in the news today by the Newcastle Herald click here

  • How often do we ask ourselves, am I living well?

    Thursday, 5 June 2014

    How often do we stop and put the spotlight on our own lives and ask the question, “Am I living well”? writes Hunter Institute Director Jaelea Skehan

    Last night I stood in front of 800 people gathered in our city hall to open a forum that was all about mental health, wellbeing and living well. It was an evening about building resilience, coping with adversity, and putting our own mental health and wellbeing front and centre.

    In reality, I was the warm-up act for two very well respected men – Craig Hamilton and Wayne Bennett. Two men who speak with such eloquence about life’s ups and downs and about what it means to stay balanced, connected and well.

    Perhaps the 800 people in the audience were only interested in the chance to hear from two great role models. But perhaps there was also something about the concept of wellbeing that also resonates with people who are often leading busy and increasingly disconnected lives.

    Being mentally healthy and living well is important to every single one of us. It’s about enjoying life and fulfilling your potential. It’s having the ability to cope with stresses and sadness, and it’s about being connected to friends, family, community and culture.

    Living a healthy life is also important to those recovering from mental illness. In this regard, Craig Hamilton is nothing but inspiring. It gives hope to those  currently struggling that life can and will be different in the future. 
    But it can be so easy for us to take our mental health for granted – something Craig reinforces when he talks about his experiences.

    I am the first one to admit that at times I need to be reminded to “practice what I preach”. Like many others, there are times when I take on too much at work and find getting that balance between giving to others and giving to myself elusive. My physical health gets de-prioritised and finding moments to relax and quiet the mind can be hard to come by. 

    In preparing for the event, my staff and I came up with 10 simple tips for living well that we wanted to share with others and serve as a reminder for all of us: 

    Tip 1: Get enough sleep and rest. Sleep affects our physical and mental health, but can be the first thing we trade in when we get busy or stressed.

    Tip 2: Take time out for things you enjoy. Balance in life is important, so taking time out for things you enjoy can make a difference to how you think and feel.

    Tip 3: Be active and eat well. Our physical and mental health is closely linked, so adding exercise and nutritious food every day can make us feel better.

    Tip 4: Nurture relationships and connect with others. Our connection to others is what builds us up and keeps us strong.

    Tip 5: Learn to manage stress. If you have trouble winding down or managing thoughts, you may find relaxation, yoga or writing your feelings down helpful.

    Tip 6: Get involved and join in. Being part of a group with common interests provides a sense of belonging so find out about sporting, music, volunteer or community groups locally.

    Tip 7: Build your confidence. Learning improves your mental fitness, and taking on a new challenge can build confidence and give you a sense of achievement.

    Tip 8: Be comfortable in your own skin. Everyone is unique and should be celebrated. Know who you are and what makes you happy. 

    Tip 9: Set realistic goals and deal with tasks one at a time. It is good to be specific when you set a goal to help keep you on track.

    Tip 10: Reach out for help when you need it. Everyone needs support from time to time. Talking to a family member, a friend, your doctor or one of the many services available can make all the difference.  

    Mental health and wellbeing is important to individuals, families, schools, workplaces and communities. There is a role for all of us to play. So, what will you do differently today?

    Jaelea Skehan is director of the Hunter Institute of Mental Health and a conjoint teaching fellow in the school of medicine and public health at University of Newcastle

     This piece was written for the Newcastle Herald and is available here

  • National media panel: Reducing mental illness stigma

    Tuesday, 3 June 2014

    Today, the Hunter Institute of Mental Health will host the Mindframe National Media Initiative (Mindframe) expert panel event on reducing stigma of mental illness via the media. The event is being held in Melbourne to coincide with Mindframe’s annual National Media Advisory Group meeting.

    Panel speakers will be made up of representatives from the Hunter Institute of Mental Health (Mindframe), SANE Australia, beyondblue, the National Mental Health Commission, Fairfax Media, and Australian Broadcasting Corporation - bios of guest speakers below. A Q&A session will follow panel discussions, facilitated by Hunter Institute Director, Jaelea Skehan.

    Guests will include advisory group members and invited delegates from Melbourne-based media and mental health organisations. The session provides an opportunity to discuss the roles of the media and mental health and suicide prevention sectors in de-stigmatising mental illness in the community.

    Guest speakers include:

    • Jaelea Skehan, Hunter Institute of Mental Health. For Jaelea's full biography visit: http://www.himh.org.au/home/about-us/our-staff/jaelea-skehan
    • Commissioner Jackie Crowe, National Mental Health Commission is a Carer Consultant and a carer member of the National Register of Mental Health Consumer and Carer Representatives. Jackie works with the Ballarat Health Services Area Mental Health Service.  She has worked in the area of mental health at a local, state, national and international level. She is a passionate campaigner for social justice, empowerment, mental wellbeing and improved services for those affected by mental health issues and their families.
    • Dr Brian Graetz, beyondblue is the General Manager of Research, Child and Youth at beyondblue. He oversees beyondblue’s research strategy including its current national and state-based grant funding rounds, youth-focused initiatives, and national mental health programs in education (primary, secondary and tertiary) and early childhood and care settings. Dr Graetz has a background in education and child psychology having completed a Masters of Psychology (Clinical) and PhD (Medicine). He has worked in the mental health sector for over 15 years in a range of roles including clinical practice, teaching, research, project management, and strategic planning and policy analysis.
    • Dr Paul Morgan, SANE Australia is Director of Communications and Online for mental health charity SANE Australia. An expert in promoting community understanding of mental health, he is passionate about the power of knowledge to change people’s lives when affected by mental health problems. Paul also helped establish the StigmaWatch program and the national SANE Helpline (1800 18 SANE), and regularly answers questions on mental health at the ninemsn health website.
    • Amy Bainbridge is the ABC’s Consumer Affairs Reporter (and Mindframe Media Advisory Group Member). Amy has been a journalist for more than a decade and has won multiple awards for television and radio reporting. She has reported from Indonesia and India, and spent two years working for the Chinese English broadcaster CCTV International in Beijing.
    • Rod Case, Bendigo Advertiser is the Editor for the Bendigo Advertiser (and Mindframe Media Advisory Group Member). He has held this position for the last three years. During this time, the newspaper has facilitated the creation of the Suicide Prevention Awareness Network Central Victoria group, which has organised a mental health awareness walk through Bendigo for the past three years. The Bendigo Advertiser won a Suicide Prevention Australia Life Award for this work in 2012.
  • Hunter Institute announces partnership with DiG festival

    Thursday, 29 May 2014

    DiG Festival

     

     

     

     

     

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health are excited to announce a new partnership with DiG Festival with the introduction of a new major health stream in this year’s conference to be held in Newcastle from
    16-17 October 2014.

    Over the past few years there has been great innovation in the mental health space including partnerships with social media providers such as Facebook, the emergence of e-mental health, web-based peer support, tools that allow us to track emotions on an international scale and Apps that support wellbeing of Indigenous Australians, young people and people with disabilities.

    The Hunter Institute will drive the integration of a mental health stream into the DiG Festival allowing business, education providers, technology providers together with young people, academics and experts from the field to network and share successes and idea’s for the future.

    To deliver this new addition to the festivals program, the Hunter Institute will partner with the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre to develop a dynamic and interactive mental health, technology and innovation stream.

    “Mental health organisations now work in partnership with or employ technology experts, communication professionals, designers and people with lived experience of mental health issues,’ said Jaelea Skehan, Director Hunter Institute of Mental Health.

    “We can only solve 21st century problems by having a 21st century approaches. This means we need to innovate to ensure we can reach more people in ways that are most meaningful to them.”

    As part of the DiG Festival, the Hunter Institute will partner with the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre to develop a dynamic and interactive mental health stream.

    This will include presentations, panel sessions, workshops and think-tanks that include presentations from media, educators, technology partners and many of the organisations at the forefront of innovation in mental health.

    Current DiG topics being finalised are “Keeping Young People Safe and Connected Online”, “How Technology is Revolutionising Engagement and Health Care” and “Arts, Health and Wellbeing”.

    DiG co-founder Craig Wilson was delighted about the growth of DiG into such a socially important sector, and welcomed the partnership of such a great organisation.

    “We welcome the Hunter Institute of Mental Health to DiG, and look forward to seeing the exciting discussions and presentations that this area will provide to our program,” said Wilson.

    “Innovation isn’t just about hard business, or gaming, it has a real effect on people’s lives, and the inclusion of a health stream into DiG will showcase the real life challenges, advancements and successes that collaboration and innovation can have for people and communities.”

    Confirmation of DiG health stream speakers and activities will be announced in the next two weeks, with a full program to be released in July.

    For more information on the DiG Festival, visit www.digfestival.com.au

    If you require further information regarding this event, contact Brooke Cross, Senior Communications Officer, Hunter Institute of Mental Health at brooke.cross@hnehealth.nsw.gov.au or call 02 49246 908.

  • A prevention approach to reducing onset of mental illness essential for those with chronic illness

    Friday, 23 May 2014

    Taking a prevention approach and supporting those we know who are at risk of developing mental illness, including those with chronic illness, is an important issue in Australia.

    Today the Hunter Institute of Mental Health were pleased to hear beyondblue announce a new Internet-based self-management system developed by researchers at Deakin University that will support the treatment of people with chronic arthritis and may be developed for other chronic, disabling conditions.

    Director of the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, Jaelea Skehan said it was important that as a nation we prioritise reducing mental illness.

    “We must have a vision for Australia that not only includes better treatment of mental illness but also includes reducing the onset of mental illness. This means addressing known risk factors and intervening early.

    “I welcome this new research which compliments work we are doing with children and young people who experience chronic illness.”

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health are looking at getting in early by supporting and working with children and their families affected by chronic illness with our Child Illness and Resilience Program (CHiRP). CHiRP is an evidence-based mental health promotion and illness prevention program for families and carers of children and young people living with a chronic illness in Australia.
     
    A review of relevant literature indicates that growing up with a chronic illness can have negative psychosocial influences on the child or young person that impact on resilience, mental health and wellbeing.

    “As a result, children and young people with a chronic illness are more likely to develop social, behavioural or mental health problems such as low self-esteem, poor social skills, challenging behaviour, drug or alcohol abuse, depression and anxiety,” Ms Skehan said.

    Dr Gavin Hazel, Program Manager responsible for the CHiRP initiative said that around 15% of Australian families care for a child or young person living with a chronic illness.

    “The experience of chronic illness in a child can also produce a range of challenges for the child’s family and loved ones in their supportive role.

    “The promotion of mental health for these families is an essential component of managing the child's chronic health condition.

    “Our CHIRP program aims to contribute to the work of clinicians, support systems, families, carers, and communities by enhancing family resilience,” he said. 

    The Hunter Institute developed the CHiRP program, and through funding from the Greater Charitable Foundation, are currently piloting the culturally sensitive Family Resilience and Wellbeing Resource and an Information and Support Group targeting parents or carers of children and young people living with a chronic illness. This program is being implemented in collaboration with Kaleidoscope: Hunter Children’s Health Network.

    For more information about CHiRP,click here.

    For a link to beyondblue’s announcement www.beyondblue.org.au/media/media-releases/media-releases/groundbreaking-beyondblue-funded-research-develops-new-program-to-help-people-with-chronic-disease-at-risk-of-depression

  • Mental health a high priority for the mining industry

    Tuesday, 20 May 2014

    NSW Mining shows its continued commitment to mental health and wellbeing with a stream on ‘being mentally healthy in the mining industry’ to occur today, as part of day two of the NSW Mining Health and Safety Conference being held in the Hunter Valley. 

    Earlier this year, NSW Mining released a Blueprint for Mental Health and Wellbeing, providing a high level guide to addressing the mental health and wellbeing of employees in the state’s mining sector. The Blueprint was produced by the University of Newcastle and the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, in conjunction with the Newcastle Institute for Energy and Resources (NIER).

    Alan Broadfoot, Director of NIER, said that partnerships between the Industry, researchers and mental health experts are vital to advancing our knowledge and approaches. 

    “Data suggests that even if the mining workforce experienced mental ill-health at the same rates as the population, that would still mean up to 10,000 employees in NSW in any one year may experience a mental illness such as anxiety, depression or substance use disorders.

    “We know mental health is an important issue for every Industry. However, for approaches to be relevant and successful, they need to be supported and driven by that Industry.”

    Jaelea Skehan, Director Hunter Institute of Mental Health said there is strong evidence to support the workplace as a setting for mental health interventions.

    “We know that workplaces are important partners in prevention. They offer a unique setting to promote mental health and wellbeing, prevent mental ill-health and to respond early and well to those experiencing mental illness.”

    Representatives from the University of Newcastle and the Hunter Institute of Mental Health will be presenting on two Industry funded programs at the Health and Safety Conference.

    Brian Kelly, Professor of Psychiatry and the Interim Chair of a new Centre for Resources Health and Safety at NIER, will be presenting on progress under an ACARP funded Working Well project to investigate the prevalence of mental health problems, and trial multi-faceted interventions to address mental ill-health across Coal Mines in New South Wales and Queensland.

    “An important component of Working Well is to ensure we listen to Industry about the types of interventions they believe will be effective and sustainable, while also applying sound science and program design,” said Professor Kelly.

    “Interventions will start rolling out in NSW this month, including supervisor and leader training led by the Hunter Institute of Mental Health as well and employee and peer-based training delivered by Mates in Construction.”

    Given this week is also National Families Week, the Hunter Institute of Mental Health will present on the role of families in supporting people living with a mental illness.

    This session coincides with the recent commencement of the Partners in Mining project funded by Coal Services Health and Safety Trust and being rolled out in the Hunter Valley by the Hunter Institute, in partnership with Coal Services Health.

    “For every worker in NSW who experiences a problem with their mental health, there is likely to be another worker who is providing care and support for a family member who is experiencing depression, anxiety or a substance use problem,” says Hunter Institute Director Jaelea Skehan.

    “We know from the National Evaluation of the Partners in Depression program, that people providing care and support for someone with depression are more likely to also experience problems with their own mental health and wellbeing.

    “We also know that with the provision of information, support and skills that people in caring roles can have that risk to their own wellbeing reduced.

    “We are excited to be working with mine sites, Coal Services Health and community stakeholders in the Hunter Valley to adapt the Partners in Depression program for mining families,” Ms Skehan said.

    For more information on Partners in Mining visit www.himh.org.au/partnersinmining

  • Supporting the mental health of LGBTI people is important

    Friday, 16 May 2014

    International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT) is this Saturday 17 May.

    Established 10 years ago to commemorate the World Health Organisation’s decision to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder, IDAHOT aims to draw attention to the ongoing violence and discrimination experienced by people who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender or Intersex (LGBTI)

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health recognises the impact of homophobia and transphobia on the mental health and wellbeing of LGBTI people and is committed to ensuring that the work we undertake is inclusive, safe and culturally appropriate for all communities.

    Director of the Hunter Institute Jaelea Skehan says that organisations need to work in partnership to support the mental health of the LGBTI community.

    “Homophobia and transphobia is unacceptable. Discrimination impacts on wellbeing and mental health and extends from individuals to communities.”

    “Organisations have a responsibility to ensure that their programs are inclusive and support the strength and resilience of people who identify as LGBTI.”

    Hunter Institute Program Manager for Child and Youth Dr Gavin Hazel believes that education is important for supporting the mental health of LGBTI people as it promotes awareness and understanding.

    “This day provides an opportunity for professionals working with children, young people and their families to reflect on how they can contribute through their work to reducing stigma and support wellbeing,” he said.

    Since August 2013, the Hunter Institute have been a part of the National LGBTI Champions pilot project and have recently had three abstracts accepted for the LGBTI Mental Health Courageous Voices conference occurring in Sydney 26-27 June. This conference is the first of its kind in Australia and will discuss mental health and wellbeing within the LGBTI community including individual and social determinants, as well as research occurring within this field.

    More information about the LGBTI Champions Project is available here.

    For more information about IDAHOT visit http://dayagainsthomophobia.org/

    Further information and registration for the LGBTI Mental Health 'Courageous Voices' conference is available at http://mindoutconference.net/  

  • Our CHiRP team encourage you to celebrate your family this week

    Thursday, 15 May 2014

    National Families Week is Australia’s annual celebration of families and this year, the 2014 theme is “Stronger Families, Stronger Communities”. This theme highlights the important and vital role that families play in society and that community wellbeing is enhanced by family wellbeing.

    Our Child Illness and Resilience (CHiRP) team understands how important the role of the family is when living with a child with a chronic illness. Families are the central building block of our communities, and community wellbeing is enhanced by family wellbeing.

    For children living with chronic illness, they often have to manage symptoms and ongoing treatments that affect their health and lifestyle. Families are also impacted with increased demands and challenges related to understanding, managing and coping with a diagnosed illness. These challenges can increase family members’ vulnerability to mental health problems.

    An initiative of the Hunter Institute of Mental Health and funded by the Greater Charitable Foundation, the CHiRP program promotes family resilience through the provision of a number of practical resources. Participating families are introduced to information and activities that help them learn coping strategies, ways to improve family functioning and identify sources of support.

    In partnership with Kaleidoscope at the John Hunter Children’s Hospital in Newcastle NSW, the Hunter Institute is currently in the pilot phase of the CHiRP program. The three year pilot commenced in 2012 and will be completed at the end of 2014. It is anticipated the program will be rolled out beyond the region following the success of the pilot.

    During Families Week, take the time to support the resilience and wellbeing of your family:

    • Look after yourself by doing things that you enjoy
    • Spend time with your family, perhaps you could go and do that thing you have always talked about
    • Participate in a group activity, check out what is going on in your local area during Families week by clicking here
    • If you need help, ask for it. There are always people to help, you just may have to take the first step and let them know how you feel and what you need.
    • If you have something worrying you, talk to your family about it, or check in with your children to make sure they are okay.
    • Be kind to one other, spend time together, talk about the good times and share memories.

    For family resilience resources to use with your family, click here 

    For more information about the CHiRP project, click here

  • A key milestone for the future of our children

    Friday, 9 May 2014

    Yesterday the 2000th Australian school signed up to adopt Kids Matter Primary, an innovative initiative that promotes mental health and wellbeing in primary school children.

    This important milestone means one in four Australian primary schools is putting in place evidence-based programs to help students develop skills to manage life challenges and to build resilience.

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health acknowledges the valuable contribution that KidsMatter is making to children and families, as well as building the capacity of schools and communities to support our children.

    The significant uptake of this resource for primary school students reflects the well-developed nature of the resources and shows the need in our community to have access to resources that support schools to contribute to healthy child development.

    Hunter Institute’s Manager of Child, Youth and Wellbeing Programs Dr Gavin Hazel, says that it is important to educate our teachers on how best to support children’s mental health and wellbeing.

    “Teachers represent a critical professional group who can through their work support the wellbeing, learning, and development of children.”

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health continues to support initiatives such as KidsMatter through its national programs that build the skills and capacities of teachers in their pre-service training.

    “Supporting the preparation and development of teachers throughout their career from their university training through to their work in schools is vital” said Dr Hazel.

    Dr Hazel explains that the Hunter Institute's Response Ability program is the forerunner of the school-based professional development programs, complementing and promoting peer initiatives.

    “Response Ability lays the ground work for the future use and understanding of in-service mental health resources in schools and child care centres such as KidsMatter and MindMatters.

    “As part of a continuum of educating the teachers and children’s services staff of tomorrow on how to best to manage their students’ mental health, Response Ability is the vital introduction,” Dr Hazel said.

    Response Ability is a government initiative implemented by the Hunter Institute in partnership with universities and children's services educators throughout Australia. This project aims to promote the social and emotional wellbeing, or mental health, of children and young people.

    Response Ability supports the pre-service preparation of teachers and early childhood educators, regarding mental health issues in children and young people, by providing resources for use in their professional training. The aim of the program is to better prepare these professionals for their roles in mental health promotion, the prevention of mental illness, and early intervention.

    For more information on Response Ability, click here 

  • High profile locals put the spotlight on living well

    Thursday, 8 May 2014


    Living Well event

    On Wednesday 4 June, Newcastle Knights coach Wayne Bennett and 1233 ABC sports journalist Craig Hamilton will be talking openly about their lives and experiences at a community event aimed at getting the people of the Hunter to think about what living well means. 

    The event Living Well: An evening about building resilience, enhancing wellbeing and overcoming adversity is being hosted by the Hunter Institute of Mental Health and our Director, Jaelea Skehan says she hopes to see the city hall filled for the evening. 

    “Mental health and wellbeing is important to everyone. We are lucky to have two well respected men willing to talk about their experiences and put the spotlight on the importance of building resilience, staying connected to your community, and finding that important work/life balance.

    “The forum will be relevant to individuals and families as well as workplaces and community groups, focusing on practical steps for enhancing wellbeing, preventing the onset of mental illness, and living beyond illness.”

    After experiencing his own mental health issues, 1233 ABC Broadcaster Craig Hamilton believes that everyone needs to recognise the importance of looking after their mental health.

    “Anyone can improve their mental health as effectively as we can better our physical fitness. The key is making the conscious decision to do it. We can often put it off, or prioritise other things, but the time is now.

    “Prioritising your wellbeing and knowing your limits is important for everyone, not just those of us living with mental illness.”

    Newcastle Knights coach Wayne Bennett said it is important for people to build resilience so they can manage life situations when things get tough and reach out to others when they need support.

    “In spite of what life throws at us, there’s always the potential to overcome your fears and create a better life.

    “However, none of us are an island and we can’t do it by ourselves. You always need good support, people you can trust and people that share the same vision that you have for what you’re trying to achieve.”

    On Craig Hamilton’s personal journey, Mr Bennett said that whilst his story is relevant to everyone, he has a significant learning to share for males.

    “Craig has one key message in telling his story. It is for Australian men and it is important: Don’t let your pride or stubbornness prevent you reaching out for help when you need it.”

    Registrations to attend the community forum are now open via our website www.himh.org.au/forum. Entry to the event is by gold coin donation. Doors will open at 6:15pm for a 6:45pm start on Wednesday 4 June at Newcastle City Hall.

    All community members are welcome to attend.

    The Living Well Community Forum is supported by 1233 ABC Newcastle, Newcastle City Council and Headjam.

  • Family and carers mental health get a national boost

    Wednesday, 7 May 2014

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health welcomes the appointment of Lucy Brogden to the National Mental Health Commission, announced yesterday.

    Ms Brogden has volunteered her personal experience, knowledge and passion to many mental health organisations in the past decade, including her role as the National Patron of the Hunter Institute’s Partners in Depression program.

    Last night Jaelea Skehan, Director of the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, congratulated Lucy Brogden on her appointment, stating that there was not a more significant time in the mental health sector to have someone with her background involved at the strategic level.

    “Ms Brogden brings a commitment and a passion for mental health as well as business and strategic thinking, which is important at this time.

    “I have seen first-hand the commitment Lucy Brogden has for shinning a light on the needs of families and carers and other important areas of mental health. She has used her own position as a public figure as well as her business knowledge to advance the national thinking in this area.”

    It is an important year for the National Mental Health Commission as it undertakes a wide-ranging national review of mental health to ensure programs and services are supporting individuals experiencing mental ill-health and their families, so that they can lead a contributing life.

    Ms Skehan adds: “We have made some progress nationally in recognising the important role that families and carers play, but too often they are just an afterthought for mental health programs.

    “We need to take a prevention approach when it comes to carers, ensuring access to interventions that enhance wellbeing and prevent the onset of mental ill-health in this important group of people.”

    Ms Skehan said that preventative programs are an essential component of a cost-effective approach to mental health.

    “We know from research that investing in the promotion of mental health and wellbeing and the prevention of mental ill-health leads not only to a more efficient use of mental health resources, it has a flow-on effect to a range of other health and community outcomes. 

    “It is always better to prevent onset of mental illness, rather than having to pay more in the future to treat it.”

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health also congratulates Professor Ian Hickie on his reappointment to the commission and the inclusion of The Hon Kay Patterson to the list of Commissioners. We wish them well in their appointment and look forward to working with them and the existing Commissioners as we enter a critical period for mental health reform in Australia.

     

    To watch a video of Lucy taking openly about living with and loving a person with depression and her role as National Patron of Partners in Depression, click here

    To read Lucy's opinion piece in the Newcastle Herald on ths importance of supporting carers, click here

     

    Partners in Depression is a group-based mental health promotion and prevention program for people who love, live with or care for a person experiencing depression. Our research shows that people who support others with depression have an increased risk themselves of developing mental health problems. The program is designed to address the whole of life implications of the illness and to build resilience in an ‘at risk’ population while providing much needed education and support. www.partnersindepression.com.au

  • Latest Mindframe Newsletter out now

    Thursday, 17 April 2014

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health manages the Mindframe National Media Initiative.

    Our latest Mindframe e-newsletter is now available to view here. 

    This e-newsletter includes the following team highlights:

    •  Launch of Mindframe resources
    •  Hon. Peter Dutton Minister for Health media release on Mindframe
    •  National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Communication Charter
    •  Mindframe Communication Managers’ Group advisory meeting
    •  Mindframe Journalism and Public Relations Educators’ advisory group meeting
    •  Simone Buchanan discusses the importance of accurately portraying characters with mental illness
    •  Mindframe participation in Australian Press Council roundtable
    •  Media alert: Mindframe advice for media when reporting suicide and mental illness
    •  Awards
    •  Upcoming Activities
    •  Events

    The aim of the e-newsletter is to keep stakeholders updated on the key activities that the team are currently working on, as well as any future work and events. 


    To subscribe to this e-newsletter, please email mindframe@hnehealth.nsw.gov.au with 'subscribe' in the subject line.

  • New report released highlighting need for ongoing partnership with Indigenous communities

    Tuesday, 15 April 2014

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health welcomes ‘The Elders Report into preventing Indigenous self-harm and youth suicide’ released today. This report includes Aboriginal Elders from across Northern and Central Australia speaking candidly about the tragic loss of life in their communities through suicide and self-harm.

    Hunter Institute Director Jaelea Skehan says that, “it is important that we hear from Elders on this issue. We all need to understand the cultural differences between non-Indigenous and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

    “The Hunter Institute has an ongoing commitment to partnering with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander services and communities to ensure their voices and knowledge inform our work.

    “There are many things we know about prevention of mental illness and suicide, but we also recognise and acknowledge that there is much we do not know.”

    The Elder’s Report contains interviews with 30 Elders documenting their solutions for preventing self-harm, suicide and mental illness among their young people. The Report also includes a foreword by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda and an introduction by Professor Pat Dudgeon.

    The document can be downloaded from www.bepartofthehealing.org

    Media are encouraged to report issues relating to suicide and self-harm in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities safely and responsibly. Further information is available here.

  • Acclaimed playwrights teach young drama students to engage through authentic portrayals of mental illness and wellbeing

    Monday, 14 April 2014

    Two of Australia’s leading scriptwriters recently visited Newcastle to provide Year 11 drama students of the Hunter and surrounding region with a rare chance to learn about character development and authentic portrayals relating to mental illness and wellbeing.

    Each year, acclaimed Australian playwrights Suzie Miller and Caleb Lewis facilitate a full-day workshop for schools registered in MindPlay – an annual schools drama competition presented by the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, headspace Maitland and headspace Newcastle. Students are required to research, write and perform a 15-minute drama piece on a mental health topic for a chance to win cash prizes for their school.2014 MP Scriptwriting Workshop

    Hunter Institute of Mental Health Director Jaelea Skehan said: “Suzie and Caleb provide young representatives from MindPlay-registered schools with a great opportunity to learn how topics relating to mental illness can be portrayed in a way that is authentic and engaging, and in a way that does not encourage stigma” she said.

    As an acclaimed multi-award winning playwright, Suzie is no stranger to the exploration of mental health issues, having contributed to the development of the
    Mindframe for stage and screen
     resource.

    Suzie said: “Having been involved in MindPlay for many years, I continue to be impressed and inspired by not only the Hunter Institute and their innovative commitment to combating mental health and the stigma attached, but also by the incredible students that travel to the workshops. The work that emerges from the scriptwriting workshops is of the highest level, is both dynamic and thoughtful and allows these young people to lead the way for future generations around mental health awareness.”

    Also a multi-award winning playwright once mentored by the late Nick Enright (The Boy from Oz), Caleb has produced several works for which he has received national recognition.

    Caleb said: “The Hunter Institute’s MindPlay is a fantastic initiative that gets students talking by putting a spotlight on mental health and encourages students to explore these stories on stage. This has been my fourth year with the project and I am thrilled to be back in Newcastle to take students through the basics of storytelling and encouraging discussion about how we talk about mental health is the schoolyard, on the stage and on the screen” he said.

    The workshop was attended by teachers and students from Toronto High, Newcastle High, Kotara High, Warner’s Bay High, Maitland Grossmann High, Hunter School of Performing Arts, Whitebridge High and Merewether High school. Participants said: “the workshop was very good for developing characters and understanding how to accurately portray people living with mental health problems as well as providing directions to resources that can help”.

    For updates on the MindPlay Year 11 drama competition visit www.himh.org.au/mindplay or ‘like’ the Facebook page www.facebook.com/mindplay.

    Young people can find out more about mental health issues by visiting www.headspace.org.au, or www.blackdoginstitute.org.au, or www.reachout.com.

    Sponsorship for MindPlay 2014 is provided by Tantrum Youth Arts, Headjam and the Rotary Club of Newcastle Enterprise.

    - ENDS –

    For media enquiries, call (02) 4924 6933 or email Kim.McNaughton@hnehealth.nsw.gov.au.

    Image: Registered schools participate in the MindPlay Scriptwriting Workshop with Suzie Miller and Caleb Lewis; Photographer credit: Georgia Davies.

  • Hunter Institute presents an evening on the stage with Suzie Miller and Caleb Lewis

    Tuesday, 1 April 2014

    As part of Mindframe for stage and screen, the Hunter Institute of Mental Health will be presenting an evening on the stage with award-winning playwright's Suzie Miller and Caleb Lewis in Newcastle this Thursday 3 April. The evening will be hosted by the Hunter Institute of Mental Health as part of its commitment to the arts locally and nationally.

    MindPlay LogoThe event will include a brief presentation and anecdotes from Suzie and Caleb on writing for the stage, exploring ways to craft authentic characters and engaging scripts that explore mental health and other related issues. Audience members will have an opportunity to ask questions in a relaxed bar atmosphere.

    Finger food will be provided and guests can purchase drinks from the bar. The event is FREE but attendance must be registered prior, as numbers are limited. 

    Thursday 3 April, 6.45pm
    Bar Petite, 5/5 King St Newcastle

    To reserve a place, please contact Kim McNaughton via email at Kim.McNaughton@hnehealth.nsw.gov.au or on 02 4924 6933. To download a PDF copy of the event flyer, click here


    A brief about Suzie Miller and Caleb Lewis

    Suzie MillerSuzie Miller is a multi-award winning Australian playwright forging both a national and international career working with companies such as the National Theatre of Scotland, Sydney’s Griffin Theatre, Black Swan State Theatre Company, ATYP, Legs on the Wall, LIVE theatre in Newcastle UK, National Theatre of Scotland and is the playwright for: The Sacrifice Zone, Driving Into Walls,onefivezeroseven, DUST, and Overexposed. Amongst other awards and nominations Suzie has won the 2008 National Kit Denton Fellowship for writing with courage shortlisted for the 2010 and 2008 Australian Writers Guild Award for drama, and nominated for two AWGIEs for 2013; shortlisted for the Griffin Award 2009, Winner of Inscription 2009; and 2006 mentored by Edward Albee 2009; Winner 2008 New York Fringe Festival ‘Overall Excellence Award for Outstanding Playwriting’ and in 2005 winner of the Theatrelab award. Her plays have won 9 equity awards, and Helpman awards. Suzie also sits on various boards including the Australian Writers’ Guild, the new Eternity Theatre and State of Play.

    Caleb LewisCaleb Lewis is a multi-award winning playwright.  He studied at Flinders University and was later mentored by Nick Enright and has worked with companies such as Sydney's Griffin Theatre, Space Theatre, State Theatre Company of South Australia.  Since 2004 Lewis has produced numerous works such as, Songs for the Deaf, Nailed, The Sea Bride, Dogfall, Otzi, Men, Love and the Monkeyboy, Death in Bowengabbie, Clinchfield, Aleksander & The Robot Maid and Rust and Bone. Lewis has won the 2006 Inscription Emerging Playwright Award, an AWGIE for Otzi, was shortlisted for the Griffin Award, winner of the 2008 Mitch Matthews award and Death in Bowengabbie was nominated best production at the Adelaide Fringe and won the judge’s commendation for best new writing, 2009. Caleb is the inaugural winner of the Richard Burton Award for his play, Clinchfield. Current projects include Atomograd; Hyboria and Half an Hour Visit and commissions for Bell Shakespeare, Black Swan and State Theatre Company of South Australia.

    For more information about Suzie Miller and Caleb Lewis, download the invitation, click here.

  • Latest media resources for reporting suicide & mental illness

    Monday, 31 March 2014

    Mindframe resource

    The Mindframe National Media Initiative is launching its latest resources for Australian media professionals',  providing easy and practical ways to report suicide and mental illness.

    The resources have been developed by the Hunter Institute of Mental Health following a two-year engagement exercise with media and those who work with the media from the mental health and suicide prevention sectors.

    The updated and compact media book, which is also available online from today, is now half the size of the original resource first developed 12 years ago. It also comes with handy quick references cards, supporting journalists on tight deadlines in today’s converged online media climate.

    Media can download the new resources via www.mindframe-media.info and register to receive the new printed booklets on the website.

    Director of the Hunter Institute of Mental Health Jaelea Skehan said: “Media are key partners in preventing mental illness and suicide in Australia and for ensuring that individuals, families and communities are informed about the issues more broadly.

    “While the Mindframe resources have been updated yearly since their original release in 2002, this is the first time we have done a complete overhaul of what is included in the printed booklets.

    “We listened to what the media wanted and have provided a much briefer resource booklet to ensure journalists get access to what they need, in the format they want it in. The updated resources include recommendations for reporting in the online environment and now also have a focus on the impact that reporting can have on journalists themselves, not just the community at large,” said Ms Skehan.  

    The redevelopment of the resources and other strategies under the national initiative have been guided by an advisory group of media professionals, including ABC Four Corners presenter Quentin McDermott.

    “Journalists play a key role in highlighting the prevalence of mental illness and suicide, and the need to get to grips with it. But they walk a tightrope between the desire to shine a light on mental illness – and the danger of starting a conversation which, in individual cases, may bring more harm than good,” he said.

    Mindframe’s efforts to engage with journalists are to be applauded. The resource which has emerged from this engagement is just that – a helpful resource to be used by journalists, editors and editorial policy-makers. It is not a Bible, or a set of rules. The dialogue will continue, and in future years the resource will change and develop,” he added.

    In addition to the updated print resources, enhancements have also been made to the online resources, which now include a section on journalist self-care developed in partnership with the DART Centre for Journalism and Trauma.  The resources will soon include tips for reporting on those bereaved by suicide and updated recommendations for reporting on issues affecting Indigenous Australians and Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) communities. A new App will be released by June 2014.

    Resource Launch events:
    To mark the release of the new resources, Mindframe is visiting Sydney-based media organisations tomorrow 1st April, to share a coffee and get feedback from journalists. All media professionals have been invited to engage with the new resources via a social media campaign using the hashtag #MindframeMedia, with comments and images appearing on the Mindframe website over the week.

    A dinner event, being held tomorrow night in Sydney, is also being hosted by the Hunter Institute of Mental Health and the Mindframe National Media Initiative to mark the official launch of the new resources for media professionals. This event coincides with the Mindframe Communication Managers’ annual meeting being held on Wednesday 2nd April. There will be a media panel including:

    • Sean Parnell (Health Editor, The Australian)
    • Di Thomas (Editor, The Bordermail)
    • Natalie Ahmat (News Presenter, NITV/SBS))

  • LGBTI month wraps up at the Hunter Institute

    Monday, 31 March 2014

    To mark the end of LGBTI month here at the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, we welcomed educators and special guests from across Australia to the Mindframe Journalism and Public Relations Educators’ advisory group dinner event late last week.

    The theme of the dinner was ‘The mental health of LGBTI people and the role of media and communications’ with guest speakers MindOUT! Manager Barry Taylor, JOY 94.9 General Manager Conrad Browne and ReachOut.com By Inspire Foundation Communications Officer Doug Millen.

    Director of the Hunter Institute Jaelea Skehan, also presented on the night and said, “This event was an opportunity for the Institute to demonstrate our ongoing commitment to working with individuals and communities to ensure our practice is inclusive and safe for people who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender or Intersex.

    “The media, and those who train communicators of the future, are key partners in prevention of mental illness and suicide nationally.  It made sense to engage them in the discussion about the mental health and wellbeing of LGBTI people and communities.”

     Mindframe dinner

    One of our LGBTI Champions at the Hunter Institute Alexandra Culloden said, “Each of the speakers highlighted the important role we can all play in not only working towards improved mental wellbeing of people who identify as LGBTI but also in promoting the strength and resilience within this community.”

    This topic was continued the following day for the advisory group meeting which also provided an opportunity to discuss Mindframe priorities and opportunities for university education, including new case studies, research and professional development.

    Check out our Facebook page for more images of the night here

  • CHiRP supports families living with arthritis

    Tuesday, 25 March 2014

    For any family, hearing that your child has an illness can be a shock. Particularly arthritis, as it commonly thought of as an illness that only affects older people. For many parents and carers, this can be overwhelming which is normal to feel. Living with a child with an illness such as arthritis may be a challenge for your child and the rest of your family, there will be many ups and downs. The CHiRP team have developed a resource to help support you and your family, offering strategies to help your whole family live a full and active life.

    An initiative of the Hunter Institute of Mental Health and funded by the Greater Charitable Foundation, the CHiRP project promotes family resilience through the provision of a number of resources. Participating families are introduced to information and activities that help them learn coping strategies, ways to improve family functioning and identify sources of support.

    CHiRP is an exciting initiative that supports the wellbeing of families living with childhood chronic illness. By focusing on resilience, families can call upon the strengths, skills and resources that have helped them through tough times before, and build on these to help them cope now and into the future.

    Currently CHiRP is provided to families when they have contact with the hospital. In the future, it is hoped the CHiRP resources can be available in hospitals nation-wide or distributed through other avenues such as schools and other community service providers.

    To find out more about our CHiRP project, please click here

    To access some of our CHiRP family resilience factsheets click here

    For more information on arthritis, visit www.arthritisaustralia.com.au

     

  • Framework for Mental Health in Multicultural Australia released today

    Thursday, 20 March 2014

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health are proud to support our key partners Mental Health in Multicultural Australia (MHiMA) in the launch of the national Framework for Mental Health in Multicultural Australia today.

    As key partners of MHiMA, staff from the Hunter Institute of Mental Health attended a workshop planning day last year to discuss the framework and key issues regarding mental health in multicultural Australia.

    The new framework operates online, resulting in easier access to up-to-date national standards and guidelines. It introduces an important new rating scale that enables new and existing services to measure cultural responsiveness and better meet the needs of culturally diverse communities.

    This framework was launched today as part of celebrations ahead of Harmony Day tomorrow and also included the launch of ‘Finding Our Way’, a joint digital storytelling project between MHiMA and the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI). The launch included the screening of ten short films in which ten Australians with culturally diverse backgrounds courageously shared their extraordinarily moving stories of recovery from emotional or mental health problems.

    “As far as we know, nothing like this has been undertaken before in Australia”, explained MHiMA project coordinators Dr. Erminia Colucci, Research Fellow at the University of Melbourne’s Centre for International Mental Health and Ms. Sue McDonough, Senior Clinician at Victorian Transcultural Mental Health (VTMH).

    The Hunter Institute welcomes the new Framework for Mental Health in Multicultural Australia and the ‘Finding Our Way’ project, and are proud to stand as partners of MHiMA and in support of Harmony Day and a greater national focus on mental health and suicide prevention for people from immigrant and refugee backgrounds, their families and communities.

    Harmony Day is also an opportunity to reflect on the need to ensure cultural respect for everyone who calls Australia home – from the traditional owners of this land to those who have come from many countries around the world.

    The message of Harmony Day is Everyone Belongs. For information on diversity and inclusive practice, read the factsheet developed by our Response Ability team here

  • Time to Close the Gap

    Thursday, 20 March 2014

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health today released three consultation reports detailing the needs and views of Aboriginal people when discussing suicide.

    Produced by the Hunter Institute's Conversations Matter project, the reports will now be used to develop resources for Aboriginal communities to support suicide prevention activities across Australia.

    Conversations Matter already has general online resources developed to support community discussion about suicide. They provide practical information for communities and professionals to guide conversations about suicide.

    Hunter Institute Director Jaelea Skehan today welcomed the reports as part of Close the Gap Day and and acknowledged the NSW Aboriginal communities that took part in their consultation.

    “The reports detail the consultation process across three Aboriginal communities in New South Wales. The reports will help to develop appropriate and culturally safe resources for Aboriginal communities when discussing suicide, due to be released later this year,” she said.

    “We would like to acknowledge and thank the stakeholders and community members who contributed to this process. This includes the Awabakal, Biripi and Gomeroi communities who provided the insight and information provided in these reports.

    The reports are available for download here.

    Today is also Close the Gap Day, a time in which we stop to reflect on and renew conversations regarding the inequality of health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people within Australia.

    “As part of Close the Gap Day we acknowledge the need for ongoing partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and organisations working in this area to ensure greater social and emotional wellbeing through all stages of life,” added Ms Skehan.

    Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can expect to live 10-17 years less than non-Indigenous Australians and it is vital to recognise the impact of poor mental health and wellbeing on not only the length of people’s lives but their quality of life.

    “The Hunter Institute is committed to an ongoing partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, communities and organisations to ensure greater social and emotional wellbeing for all,” added Jaelea. 

    For more information about the Conversations Matter resources, please click here.

  • Blueprint for mental health in the mining industry released

    Monday, 17 March 2014

    Mining truck


    On the weekend, the NSW Minerals Council released a Blueprint for Mental Health and Wellbeing, providing a high level guide to addressing the mental health and wellbeing of employees in the state’s mining sector. The Blueprint was produced by a team of experts at the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, in conjunction with the University of Newcastle and supported by leading resources research institute NIER (Newcastle Institute for Energy and Resources).

    This important document prescribes actions which the industry, mines and our health partners can take to improve the mental health and wellbeing of their employees.

    The Hunter Institute is dedicated to supporting mental health in the mining industry and welcomed the opportunity to provide expertise in the development of Blueprint. 

    Director of the Hunter Institute Jaelea Skehan says this document will provide mining companies with guidance on how to promote mental health and wellbeing and respond early and effectively to reduce the impact of mental ill-health.

    “People are the most important resource that any workplace has and so investing in their health, mental health and wellbeing makes sense.

    “We know that workplaces have an important role to play in prevention and implementing pro-active measures at industry level can make a real impact,” she said. 

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health is working in collaboration with NIER, Newcastle University, Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health and other industry partners to progress work in the mining and mental health space more broadly. 

    “Many in the mental health sector have been talking about the importance of workplaces to be involved in mental health – but interventions are much more likely to be effective and sustained where the Industry itself is leading the work. 

    “The NSW Minerals Council has shown leadership by developing the Blueprint and they are already working with us on a number of specific research and pilot programs to move the agenda forward,” she stated.

    NSW Minerals Council CEO Stephen Galilee says they are focused on being proactive in addressing the challenges of mental health in the mining sector and are committed to enlisting expertise in the mental health space to assist them in achieving their goal.

    “We are serious about tackling mental health in our industry and we’ve already taken steps such as ACARP generously providing $350,000 of research funding to the Hunter Institute of Mental Health and University of Newcastle,” Mr Galilee said.

    Professor Brian Kelly from Newcastle University says the Blueprint is a significant document for leading future work and research in the mining sector.

    “This work forms an important foundation to guide future health programs within the minerals industry, and in a unique partnership between this industry and the University, forms a platform to guide the future work of the University's Mental Health and Mining Program, as a component of its newly announced Centre for Resources Health and Safety at NIER,” Professor Kelly said.

    This Blueprint comes off the back of the 2012 Mental Health and the NSW Minerals Industry Report and a workshop for senior mine safety representatives, health professionals and researchers hosted by the NSW Minerals Council, the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, NIER and the University of Newcastle to develop a mental health strategic action plan for the mining sector.

    Both documents are available for download:

    Workshop report

    Blueprint for Mental Health and Wellbeing

     

  • Research partnership offers opportunities for mental health

    Thursday, 13 March 2014

    Yesterday, the Newcastle Institute for Energy and Resources (NIER) at the University of Newcastle launched a new Centre for Resources Health and Safety. The research centre is aimed at saving lives in the high-risk resources sector, and has been established through a new partnership between NIER and Aspen Medical.

    NIER Director, Alan Broadfoot made comment on the uniqueness of the new research centre: “It extends the traditional concept of resources health and safety from delivering benefit to people working in the industry, to the communities and economies that rely on mining and resources”

    Areas of research will include occupational health and safety, respiratory studies, psychology, psychiatry, environmental and social impacts and mental health. NIER is already speer-heading a mining an mental health program, which is a partnerships between the University of Newcastle, the Hunter Institute of Mental Health and the Industry.

    Director of the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, Jaelea Skehan, said "I welcome this new Centre and the opportunities it can provide in leveraging further partnerships between researchers, mental health organisations and the industry." 

    "We know from our work with the mining sector to date that mental health is one of their current priorities and it is important to see it included within this new Centre".

    For more information on Mining and Mental Health programs that the Hunter Institute of Mental Health is involved with, please visit: http://www.himh.org.au/home/our-programs/current-programs/mining-and-mental-health

  • This week is Brain Awareness Week

    Monday, 10 March 2014

    This week is Brain Awareness Week, a global campaign to increase public awareness of the progress and benefits of brain research.

    The Child and Youth Team at the Hunter Institute of Mental Health interviewed Dr Mary Helen Immordino-Yang about her insights into the world of neurobiology, neuroscience and brain development and the implications of these for early childhood care and education.

    Mary Helen is an internationally recognised cognitive neuroscientist and educational psychologist who studies the brain bases of emotion, social interaction and culture and their implications for development and education. 
    Read her interview here:
    http://www.himh.org.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0003/5835/05-Mary-Helen-Immordino-Yang-Interveiw.pdf

    Please visit Foundations where you can read or download this article and others on related topics – all written specifically for early childhood education and care educators.

    Brain 

  • March is LGBTI Month at the Institute!

    Thursday, 6 March 2014

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health is shining the spotlight on supporting  Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) communities during March.

    The month of LGBTI events kicked off when Institute staff joined the ReachOUT! By Inspire float at the Sydney Mardi Gras parade on March 1st (pictured below).

    LGBTI Jaelea and Chris   LGBTI Alex and Magda

                       
    Image 1: HIMH Director Jaelea Skehan with ReachOut! ambassador Chris Pycroft
    Image 2: HIMH LGBTI Champion Alexandra Culloden with Twenty10 ambassador Magda Szubanski


             LGBTI Marc and Jason     LGBTI Tegan and Alex


    Image 3: beyondblue ambassador Jason Ball with HIMH program manager Marc Bryant
    Image 4: HIMH staff Tegan Cotterill and Alexandra Culloden ready to march

    March also builds on the work of the Institute in supporting inclusive practice in mental health and suicide prevention organisations.

    Hunter Institute Director Jaelea Skehan said:

    “With significant disparities between mental health and wellbeing in LGBTI communities compared to the general Australian population, the Institute is committed to ensuring that our work with individuals and communities is inclusive of people who identify as LGBTI.

    “This has included the participation in the LGBTI Health Alliance’s Champions pilot project, which has been developed to support organisations to ensure practices are responsive, inclusive and safe,” added Jaelea.

    The Institute’s two LGTBI champions, Tania Ewin and Alexandra Culloden, will attend a MindOUT! training day in Brisbane on March 7, identifying how the organisation can build upon the work of the past 12 months. The Institute has also been selected to feature as a case study for the project.

    Meanwhile, there will be a training and workshop on LGBTI issues at the Institute's quarterly meeting for all staff and management on March 13.

    Finally, the Institute’s Mindframe for universities dinner event on March 26 this year will centre on the mental health of LGBTI people and the role of media and communications. Confirmed guest speakers include MindOUT!’s Barry Taylor and General Manager of Australia’s first and only gay and lesbian community radio station, JOY 94.9,Conrad Browne.

  • A timely reminder about language

    Thursday, 6 March 2014

    The old saying goes that "sticks and stones can break my bones, but names will never harm me". While that is a nice sentiment, and usually taught to children as a way of "shaking off" or moving past names they were being called, it probably doesn't reflect the harm that can be done by words.

    Certain language can stigmatise people living with a mental illness as well as present inaccuracies about mental illness or mental health care. 

    It is not always as easy as "shaking off" the effects that certain words or labels can have - especially when these words reinforce myths, misconceptions and fears that people may have about mental illness more broadly or people living with a mental illness.

    Below are some suggestions about preferred language for media stories from the Mindframe National Media Initiative. It is a timely reminder for all of us to think about the words we use in our verbal and written communication.

    How often have you used one of these words without thinking about the impact it may have? How often have you used one of these words because you know what impact it will have?

    Today is the day to make a commitment to do things differently.


     

    MI language

    Click on the image to enlarge


    For more information about stigma and the effects of stigma, visit www.sane.org
    For more information about media reporting and portrayals of mental illness, visit www.mindframe-media.info

  • Summary Report for the Mining and Mental Health Research Forum released today

    Monday, 24 February 2014

    A summary report from the Mining and Mental Health Research Forum, written by the Hunter Institute of Mental Health and the University of Newcastle, was released today, 24 February 2014.

    The Research Forum, hosted by the Hunter Institute of Mental Health (HIMH), the Newcastle Institute for Energy and Resources (NIER) and the University of Newcastle with support from beyondblue and NSW Mining, was held in Newcastle on 27 November 2013.

    The authors of the report would like to acknowledge the presenters and attendees for contributing their expertise and knowledge to the forum and discussions.

    Some of the key conclusions and recommendations from the day, outlined in the report, are below. 

    • Researchers need to build and maintain strong collaborative relationships with industry partners and sector advocates.
    • Researchers need to embrace the principles of effective research dissemination to assist industry partners to integrate evidence-based knowledge into their routine operations.
    • It is vital to align research objectives with current business imperatives to effectively engage with the mining industry.
    • Researchers need to be flexible and open to negotiation and discussion with industry partners about research design.
    • Further investigation is needed to confirm the validity of common measures and predictors of mental health and mental ill-health in the mining workforce.
    • While there are unique characteristics of the mining industry that must influence methodological and intervention design, researchers should also be able to use research from other settings to inform research design.
    • For research to be useful to the wider mining community there is a need for good quality, representative prevalence data combined with information gathered by qualitative methods to yield a rich and full understanding about the mental health and wellbeing of the mining workforce and the implications for industry.

    The Summary Report from the Mining and Mental Health Research Forum can be downloaded here.
    To find out more about our work in mining and mental health click here.

  • Today is World Social Justice Day

    Thursday, 20 February 2014

    In the next decade, conservative projections predict that three million children will be born. We need to understand how to best strengthen families and children so they possess the necessary skills to achieve self-sufficient, healthy and secure lives. We must also transform the ways in which we think about supporting vulnerable children and young people.

    The old models of collaboration and intervention are not working well enough to meet our current needs. Already too many children are falling through the gaps in the system. If we want to achieve better outcomes for children we must continue to aim high.

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health’s Child and Youth program identifies professions, organisations, communities and sectors that can made a difference in children’s wellbeing and we help them do this better. Drawing on the best in practice, science and policy we enable people, communities, organisations and government to enact sustainable and meaningful change. We believe in developing new ideas that address the factors contribution to the prevention of mental ill-health and promotion of mentally health outcomes.

    Child and Youth – the time to make a difference is now

     

  • Today marks International Asperger's Day

    Tuesday, 18 February 2014

    Today is International Asperger’s Day, an important day to celebrate the achievements of those with Asperger’s Syndrome.

    This event, which aims to highlight the significance of Asperger’s Syndrome for both society and individuals, also illustrates one of the many challenges to the newcomer trying to understand the autism spectrum. One of the key characteristics of children with Asperger’s Disorder is that they face challenges in social interactions. 

    The Foundations program, managed by the Child and Youth team at the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, aims to increase the capacity of the early childhood education and care workforce, families and communities to promote the social and emotional wellbeing of children.

    Caregivers can assist children by recognising this social confusion and providing guidance in acquiring abilities that will help with socialising and ultimately contribute to the child’s social and emotional wellbeing. The following article published in Foundations Issue 3, looks at the importance of social skills in children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. To view the article, click here.

    For more information about the Foundations program, or to read and download articles on other related topics written for early childhood education and care educators, please visit: www.himh.org.au/foundations

    For further information and resources about Autism Spectrum Disorder please visit Autism Spectrum Australia

  • National meeting to progress best practice social media guidelines

    Tuesday, 18 February 2014

    Individuals from key mental health and suicide prevention organisations will take part in a half-day social media event on Wednesday 19 February, ahead of the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre's (CRC) Connect 2014 Conference in Melbourne.

    The event is being hosted by the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, Young and Well CRC and Suicide Prevention Australia.
     
    The aim is to progress actions from last year’s Young People, Social Media and Suicide Prevention Roundtable and develop strategic steps to create national guidelines for safe and effective online engagement. 

    Hunter Institute Director Jaelea Skehan said: “Last year we brought together mental health and suicide prevention organisations, industry and young people".

    “This was to discuss how we would work together to address both the risks and opportunities that social media provides in suicide prevention, and set some national priorities for this collaborative work.”

    While progress has been made in the past 12 months, there is much work still to be done, said Jaelea.

    "The Young and Well CRC’s Connect 2014 Conference provided an opportunity to get some of those organisations together again to progress guidelines for safe and effective engagement online,” added Jaelea.

    There will be a brief report post the event, outlining the project coordination and mapping progress, identifying lead agencies and resources, timeframes, and sector and public communication.

     

    YAW SM Roundtable

     Young and Well CRC CEO Associate Professor Jane Burns, Mental Health Commissioner Sam Mostyn, and Hunter Institute of Mental Health Director Jaelea Skehan, with youth speakers at last year's social media roundtable.

     

  • The Hunter Institute asks, are you CHD aware?

    Friday, 14 February 2014

     

    CHD AwarenessToday our CHiRP team and Hunter Institute staff are supporting Congenital Heart Disease awareness by wearing red.

    February is Congenital Heart Disease (CHD) Awareness Month and while most people will recognise today’s date as St Valentine’s Day – it is also International Congenital Heart Disease (CHD) Day.

    It is estimated that approximately 32,000 Australians are currently living with a congenital heart defect, with over 2,000 Australian babies being born with heart defects each year.

    Challenges associated with chronic health conditions like CHD can impact the mental wellbeing of not only children, but the entire family.

    Few people are aware of the impact that living with CHD has on families. We know that families living with chronic health conditions can experience higher levels of stress due to increased demands and changes to family and social life. The challenges related to coping with and managing an illness can affect a family’s healthy functioning and sense of wellbeing.

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health’s Child Illness Resilience Program (CHiRP) is working towards building the resilience and wellbeing of children and families living with a diagnosed illness such as CHD. CHiRP has developed a number of resources for families aimed at improving coping strategies, family functioning and
    help-seeking behaviour.

    This project is funded by the Greater Charitable Foundation and being undertaken in partnership with the Kaleidoscope Children’s Health Network. 

    Through the provision of a number of resources, families are introduced to strategies that help them learn to cope during difficult times and identify sources of available support.

    For more information about our CHiRP program, or for factsheets on how to build family resilience, click here 

    To learn more about CHD, visit: www.heartkids.org.au/our-work/awareness

     

    CHDCHD image


  • An important day to remember

    Thursday, 13 February 2014

    Apology 

    Written by Hunter Institute Director, Jaelea Skehan.

    Today marks the sixth anniversary of the National Apology, read by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians for the stolen generations. This speech was given not only on behalf of the Australian Government, but also on behalf of the nation.

    The apology, for the policies of successive parliaments and governments, was a significant step in Australia's history. I still remember being huddled over the radio with my colleagues at the Hunter Institute listening in, as Kevin Rudd finally said sorry to the stolen generations. The apology acknowledged the profound wrong done to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, families and communities by removing children solely on the basis of race.

    Today you may want to take some time to reflect on how generations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have been affected, and will continue to be affected, by the past policies of the Australian Government and what impact that has had and still has on the mental health and wellbeing of Indigenous Australians. 

    If you haven’t read the speech, I encourage you to do so as it marks an important first step in what will be a long journey towards healing for Aboriginal people.

    Transcript of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s speech:

    “I move:

    That today we honour the Indigenous peoples of this land, the oldest continuing cultures in human history.

    We reflect on their past mistreatment.

    We reflect in particular on the mistreatment of those who were Stolen Generations - this blemished chapter in our nation's history.

    The time has now come for the nation to turn a new page in Australia's history by righting the wrongs of the past and so moving forward with confidence to the future.

    We apologise for the laws and policies of successive Parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians.

    We apologise especially for the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, their communities and their country.

    For the pain, suffering and hurt of these Stolen Generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry.

    To the mothers and the fathers, the brothers and the sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry.

    And for the indignity and degradation thus inflicted on a proud people and a proud culture, we say sorry.

    We the Parliament of Australia respectfully request that this apology be received in the spirit in which it is offered as part of the healing of the nation.
    For the future we take heart; resolving that this new page in the history of our great continent can now be written.

    We today take this first step by acknowledging the past and laying claim to a future that embraces all Australians.

    A future where this Parliament resolves that the injustices of the past must never, never happen again.

    A future where we harness the determination of all Australians, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, to close the gap that lies between us in life expectancy, educational achievement and economic opportunity.

    A future where we embrace the possibility of new solutions to enduring problems where old approaches have failed.

    A future based on mutual respect, mutual resolve and mutual responsibility.

    A future where all Australians, whatever their origins, are truly equal partners, with equal opportunities and with an equal stake in shaping the next chapter in the history of this great country, Australia.”

     

  • Mindframe lnitiative launches monthly e-newsletter

    Tuesday, 11 February 2014

    The Mindframe National Media Initiative, managed by the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, has launched its first monthly e-newsletter.

    The aim of the communique is to keep stakeholders updated on the key activities that the team are currently working on, as well as any future work and events.

    For the first issue, we have highlighted the following work:

    • Mindframe's final report investigating communication by the media and other sectors around mental illness and suicide via social media
    • Mindframe's Executive Summary for July to November 2013
    • The journal article ‘Suicide bereavement and the media: A qualitative study’ written by Hunter Institute staff and published in the Advances in Mental Health journal (V11, issue 3)
    • Mindframe's panel event at the JEAA Conference in December 2013
    • The Mindframe for Journalism Education Ossie award winner
    • An interview with Shine screenwriter Jan Sardi
    • Mindframe's sponsorship and workshop session at the national Community Broadcasters Association Australia Conference
    • Mindframe's co-sponsorship at last year’s ‘Reporting on the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse’ media forum with the Dart Centre and the media resource that followed
    • Upcoming activities and events.

    To subscribe to this e-newsletter, please email mindframe@hnehealth.nsw.gov.au with 'subscribe' in the subject line.

    To view the February e-newsletter online, please click here.

    Happy reading…

    Mindframe newsletter


  • Mindframe to participate in Australian Press Council roundtable

    Tuesday, 11 February 2014

    Mindframe Program Manager Marc Bryant has been invited to participate in an Australian Press Council (APC) roundtable discussion today on behalf of the Mindframe National Media Initiative, which is managed by the Hunter Institute of Mental Health.

    Participants will comment on the Council’s proposed new General Standards of Practice, in particular the current suicide standard and the inclusion of a standard that covers mental illness/mental health. Discussions will also cover attendees’ views on the main areas of strength or weakness in the current coverage of news and opinion by newspaper and magazine publishers.

    The APC is the principal body with responsibility for developing standards of good practice in the reporting of news and comment by newspapers, magazines and their associated websites around Australia.

    For a link to Australian media codes, including the current APC guidelines, please click here.

    Media professionals are also reminded of the resources available on the Mindframe website to assist with the responsible reporting of mental illness and suicide available here and to follow the team on Twitter via @MindframeMedia.

  • Working together to ensure that Conversations Matter

    Friday, 7 February 2014

    Today the Hunter Institute of Mental Health hosted a visit from NSW Mental Health Commission (MHC) Executive Director Darryl O'Donnell and management staff to discuss their collaborative partnership on the suicide prevention resource, Conversations Matter.

    Conversations Matter is a practical online resource developed by the Hunter Institute to support community discussion about suicide. The resources are supported by the NSW Mental Health Commission and were launched at Parliament House, Sydney last November, providing support for communities and professionals to guide conversations about suicide.

    The Hunter Institute and the NSW Mental Health Commission met to plan the next phase and rollout of Conversations Matter which they are working on collaboratively.

    Director of the Hunter Institute of Mental Health Jaelea Skehan said, “We have had an overwhelming response to the initial set of Conversations Matter resources released online in November.  The team is committed to working with the Commission, the sector and the community to build the resources and the program.”

    “We are looking forward to working strategically with services to build their capacity to support community discussion.”

    Further Conversations Matter resources are currently being developed, including resources for Aboriginal communities and a stream of resources for professionals to support discussions with and within communities. 

    For more information about the resources please go to www.conversationsmatter.com.au

    If you need immediate support, services such as Lifeline 13 11 14 or www.lifeline.org.au  are available 24/7.

     MHC visit

     

  • Report released regarding homophobia and transphobia

    Friday, 7 February 2014

    Report released regarding homophobia and transphobia and the link to mental health issues for young LGBTI people

    Today the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre, partners of the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, released a report with the University of Western Sydney and Twenty10 titled ‘Growing Up Queer: Issues Facing Young Australians Who are Gender Variant and Sexuality Diverse’.

    The report looks at young people who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex or Queer (LGBTIQ) and the rates of suicide attempts and self harm as a result of homophobic and transphobic harassment and violence in Australian society.

    More than 1000 young people aged between 16–27 years of age participated in the national research study, with almost two-thirds reporting homophobic or transphobic harassment or violence across different aspects of their lives, including in schools, families, the workplace, the streets and other public sites, such as sporting events.

    This research report is part of a larger suite of resources, including five discrete short documentary-style video clips titled ‘Growing Up Queer’, which address issues of identity, family relationships, homophobia/transphobia, and sex education. Created in collaboration with young participants, the resources include the development of a play script/scenario based on research findings to be used as an interactive professional development resource for those working with young people. The play will be piloted later this year.

    The Hunter Institute welcomes this report and recognises the importance of research into the issues facing young LGBTIQ people including the ongoing need to support the mental health and wellbeing of all young people.

    As well as an ongoing commitment to mental health promotion and suicide prevention within the LGBTIQ community, staff from the Hunter Institute are currently involved in the LGBTI Champion Pilot project, an important part of the nationally funded MindOUT! project. As part of the project, LGBTI Champions are identified to assist the organisation to optimise its service delivery to LGBTI people by ensuring that the service is responsive, inclusive and safe.

    ‘Growing Up Queer: Issues Facing Young Australians Who are Gender Variant and Sexuality Diverse’ can be downloaded from www.youngandwellcrc.org.au

    For further information about the Hunter Institute of Mental Health and LGBTI Champions Pilot, please click here.

  • CHiRP Project reaches huge milestone

    Tuesday, 4 February 2014

    CHiRP is an initiative of the Hunter Institute of Mental Health based in Newcastle. It is an evidence-based mental health promotion and illness prevention program for families and carers of children and young people living with a chronic illness in Australia.

    Starting the New Year, the CHiRP team are excited to share with you that we have recruited over 150 families in 2013!! This is a huge achievement and one that we could not have done without the full support of our partnership with Kaleidoscope and in particular, the Paediatric Outpatient Clinic Staff.  We look forward to working hard in 2014 to recruit more families to achieve our project goals. 

    The CHiRP team are excited about the new challenges that the New Year might bring for our project as we now move into a new phase of further recruitment, follow up and group planning. Exciting times ahead!

    The CHiRP program is still recruiting families who are caring for a child living with a chronic illness. If you would like to participate or require any more information, please do not hesitate to contact the CHiRP team.

    E: HNELHD-Chirp@hnehealth.nsw.gov.au
    T: 02 4924 6920

     

    Chirp

  • beyondblue supports reprint of Partners In Depression facilitator manuals

    Thursday, 16 January 2014

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health is looking forward to the next roll out phase of Partners in Depression training in 2014. Partners in Depression is an education and support group program for people who love, live with or care for someone experiencing depression. It provides people with the information and tools to look after themselves and better support the person in their life with depression.

    The Hunter Institute are thankful for the continued support of beyondblue who have recently funded the reprint of  400 Partners in Depression facilitator manuals. These resources are important as they enable us to plan a new round of training to help ensure we have enough Partners in Depression facilitators qualified across the country to continue regular program delivery.

    We will be announcing the scheduling of new Partners in Depression facilitator training soon. For more information about the Partners in Depression program, please visit www.partnersindepression.com.au

  • Mindframe releases social media report into mental illness and suicide communication by the media and other sectors

    Friday, 10 January 2014

    The Mindframe National Media Initiative, managed by the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, has published its final report investigating communication by the media and other sectors around mental illness and suicide via social media. View online here.

    The outcomes of the report will be used to develop guidance for both the media and mental health and suicide preventions sectors on safe and effective use when promoting such issues.

    The report came after the Hunter Institute of Mental Health (led by the Mindframe team) and Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre (Young and Well CRC) hosted a national roundtable in Melbourne in early 2013.

    The roundtable outcomes report identified five key issues to be addressed:

    1. The research is having trouble keeping up with the technology 
    2. Guidelines for safe and effective online engagement are needed 
    3. Young people need to be empowered online 
    4. Postvention activity online requires immediate action 
    5. Innovation and collaboration are keys to success.

    Discussions around guidelines for safe and effective online engagement had a particular emphasis on duty of care of the media and mental health and suicide prevention professionals when communicating on issues around suicide, self-harm and mental illness, while staying in line with the Mindframe principles.

    Mindframe subsequently consulted with media professionals, communication professionals and journalism and public relations educators through its advisory groups. Outcomes from each consultation - including the more recent Mindframe Media Advisoy Group meeting which brought together members of Australia’s leading media organisations - are now available here.

    Mindframe aims to use the findings to build on the ongoing work of the Young and Well CRC and the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, and to develop guides for media and mental health and suicide prevention communication professionals. The team will also work closely with key stakeholders, including Suicide Prevention Australia and SANE Australia in the development of these guides.

    Mindframe Program Manager Marc Bryant said: "In each of the Mindframe meetings, we asked the professionals we work with to discuss how social media is used, the challenges and the benefits of the medium, organisational policies that support safe use, and the possibility of developing targeted Mindframe resources for social media.

    “We’re keen to use our expertise working with the sectors to develop workforce-appropriate resources to guide use of social media platforms when discussing issues around suicide and mental illness. We need to ensure this guidance is both evidence and sector-informed,” he said.

    Jaelea Skehan, Director of the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, welcomed the completion of the social media reports.

    “For the past 12 months, the Mindframe team at the Hunter Institute has been exploring social media’s broader relationship with the media and potential impact on vulnerable audiences.

    “We’re looking forward to providing more support to the media and mental health and suicide prevention sectors through the work of Mindframe,” said Ms Skehan.

    Media professionals are reminded of the resources available on the Mindframe website which assist with the responsible reporting of mental illness and suicide, and to follow the team on Twitter via @MindframeMedia.

     

  • Is Christmas really the season to be jolly, or is it a time to be endured?

    Friday, 20 December 2013

    A message from our Director Jaelea Skehan

    ‘Tis the season to be jolly. Or so the Christmas Carol goes.

    But if there is one thing I have learnt over time, it’s that the Christmas and New Year period can be anything but ‘jolly’ for many of us.

    Everyone enters the festive season with different thoughts, feelings and expectations. 
    Take my staff as an example. I have some (they shall remain nameless) who just bound with enthusiasm at this time of the year. They go to great efforts to decorate their house, the office and even their body, with things that sparkle, light up and sing.  

    And there are others, for whom the festive season is a time of year to be tolerated rather than enjoyed.  To be completely honest, I am one of those people. 

    I used to enjoy Christmas. I really did. Getting together with my cousins to open up our presents, and debating whose would get the annual award for “worst in show” was a highlight. A time when the joy of Christmas was spending time with people, eating our family’s terrible cooking and admiring the lop-sided tree. 

    But over time, some of those family relationships have strained and most sadly, some of my family members are no longer with us. In adulthood, I find it harder to have that child-like joy associated with Christmas.

    Instead, I often enter December tired and run-down. I am then faced with end of year deadlines, social events I don’t really want to attend and I watch as people spend money they really do not have.  All of this leaves me just hanging out for Boxing Day, when I can turn my attention to my second love – test cricket.

    So this year I have decided on a new approach. I have made a plan.
    And instead of writing another story on my tips for other people this festive period, I thought I would share the things I am going to do for myself in the hope they might be useful for others.

    Firstly, I finished work a week earlier this year so I can implement the rest of my plan. I usually work right up until Christmas, feeling stressed and tired by the time the 25th rolls around. 

    I am also going to focus on my own health and wellbeing.  I’m going to do the things I tell other people to do - get more sleep, add healthy options to my diet and exercise every day. I am also going to allow myself to have periods of ‘doing nothing’.

    Thirdly, I am going to minimise the commercial aspects of Christmas that I dislike so much.  I’m going to spend less money on presents and I’m going to give more money to charity.  I am also going to focus on gifts that allow me to do something with the people I love.

    Also importantly, I am going to nurture my relationships and prioritise my time.  I’m going to feel okay about saying ‘no’ to social events, so I can spend more quality time with friends and family. That means phone calls to friends afar and relaxed time with those I care about the most.

    Finally, I am going to give myself permission to feel a little sad at Christmas. For anyone who has experienced a loss you will know the feeling of being kicked in the stomach that can come up at times when we are expected to be happiest. I am going to allow myself to feel that way, but also build in experiences that create new memories.

    I am unsure how much these strategies will improve my experience of Christmas, but at least this year I have a plan. For those of you who feel the way I do, perhaps this is the year for you to create a plan as well.

    For the ‘Griswalds’ among us who will sing, dance and decorate their way through Christmas, I say – enjoy! But, perhaps you can spare a thought for those around you that may not feel that a partridge in a pear tree is the best thing to ever happen.

    The next time someone tells you they don’t like Christmas, it could be an opportunity to ask them R U OK? and have a real conversation about why they feel that way.

    For those among us who may be struggling at this time of year – perhaps thinking about things that have changed, people that are no longer with us, or wrestling with the black dog, my thoughts are with you. 

    No matter how isolated you may feel, remember you are never alone.  Our essential services and telephone helplines will be there for you 24 hours a day, every day across the ‘so-called’ festive season.

    For immediate support – Lifeline 13 11 14; Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467
    For further information on supporting others – www.ruokday.com or www.conversationsmatter.com.au


  • The Hunter Institute wishes you a safe and Merry Christmas

    Thursday, 19 December 2013

    Wishing you a happy and healthy Christmas!

    This year we have continued our commitment to promoting wellbeing and preventing mental ill-health and suicide across Australia. 

    We would like to acknowledge the significant support we have received from our local and national partners, funders and collaborators. When we work together; individuals, families and communities benefit.  

    We wish you and those you care about an enjoyable, safe and mentally healthy festive season. We hope you take time out to nurture yourself and your relationships. 

    We look forward to new opportunities and the challenges that the New Year might bring for our organisation, the sector more broadly and the communities we work with and for.

    Staff at the Hunter Institute of Mental Health

    HIMH Christmas Card

  • Amy Vee interviewed on Studio 10 about music and mental health

    Tuesday, 10 December 2013

    This morning Amy Vee, a Senior Projects Officer at the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, appeared on Channel Ten's morning show Studio10 You, to discuss why music is important for our mental health.

    Recently Amy wrote a piece for Croakey about the positive effect music has on people and how it supports our mental health and wellbeing.

    Amy explained that whilst many of us are probably aware that music makes us feel better, there is now increasing evidence to show how it does affect people.

    "Research continues to strengthen positive links between music, mind and mental health. As I performer I hope that my music connects with people's own stories and helps them out when they're struggling".

    Studio10 invited Amy to come on the show and talk about how music engages us and the connection between her music and her audience.

    Aside from working at the Hunter Institute, Amy Vee is a professional musician/songwriter with a passion for links between mental health, the arts and community.

    For more information about Amy Vee and her music, please visit www.amyvee.com

    Amy Vee

  • Hunter Institute congratulates Newcastle Herald for winning Walkley Awards

    Tuesday, 3 December 2013

    The Hunter Institute of Mental health, and our Mindframe project team, would like to congratulate all the nominees and winners of this year's Walkley Awards, particularly the staff at our local newspaper the Newcastle Herald.

    The biggest award of the night - the 2013 Gold Walkley Award - was won by Newcastle Herald journalist Joanne McCarthy for her reporting on child sex abuse within institutions, principally the Catholic Church, and leading a campaign which prompted a Royal Commission.

    Joanne recently appeared on a panel at the Mindframe and Dart Journalism and Trauma 'Reporting on the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse’ media forum at ABC in Sydney.

    For more information click here and to view Mindframe's tip sheet for media reporting on the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, click here.

    The Newcastle Herald's editor Chad Watson, along with Joanne McCarthy, Ian Kirkwood and Jason Gordon also won the Media Coverage of Community and Regional Affairs Walkley award for their 'Shine the Light' series.

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health has a longstanding relationship with the Newcastle Herald, and Chad Watson sits on our Mindframe Media Advisory Group (MMAG) which meets annually and reviews all of Mindframe's core resources.

    Media professionals are reminded of the resources available on our Mindframe website which assist with the responsible reporting of mental illness and suicide. Please click here for more information, or follow the team on Twitter via @MindframeMedia.

  • Research forum to tackle mining and mental health

    Wednesday, 27 November 2013

    Researchers from across Australia will attend a forum in Newcastle today to discuss mental health in mining and other related industries. This event brings together leaders in research and practitioners to review current approaches, explore challenges, and discuss strategies to improve the mental health and wellbeing of the mining workforce.

    The Mental Health and Mining Research Forum is being hosted by a local consortium including the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, Newcastle Institute for Energy and Resources (NIER) and the University of Newcastle.

    The forum comes off the back of the establishment of a collaborative research program led by the University of Newcastle, together with the Hunter Institute of Mental Health and the Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health, ensuring the organisations works together to improve the mental health of people working in the minerals industry. Coordinated under the Newcastle Institute for Energy and Resources, this program is working alongside industry partners.

    The group is leading an innovative research project, funded under the Australian Coal Association Research Program (ACARP) to look at mental health and wellbeing in the Coal Mining Industry across New South Wales and Queensland.

    This research will give a first-ever snapshot of the extent of mental health problems in the coal mining industry as well as piloting targeted interventions to address mental health problems and maximise wellbeing.
    Brian Kelly, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Newcastle, leads the ACARP funded research program and said the forum was a valuable opportunity for researchers and industry to work together on positive outcomes for the mining workforce.

    “The forum brings together researchers from across the country working in this emerging field.   By exchanging knowledge and sharing experiences, we can identify the best way to move forward with our industry partners to learn more about mental health in the workplace.

    “Research into mental health and mining is occurring in a number of universities and research centres in Australia with the potential for collaboration between researchers and industry in this emerging area,” he said.

    The forum will bring together researchers from Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland as well as representatives from the minerals industry and other organisations leading work in workplace mental health.
    Director of the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, Jaelea Skehan said it is important that researchers and industry work together to support and create the conditions for improved mental health in the workplace. 

    “We know there has been a lot of discussion about the value of addressing mental health and wellbeing through the workplace, but we also have to identify the most effective ways to do that based on research evidence and the specific needs of industries such as mining.

    “It is our hope that the forum will lead to further collaboration in research and practice to ensure best mental health outcomes for communities” she said.

    To find out more about our work in mining and mental health click here.

  • NSW Transcultural Mental Health Centre celebrates 20 years

    Tuesday, 26 November 2013

    Last night, Director of the Hunter Institute of Mental Health attended a function at the National Maritime Museum to mark 20 years of service by the NSW Transcultural Mental Health Centre.

    The event was hosted by NSW Mental Health Commissioner, John Feneley and attended by the NSW Minister for Mental Health, Hon Kevin Humphries MP.

    When reflecting on the milestone, Jaelea Skehan recalled how fortunate the NSW community and mental health services were to have such expertise available to them.

    “It is easy the think that in a multicultural society like Australia that services like the NSW Transcultural Mental Health Centre would be an essential service.  But in reality, across Australia there are still many states without a similar service in 2013,” said Jaelea Skehan.

    “We have been fortunate in NSW to have the skills and experience of leaders like Maria Cassaniti and her staff at the Transcultural Mental Health Centre to call on for advice and support.”

    “What has made the Centre different to other similar organisations has been their commitment to community engagement and mental health promotion alongside their clinical expertise.”

    A highlight of the evening was listening to Ms Lily Wu, talk about her personal experience of mental illness and her experience as being and advocate for other people with a lived experience of mental illness who come from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

    “It is important to recognise the expertise of people living with a mental illness and ensure they have a voice in service delivery and larger population level interventions. It is also important that those voices represent and celebrate the diversity of the Australian community as well” said Jaelea Skehan.

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health has been fortunate to work with the NSW Transcultural Mental Health Centre on both mental health and suicide prevention projects. 

    We wish them every success for another 20 years of service and look forward to working with them well into the future.

  • Why mental health is music to your ears

    Tuesday, 26 November 2013

    By Amy Vee

    Research continues to strengthen positive links between music, mind and mental health.

    While laying the foundations of Western philosophy, Plato wrote: “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.” Most of us would agree - perhaps in not so many words - that music makes us feel good. What’s heartening to know is that now more than ever, scientific research supports this notion.

    In 2006, a US study purported that music can alleviate depression by up to 25%. More recent studies have given weight to theories that music can boost the immune system, improve cognitive functioning, reduce stress and pain, alter perception and aid in treatment for a range of mental and physical illnesses.

    Just this month, research out of the US, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, linked lifelong musical training to faster brain responses in older age, particularly with regard to speech, stating that “music instruction may set the stage for future interactions with sound”.

    So, if music stimulates our minds and improves our wellbeing, what about the proverbial ‘tortured artist’ we see perpetuated in media and fiction? Does mental illness (including substance abuse) affect creativity? Are the psychedelic meanderings of Pink Floyd’s former frontman Syd Barrett and the despondent moans of indie icon Morrissey - both of whom have experience of mental illness - attributable to their ‘mad genius’?

    What seems lacking from this theory is consideration of the debilitating and sometimes paralysing effects of untreated or unmanaged chronic mental illness, psychological crisis or substance dependency. Someone in the deep chasm of depression or the fugue of psychosis may be unable to string cohesive thoughts together, let alone pen a generation-defining tune. 

    These assumptions also ignore two other important facts: a) many people live very full and productive lives while managing their mental illness and b) not everyone with a mental illness will feel the inclination towards artistic pursuit.

    What’s more, while many of us use music to alleviate stress or help get us through the day, the people who pursue music as a profession are often subject to a lifestyle that is not conducive to good physical or mental health. Lack of sleep and exercise, exposure to alcohol and other drugs, long travel hours,  and struggling to pay bills or buy healthy food, are all facts of life for many a touring musician. Not to mention the scrutiny and pressure of fame for those who rise to the top.

    Just recently, prominent Irish singer-songwriter Sinead O’Connor spoken publicly about the impact of misunderstandings about mental illness and how assumptions can be detrimental not only to those experiencing illness, but to those who are looking to seek help but fear the stigma of a label. Watch her interview with TIME magazine here: http://entertainment.time.com/2013/11/14/sinead-oconnor-miley/

    We now know that around 45% of the general population will experience some sort of mental health problem during their lives. Therefore, nearly half of our favourite musicians will have been through some sort of experience of mental ill-health at some point. The decision about if or how this reflects in their work will be as individual, diverse and private as any person’s experience of illness.

    Musician or not, there are many things we can do to improve our wellbeing through music. Whether  playing an instrument or humming a tune, listening to familiar songs or discovering new ones, going to a concert with friends or just putting on some headphones, music can be a powerful and healing force.  The ever-growing and scientifically robust field of music therapy is evidence of this.

    Music plays a particularly important role in young people’s lives, contributing to identity, expression and socialisation. Incidentally, many mental health problems and disorders have their onset in childhood or adolescence, or are related to important risk and protective factors that may occur during childhood or adolescence. 

    It seems intuitive to use music as a means of helping young people to gauge their mental health and engage with the issues around mental wellbeing. A great example of this (which, in the interest of full disclosure, I’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of) is the “Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog” youth band competition, coordinated by the Hunter Institute of Mental Health in Newcastle NSW.

    Now in its fourth year, the annual competition is designed to raise awareness of mental health issues among young people in the Hunter and surrounding areas, providing a platform for emerging artists and encouraging more open discussion about mental health issues among young people. It has also been instrumental in increasing awareness of available services, such as headspace Hunter and Newcastle – both key partners in this year’s competition.

    Most importantly, the competition is a platform for connection and an opportunity for young people to find common ground on important issues in a safe, positive and fun environment. According to the World Health Organisation, social connectedness and a sense of belonging are thought to be key determinants of good mental wellbeing. 

    For me, it’s affirming to know that music is playing a role in keeping conversations about mental health flowing. After all, it’s been over two millennia since Plato mused that “music and rhythm find their way into the secret places of the soul”. He was definitely on to something.

    Amy Vee is a professional musician/songwriter, psychology graduate and Senior Project Officer at the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, with a passion for links between mental health, the arts and community.

     

  • Postnatal Depression Awareness Week

    Friday, 22 November 2013

    This week is Postnatal Depression Awareness Week, an opportunity to promote awareness of mental health and wellbeing in the antenatal and postnatal periods, and encourage new and expectant parents to seek help early, and break down some of the stigma surrounding this common health issue. 

    Postnatal depression affects one in seven women following childbirth in Australia. It should not be confused with the ‘baby blues’, which usually passes within a few days. Anxiety disorders are also common and can occur alone or with depression. Fathers and partners can also experience mental health problems around this time.

    Having helpful and supportive family and friends can make recovering from postnatal depression much easier.  It is just as important to look after yourself while in such a caring role.  Programs such as Partners in Depression can provide supportive family and friends with information and support as they care for someone experiencing postnatal depression.  To find a facilitator or group near you, visit the website at: www.partnersindepression.com.au.

    People concerned about perinatal mental health can learn more by visiting www.justspeakup.com.au or www.panda.org.au. They can also learn more about Postnatal Depression Awareness Week by visiting www.mentalhealth.asn.au.

  • Conversations Matter: World first for suicide prevention launched in Australia

    Wednesday, 13 November 2013

    Conversations Matter

    The NSW Minister for Mental Health, the Hon. Kevin Humphries MP, today launched a world-first online community resource to guide safe and supportive conversations about suicide.

    Conversations Matter has been developed by the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, supported by the NSW Mental Health Commission, and funded under the NSW Suicide Prevention Strategy 2010-2015.

    Director of the Hunter Institute, Jaelea Skehan said it was important to talk about suicide but that communities needed assistance to ensure the conversations were safe and effective.

    “In many ways, talking about suicide is the same as talking about any important but sensitive issue. It is better to talk about it than to avoid it all together,” she said.

    “However, there are some things we all need to know. We need to ensure that as a community, we are not ‘too afraid’ to talk about suicide, while making sure that the conversations we have are informed, safe and helpful.

    “It is important that we empower communities to talk about this issue, but also important that we ensure that the suicide prevention sector is providing consistent advice so the messages can be reinforced.”

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health developed Conversations Matter in partnership with suicide prevention organisations, government departments, academics, community organisations, people who have previously attempted or been bereaved by suicide, and community members in New South Wales and across Australia.

    This first suite of online resources has been developed for all community members including individuals, families, schools, workplaces and local communities.

    Available online and accessible on tablets and mobile devices, Conversations Matter supports one-on-one and group discussions. Each community resource is available on the Conversations Matter website in three different formats: an online presentation, fact sheet and audio podcast.

    The NSW Mental Health Commissioner, John Feneley, said it was important to recognise the valuable role of individuals and the enormous capacity within the community to support people affected by suicide. 

    “In our community we all have an important role to play in understanding, preventing and responding to suicide, and in supporting those directly affected by suicide,” Mr Feneley said.

    “With access to the practical information in Conversations Matter, people in the community can be empowered to talk about suicide in ways that break down stigma, increase understanding and support those thinking about suicide or affected by suicide,” he said.

    Further Conversations Matter community resources are currently being developed for specific groups and settings, including young people and Aboriginal communities. Resources will be available in early 2014 for professionals who need advice about how best to engage with and support communities to talk about suicide.

    The Conversations Matter resources are available today at www.conversationsmatter.com.au. To view the Conversations Matter animation, click here

  • Mindframe staff attend AICA Conference in Canberra

    Friday, 1 November 2013

    The Mindframe National Media Initiative, managed by the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, are co-presenting with beyondblue at this year's Australian Indigenous Communications Association (AICA) Conference – Digital and Deadly – which commenced yesterday in Canberra and concludes this afternoon.

    Mindframe and beyondblue co-sponsored the ‘Indigenous Broadcasters Dinner’ held last night, and presented a 30-minute workshop on ‘Telling stories of hope and community’ to a packed house yesterday afternoon. Feedback from the workshop has been fantastic, with attendees such as ACT Health saying, “thank you for such an informative session”.  Our Mindframe staff have also been manning an exhibition booth with beyondblue at the conference.

    The presentations and workshops have been exploring the current and future challenges for Indigenous media in this country and showcase examples of regionally produced content that address national health promotion initiatives and support community media providers at the grassroots level.

    Issues being covered include how to creatively source funding for local content development; how to deal with anti-social social media; the development of a National Indigenous Media Charter; and the progress of AICA’s national learning and development and research and innovation projects.

    While in Canberra, Mindframe staff members are also providing training for the Wesley Lifeforce Network, Lifeline (national), the Mental Health Council of Australia and the Australian Federal Police.
    More information on the AICA Conference is available at www.aicainc.org.au/general/digital-deadly-the-future-of-indigenous-media/

     

    AICA 1

    AICA 2

    AICA 4

     

    AICA 3

  • Tips for supporting your own wellbeing

    Wednesday, 30 October 2013

    As we near the end of Mental Health Month, it is important to remember that we should all be looking after our wellbeing every day of the year. Events such as Mental Health Month exist to remind us to keep things in check, look after ourselves and take some time out.

    In the business that is life, it is nice every now and then to get a reminder to slow down and make time, but sometimes we need a little support to do so. Our Child and Youth team have put together some information and tips to assist you in looking after your wellbeing.

    What is wellbeing?

    Wellbeing is a state of feeling good about ourselves and the way our lives are going.
    We experience wellbeing when we:

    • are physically and mentally well;
    • spiritually aware;
    • connected and have positive relationships with others;
    • feel a sense of control over our life;
    • feel that our life has purpose.

    Wellbeing is influenced by our culture, values, social setting and our general state of health. It can change over time and we may experience periods of relatively good wellbeing, and times when our wellbeing is challenged.  No two individuals are the same; making each person’s experience of optimal wellbeing different.

    Why is it important?

    Positive wellbeing is important because it helps us to function well and it provides us with feelings of happiness, enjoyment, curiosity, contentment and engagement. It also contributes to our mental health so that we can enjoy life, maintain positive relationships and work towards our goals.

    What can you do?

    You can promote your wellbeing by:

    • establishing and maintaining social relationships;
    • engaging in regular physical activity;
    • taking notice of the world around you and your feelings;
    • engaging in learning;
    • actively participating in social and community life.

    Some helpful tips

    Learning healthy and flexible ways to recognise and deal with stressful situations is a good way to improve your mental wellbeing. Almost every day we are faced with things that make us feel worried or stressed. Sometimes we have control of these situations and sometimes we don’t, however there are ways we can face them that support our wellbeing.

    Some things you can do next time this happens to you are:

    • recognise you are feeling stressed and try to identify the causes;
    • call a friend to catch up;
    • do one thing at a time – no multitasking;
    • offer and accept help from others;
    • go out of your way to make someone’s day;
    • make time for fun;
    • learn more about something that interests you;
    • write things down;
    • let go of what you can’t control;
    • walk wherever you can.

    Remember that looking after your wellbeing is important for you and your loved ones.

    If at any time you feel you or your family next some extra support, please contact one of the services listed here www.himh.org.au/home/need-help

    Sources for our wellbeing tips and links to further information:
    Response Ability Education www.responseabilty.org
    The Wellbeing Australia Network www.wellbeingaustralia.com.au
    The Mental Health Association of NSW www.mentalhealth.asn.au

     

  • Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog winner playing Fat as Butter tomorrow!

    Friday, 25 October 2013


    The day has finally arrived and 16-year-old local James Osborn is bursting with excitement about performing his set at the well-known Fat as Butter music festival.

    Being his first major music event alongside international and national acts, James believes the experience will be an “opportunity of a lifetime”.

    James was the crowd favourite at our grand final and had everyone up dancing and singing when he hit the stage.

    We have no doubt that he will have the punters dancing along to his melodic voice when he performs on the Butter Stage at 12.40pm.

    James will be performing alongside the likes of Bliss N Eso, Boy & Bear, Matt Corby, the Rubens and many more national and international music acts.

    If you are going to the Fat as Butter festival, don’t miss his performance - you won’t be disappointed!

  • Putting the spotlight on carers for National Carers Week

    Thursday, 17 October 2013

    This week is National Carers Week, and is also Mental Health Month in New South Wales, so now is an ideal time to put the spotlight on the vital role played by people who love and support people living with a mental illness.

    In Australia, there are approximately 2.6 million carers, which is about 12% of the population. Even with this conservative estimate, it is likely that you personally know a carer, need a carer or are a carer yourself. However we know that many people do not identify themselves as ‘carers’ and this is true for those who support a person living with a mental illness. This can make them invisible to governments and communities, and result in their needs being overlooked despite the support they may require to look after themselves while fulfilling their roles.

    Carers provide unpaid care and support to family members and friends however the focus of what they do for others, and the significant difference they make to their lives, is usually at the forefront of people’s minds rather than focusing on the needs of the carers themselves. The practical, physical, economic and emotional demands of supporting a loved one with a mental illness (and illness for that matter) can be enormous. Carers Week gives us the opportunity to not only recognise their contribution, but more importantly have a conversation about their wellbeing and the risk of mental ill-health that the caring role can bring. 

    While many carers will have positive experiences of caring for someone, caring can come at a cost to their own health with carers being at risk of developing poorer health and wellbeing than non-carers. Research conducted by the Hunter Institute of Mental Health as part of the Partners in Depression program, supported findings that families, carers and friends experience poor physical and mental health, challenges with their relationships and reduced participation in social activities.

    Over 70% of program participants reported high levels of psychological distress at levels that would indicate a risk to their own mental health and wellbeing. This comes as no surprise when a large proportion of participants reported providing care and support to more than one person, with complex combinations of physical and mental health problems.

    Partners in Depression Logo

    Partners in Depression is a program especially developed to provide those people who love, live with or care for a person living with depression, with the necessary information and tools to build individual and family resilience, and to manage the impacts of their caring role on their own mental and physical wellbeing. The results from the national evaluation showed that the program contributed to immediate and sustained improvements in mental health and wellbeing, and to improvements in family relationships and social participation.

    If you are a carer yourself or know someone who may benefit from this program, please contact us at pid@hnehealth.nse.gov.au or visit our website for more information www.partnersindepression.com.au

    To find out more about the national evaluation of the Partners in Depression national evaluation visit: www.partnersindepression.com.au/Community/program/evaluation

    For more information about carers, visit www.carersaustralia.com.au

  • James Osborn, winner of Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog for 2013

    Friday, 11 October 2013

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health is excited to announce that the 2013 winner of the Youth Rockin' the Black Dog competition was JAMES OSBORN!

    At 16 years old, solo artist James has developed into a talented and enthusiastic musician and it is clear that he has big plans ahead of him.

    James has played at pubs, restaurants and private functions around the Hunter region since he was 13 and is set to be a regular performer in the local music scene.

    The crowd favourite, James had everyone up dancing and singing when he hit the stage. Congratulations on a great performance.

    As part of his prize package, James will be performing at the Fat As Butter festival in Newcastle in October alongside the likes of Bliss N Eso, Boy and Bear, Matt Corby and many more big music acts.

    Second place in the competition was given to Sons of Alamo from the Central Coast, and Newcastle band Montague took out third place.

    Our panel of local music industry judges found the grand final very difficult to score, with acts pulling out all the stops on stage to fight for the main prize. It was a great night and the talent was amazing.

    We would like to thank all of the bands who participated in the event and we look forward to our 2014 Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog music competition being even bigger and better!

     

    James Osborn


  • Movin’ the Mood festival tomorrow

    Friday, 11 October 2013

    What are your plans for tomorrow?

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health are supporting the Movin' the Mood festival being hosted by the Samaritans on our James Fletcher campus - 72 Watt st, Newcastle.

    The inaugural event is being held to celebrate mental health, wellbeing and recovery.

    Come along between 10am and 2pm for entertainment, stalls and yummy food.

    There will be many free activities including a photo booth, live bands, sports demonstrations and activities, drumming, henna body art and tie dying.

    Everyone is welcome to attend with their families, friends and children.

    The Hunter Institute are excited to announce that James Osborn, our 2013 Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog winner, will be playing two sets to get the crowd moving: 12.40-12.55pm and 1.15-1.30pm.

    Come and say hello to us, we are holding an interactive stall at the festival and would like to encourage you to get involved in our fun activity! Building on the success of our video for Mental Health Month, we are taking the concept live to festivalgoers.

    Our staff will be building a mental health wall of suggestions from community members on what they do for their mental health. With cameras in hand, they will be taking a photo of individuals who join in the fun and then posting the photos to Facebook. People who participate can then enter our competition to win a gift pack!

    For more information on the festival please click here for the event poster.

    We hope to see you there tomorrow!

  • A message from our Director on World Mental Health Day

    Thursday, 10 October 2013

    Today, 10 October, is World Mental Health Day.

    A day for everyone to stop and think about what they can do to improve their own mental health and wellbeing as well as what they can do to support the mental health of others around them.

    But I will let you in on a secret. Days like World Mental Health Day (including mental health week and month) can actually be quite stressful for those of us working in the sector.

    This week we often scramble to try and get media coverage for the issue we specialise in, organise and attend events that engage the community, not to mention the pressure from funding bodies to “launch” and “announce” things during mental health week or month.

    So today, on World Mental Health Day, I said no to all of the external offers to speak at events and decided that this year the Institute would not host anything or launch anything on the 10 October.

    Instead, I will take time out and spend the morning with my colleagues here at the Institute to reinforce the point that our own mental health and wellbeing is also important.

    Like most people, my work colleagues are the people that I spend more of my time with than anyone else.  The people who line up alongside me every day at work to promote mental health and prevent mental illness and its impact on a local and national scale.

    They are also the people who support me when I am tired and sick, the people who understand my sense of humour enough to send me something that I will find funny and the people who bring me pink donuts when I am having a bad day.

    The Mental Health Council of Australia are running a campaign this year titled “Mental Health Begins With Me”.  And it does. We can all make a commitment to mental health, and more importantly our own mental health and wellbeing.

    So this morning, do not write and do not call because I have quarantined a “mental health hour” for myself and my staff.  A better idea would be to take an hour for yourself, your family, your friends or your colleagues to reflect on what mental health means to you.

    And if you need some inspiration, why not check out this short video we prepared earlier that describes what mental health means to us:

     

    Hunter Institute of Mental Health celebrates Mental Health Month

    Link to YouTube clip: http://youtu.be/CPAQk_Cog3o

  • Deadline looms for 2013 JEAA Ossie Awards - Mindframe for Journalism Education category

    Wednesday, 2 October 2013

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health are calling on all journalism students to submit their entries for the Mindframe for Journalism Education category as part of this year's JEAA Ossie Awards!

    The annual Ossie Awards are organised by the Journalism Education Association of Australia.

    Each year Mindframe, managed by the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, offers a prize of $200 for a piece (in any media format) which safely, responsibly and accurately covers mental health or suicide.

    The deadline for the Ossie Awards is fast approaching, with entries closing this Friday, October 4. Deadline extensions will be considered on a case by case basis.

    For more information and to enter the competition, please visit http://www.jeaa.org.au/the-ossie-awards/213/
    Winners will be announced at the JEAA conference dinner in Mooloolaba on Queensland's Sunshine Coast in early December.

    More information on Mindframe, including facts and statistics, is available here.

    Enquiries regarding the Mindframe Ossie Award can be directed to Kristy Platt on 02 4924 6929 or Kristy.Platt@hnehealth.nsw.gov.au

  • Hunter Institute of Mental Health receives two awards announced at Parliament House today

    Tuesday, 1 October 2013

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health has received two Certificate's of Commendation at the Mental Health Matters Awards presented by the New South Wales Minister for Mental Health, Kevin Humphries at Parliament House today.

    The Institute was recognised for its work on the Mindframe National Media Initiative in the 'Cross Sector Collaboration' category and its work on the Partners in Depression Program in the 'Research and Evaluation' category. 

    Jaelea Skehan, Director of the Hunter Institute of Mental Health said: "These two awards reflect the Institute's commitment to working in partnership and our commitment to building the evidence base for promotion and prevention approaches."

    "We have had a big year with the release of the national evaluation of the Partners in Depression program and in working closely with both the media and mental health sectors to review the existing Mindframe resources and approaches," she said.  

    Mindframe has been committed to cross sector collaboration since its establishment over 15 years ago, and continues to work in partnership with key stakeholders in the media, mental health and suicide prevention, police, education and stage and screen sectors.

    Mindframe Program Manager Marc Bryant said, “I’d like to pass on my thanks to the Mindframe team at the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, past and present, for the hard work they’ve put in building partnerships with stakeholders within these sectors.

    “These partnerships have played a critical role in raising the media’s awareness of guidelines for reporting on mental health, mental illness and suicide,” he said.

    The theme for this year’s Mental Health Month in NSW is 'Kindness: little acts, big impacts!' This theme promotes kindness to oneself and to others, as everyone faces challenges that you might not be aware of. Practising compassion and being kind is beneficial to everyone’s health and wellbeing.

    You can register your event in the Mental Health Month calendar here or download a starter kit to find out more about Mental Health Month here.

    Media and mental health professionals are reminded of the Hunter Institute of Mental Health resources available on the Mindframe website which assist with the responsible reporting of mental illness and mental health. Please click here for more information, visit the Mindframe website at www.mindframe-media.info, or follow the team on Twitter via @MindframeMedia.

    For copies of the National Evaluation of Partners in Depression  please visit: www.partnersindepression.com.au/Community/program/evaluation

  • Partners in Depression wins Delegates Award for Best E-Poster

    Tuesday, 24 September 2013

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health has won their second Achievement Award for Partners in Depression, winning the Delegate’s Choice for Best E-Poster Award at the recent Australian and New Zealand Mental Health Services Conference.

    The educational e-posters were on display throughout the conference, and delegates attending the event were asked to vote for the one they found to be most creative and informative about the program represented in the resource.

    The Hunter Institute also won the 2013 Special Judges Partnership Practices Award for Partners in Depression, which was presented on the day at the conference opening ceremony in Melbourne.

    The Mental Health Service Achievement Awards are held annually at the conference, awarding best practice, excellence and innovation in mental health service delivery.

    To view the winning e-poster, click here.

  • Finalist line-up for youth band comp

    Tuesday, 24 September 2013

    Six finalists have been chosen across three heats of the Youth Rockin' the Black DogTM (YRBD) music competition to battle it out for a spot at this year’s Fat As Butter festival.

    Acts were judged across three heats held at the Loft Youth Arts and Cultural Centre throughout September according to their musicianship, stage presence, originality, professionalism, audience response and festival worthiness. 

    Local music industry judges said it was hard to choose finalists because the quality of all the acts was exceptional. Top acts scored in the 90 percent range and many scored within .5 of each other.
    The six competing finalists for the YRBD grand final event are:
     
    1. People’s Palace
    2. James Osborn
    3. Geography of Mars
    4. Montagu
    5. QnRoo
    6. Sons of Alamo
     
    Along with the chance to perform at the Fat As Butter festival, finalists will compete for professionally recorded and mastered EP package.  Other prizes include professional recording packages and cash prizes.
    The grand final event will take place on Wednesday, 9 October, at Lizotte’s Newcastle, Morehead Street, Lambton. Entry is $13.00. For bookings, phone (02) 4956 2066 or visit www.newcastle.lizottes.com.au.

    YRBD finalYRBD is an annual music competition designed to raise awareness of mental health issues among young people in the Hunter and surrounding areas.  As well as being a platform for emerging music artists, the competition encourages young people to get thinking and talking about mental health issues with friends, family and networks and aims to promote a range of local and national services available to support young people.

    For competition information, go to:
    www.himh.org.au/YRBD ,
    or the YRBD Facebook page at:
    www.facebook.com/YRBDbandcomp

  • Geography of Mars take-off in youth band comp

    Monday, 23 September 2013

    Three piece rock outfit Geography of Mars took out finalist position and the People’s Choice Award for the third heat of the Youth Rockin' the Black DogTM (YRBD) music competition on Wednesday night, 18 September.

    The heat took place at the Loft Youth Arts and Cultural Centre with 80 audience members in attendance.  

    Panellist judge Dane Baldwin (musician and drummer for country artists Morgan Evans and Travis Collins) said: “I was very impressed by the level of talent in the youth. Judging the acts for a finalist was hard.  My final scores for each were only points apart.”  Competing alongside the finalist were rock acts such as, Primal Envy, Out Of Context, Montagu, blues/rock act The Letter Tellers, and hip-hop artist Kqash.

    Acts from each heat are judged according to their musicianship, stage presence, originality, professionalism, audience response and festival worthiness. 

    YRBD is an annual music competition designed to raise awareness of mental health issues among young people in the Hunter and surrounding areas.  As well as being a platform for emerging music artists, the competition encourages young people to get thinking and talking about mental health issues with friends, family and networks and aims to promote the range of local and national services available to support young people.

    The grand final event will take place on Wednesday, 9 October, at Lizotte’s Newcastle, Morehead Street, Lambton. Entry is $13.00. For bookings, phone (02) 4956 2066 or visit www.newcastle.lizottes.com.au.

    Apart from Geography of Mars, heat finalists performing at the grand final event are: People’s Palace and James Osborn. A further three finalists will be announced on the YRBD website and facebook page by Friday 20 September, 5pm.

    For competition information, go to:
    www.himh.org.au/YRBD ,
    or the YRBD Facebook page at:
    www.facebook.com/YRBDbandcomp

    Geography of Mars

  • James Osborn to compete in youth band comp grand final

    Monday, 16 September 2013

    Acoustic artist James Osborn took out the finalist position and the People’s Choice Award for the second heat of the Youth Rockin' the Black DogTM (YRBD) music competition on Wednesday night, 11 September.

    The heat took place at the Loft Youth Arts and Cultural Centre with 115 audience members in attendance. Resident judge Shane Crooks of Musos Corner said: “The calibre of all the acts so far has been amazing and makes judging a hard task.”  Competing alongside the finalist were rock acts such as, Ripple Effect, Youth Avenue, QnRoo and acoustic artist Spencer Scott.

    Acts from each heat are judged according to their musicianship, stage presence, originality, professionalism, audience response and festival worthiness.

    YRBD is an annual music competition designed to raise awareness of mental health issues among young people in the Hunter and surrounding areas.  As well as being a platform for emerging music artists, the competition encourages young people to get thinking and talking about mental health issues with friends, family and networks and aims to promote the range of local and national services available to support young people.

    Heat three will take place on Wednesday, 18 September, at the Loft Youth Arts and Cultural Centre in Wolfe Street, Newcastle.

    The next six acts to compete are from a range of hip-hop and rock genres and include, Kqash, Out Of Context, The Letter Tellers, Primal Envy, Geography of Mars and Montagu.  Doors open at 6.30pm.  Entry is a gold coin donation.

    For competition information, go to: www.himh.org.au/YRBD , or the YRBD Facebook page at:
    www.facebook.com/YRBDbandcomp


    YRBD heat 2 winner

     

  • Practical community resources announced for discussing suicide

    Tuesday, 10 September 2013

    Conversations Matter

    To coincide with World Suicide Prevention Day, a new online resource to support community discussion of suicide has been announced this morning. Conversations Matter, developed by the Hunter Institute of Mental Health and funded by the NSW Ministry of Health, will provide practical information to support communities and the suicide prevention sector.

    Conversations Matter has been developed for community members, professionals and Aboriginal communities to guide discussions to ensure that people feel supported to have safe conversations. 

    These resources, available in late October, will provide useful information for one-on-one and group conversations. People will be able to utilise the information and apply the tools in all aspects of their lives; families, schools, workplaces, local communities, specific community groups or settings such as churches and recreation groups.

    Jaelea Skehan, Director of the Hunter Institute of Mental Health said that Conversations Matter is an important resource. While communities want to be involved and talk about the issue, it can be challenging without information and guidance. 

    “We need to ensure that individuals, families and communities are not ‘too afraid’ to talk about suicide, while also ensuring that conversations are informed, safe and effective.”

    Jaelea explains that the resources will not only be important for individuals and the community, but will also be a vital tool for professionals and support services working in the sector.

    “It is important that we empower communities to talk about this issue, but also important that we ensure that the suicide prevention sector is providing consistent advice so the messages can be reinforced.

    “The resources are not meant to replace other programs or services, but support all of our work so that there can be consistent and clear messages for individuals and communities that need it”.

    Conversations Matter is the resources developed under the project originally called “Community Guidelines for Discussing Suicide”, funded under the NSW Suicide Prevention Strategy 2010-2015. The Hunter Institute of Mental Health was contracted by the NSW Ministry of Health (Mental Health and Drug and Alcohol Office) to work in consultation with a state-wide steering committee to develop the resources to support community conversations about suicide.

    The resources are currently being developed and will be available from late October at www.conversationsmatter.com.au.

    For more specific information regarding the project stages and the steering committee, please click here.

  • Australian approach to media and suicide

    Monday, 9 September 2013

    Hunter Institute of Mental Health Director Jaelea Skehan is set to provide a keynote presentation at the National Suicide Prevention 2013 Conference in Auckland, New Zealand this week.

    Jaelea will also provide a pre-conference “media and suicide” workshop for suicide prevention staff today ahead of delivering the presentation tomorrow to the conference delegation.

    Jaelea will share the knowledge and expertise of the Mindframe National Media Initiative (Mindframe), which is the Australian approach to supporting the media via a comprehensive dissemination of training, education and resources.

    Mindframe, which is managed by the Hunter Institute, aims to promote responsible and accurate portrayals of suicide and mental illness.

    Jaelea had until recently led the development of the education and training component of Mindframe, which is funded by the Australian Government and steered by a media advisory group.

    “Mindframe’s approach has been to work closely with the media industry, providing face-to-face training, resources and ensuring Mindframe is accessible to Australian journalists to support them with difficult stories,” said Jaelea.

    There has been two key reports into of the Australian media coverage been 2001 and 2007, which has shown the quality of media reporting against the Mindframe principles has increased from 57% to 75% and the number of stories doubled*

     “The fact we’ve seen the media in Australia voluntarily introduce Mindframe into their own industry codes, demonstrates that this approach works. A media informed about the guidelines can make informed editorial decisions with regards to the likely impact on their audiences,” she said.

    Mindframe also provides curriculum resources for journalism education at universities, as well as tailored information to the mental health, suicide prevention, police and entertainment sectors.

    “It’s also important that people involved in mental health and suicide prevention are across the guidelines as they are a key source of information for media professionals reporting on these issues,” added Jaelea, who is a psychologist and sits on The WHO’s International Taskforce for Suicide and the Media.

    The New Zealand workshop, called “Working with the Media: A Mindframe workshop for the mental health and suicide prevention sector”, is aimed at the health sector and will cover:

    • The evidence related to media reporting of suicide
    • An introduction to how the media works and effective ways of engaging the media
    • Considerations for developing key messages that are safe and effective.

    More information about Mindframe can be found at www.mindframe-media.info, or follow the team on Twitter via @MindframeMedia


    *Media Monitoring Reports http://www.mindframe-media.info/for-media/reporting-suicide/evidence-and-research

  • The people's choice for People's Palace youth rock band

    Monday, 9 September 2013

    The heat took place at the Loft Youth Arts and Cultural Centre with 101 audience members in attendance. Competing alongside the finalists were acts such as pop-punk outfits, Forever And A Day and Dress to Riot, and rock acts eleven eleven, The Dalliants and Catching Alice.

    Community Development Officer for Newcastle headspace Byron Williams (from hip-hop act, The Herd)
    compered the event along with three local music industry judges from Musos Corner and White’s Records.

    The six polished acts were judged according to their musicianship, stage presence, originality, professionalism, audience response and festival worthiness.

    YRBD is an annual music competition designed to raise awareness of mental health issues among young people in the Hunter and surrounding areas.  As well as being a platform for emerging music artists, the competition encourages young people to get thinking and talking about mental health issues with friends, family and networks and aims to promote the range of local and national services available to support young people.

    Heat two will take place on Wednesday, 11 September, at the Loft Youth Arts and Cultural Centre in Wolfe Street, Newcastle.

    The six acts to compete are from a range of indie and alternative rock genres and include, Spencer Scott, Ripple Effect, Sons of Alamo, QnRoo, James Osborn and Youth Avenue.  Doors open at 6.30pm. Entry is a gold coin donation.

    People's Palace

  • Dont miss the seventh Land online forum!

    Thursday, 5 September 2013

    Supported by the Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health and the Rural Adversity Mental Health Program, The seventh Land online forum will take place tomorrow, Friday 6th September from 2-3pm.

    The theme for September's forum will be alchohol and other drugs, where experts will focus on general alcohol and drug information, how to talk to someone you are concerned about and how alcohol and other drugs relate to mental health.

    For more information, please download the flyer below:

    Land online forum 

     

  • Wear it Purple Day

    Friday, 30 August 2013

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health turns purple today

     

    The Hunter Institute recognises the importance of awareness days like "Wear It Purple Day" that are working towards a world in which every young person can thrive; irrelevant of sexuality or gender identity. It is important to the mental health and wellbeing of all young people that they are supported, connected and provided with opportunities to set goals and achieve them.

    Mental health is a positive concept relating to social and emotional wellbeing.  It is about being able to cope with the day-to-day stresses of life, forming and maintaining relationships, feeling empowered, getting involved and being able to manage emotions. 

    Discrimination and being made to feel 'different' because of sexual or gender identity can make it difficult for people of any age to have a sense of wellbeing. It also makes it more difficult to ask for help when problems come up.

    Today the Institute staff will show their support for all young people by turning the office purple. 

    In conjunction with Wear It Purple Day, the Director of the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, Jaelea Skehan, said “it is important as a national leader in mental health that we stand up and say that isolating and discriminating against any person based on their sexual orientation or gender identity cannot be tolerated”. 

    “The Hunter Institute of Mental Health is committed to ensuring that our work with individuals and communities is inclusive of people that identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender or Intersex (LGBTI)”. 

    “We are excited today to also announce that we have been invited by the National LGBTI Health Alliance to participate in the pilot of the LGBTI Champions Project as an organisation that is interested in proactively demonstrating the inclusion of LGBTI people within their programs,” she explained.

    The LGBTI Champion Pilot is an important of the nationally funded MindOUT! project.  As part of the project, LGBTI Champions are identified to assist the organisation to optimise its service delivery to LGBTI people by ensuring that the service is responsive, inclusive and safe.

    Meet our Champions:

    Alex Culloden

    Alex has a background in psychology and has always had a strong passion for social justice issues particularly in the areas of mental health and suicide prevention.  She became involved in the project as she feels passionately about addressing the current levels of mental illness and suicide in the LGBTI community.

    “I do not think it is acceptable that someone’s sexuality or gender identity should impact their access to services or level of engagement in programs and projects. I feel lucky to work in an organisation which not only recognises these health disparities but looks at proactive ways to address these ensure the success and longevity of the project.”

    Tania Ewin

    Tania is a social worker by background and forms part of the Family and Workplaces team at the Institute.  She is excited to be involved in the Champions project and considers it an experience of a lifetime to engage in the process of addressing ways the sector can better support of LGBTI members within our community.

    “This is a chance to look at existing policies and structural barriers that may affect people who identify as LGBTI and it gives us the chance to make sure that as an organisation we are inclusive and supportive from our project delivery through to our philosophical underpinnings.”  

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health are very excited to be a part of this important project.

    For more information please visit www.lgbthealth.org.au/

  • Partners in Depression wins Partnership Award

    Wednesday, 21 August 2013

    Today, the Hunter Institute of Mental Health was awarded a Special Judges Partnership Practices Award for their Partners in Depression program.  The award was presented to Director Jaelea Skehan by the Minister for Mental Health and Ageing Jacinta Collins and National Mental Health Commissioner Alan Fels, at the opening of the Australian and New Zealand Mental Health Services Conference in Melbourne this morning.


    In receiving the award Ms Skehan said, “Working in partnerships is a value that the Hunter Institute of Mental Health put into practice every day with our national and local promotion and prevention programs.”

    “We believe that promotion and prevention programs work best when they are designed and delivered in partnership,” she explained.


    For more information about the Partners in Depression program, visit http://www.partnersindepression.com.au/ or download the media release.

  • Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog ties with music festival giant

    Friday, 2 August 2013

    Fat As Butter music festival has offered first prize winners of this year’s Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog (YRBD) a spot on their festival line-up.

    To coincide with the offer, the YRBD entry deadline has been extended one week, until Friday 9 August.

    With the onset of mental illness occurring most commonly in adolescence, YRBD is calling for more aspiring young musicians aged 12 to 24 who live in Cessnock, Dungog, Gloucester, Gosford, Great Lakes, Greater Taree, Lake Macquarie, Maitland, Merriwa, Murrurundi, Muswellbrook, Newcastle, Port Stephens, Scone, Singleton and Wyong to get involved in the event.

    As well as being a platform for emerging artists, the competition encourages young people to think and talk about mental health issues and aims to promote local and national services available to them. 

    Jaelea Skehan, Director of the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, said the band competition was one of the Institute’s key ways to increase awareness with the younger demographic.

    “These events allow young people to explore mental health issues through creative mediums they are already interested in and engaged with,” she said.

    The competition will be staged across three live heats throughout September, with the Grand Final event to be held at Lizotte’s on 9 October, during NSW mental health month.

    More information can be found at www.himh.org.au/YRBD or www.facebook.com/YRBDbandcomp. For an entry kit, contact Kim McNaughton on (02) 4924 6900 or Kim.McNaughton@hnehealth.nsw.gov.au

     

  • Partners in Depression Program Finalist for Achievement Award

    Thursday, 25 July 2013

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health are pleased to announce that the Partners in Depression program has been selected as a finalist in the 2013 Australian and New Zealand Mental Health Service Achievement Awards. The program will receive either a gold, silver or special judges award in the Mental Illness Prevention Program category.  The awards ceremony will be held in Melbourne at TheMHS Conference on Wednesday 21 August 2013. 

    This is a fantastic achievement and we would like to share this recognition with Partners in Depression program facilitators. Thank you for your ongoing support and for your commitment to improving the mental health and wellbeing of those who love, care for and support people living with depression across Australia.

    For more information about the achievement awards, visit http://www.themhs.org.au/achievement-awards

  • Youth Rockin' the Black Dog music comp shown on NBN

    Thursday, 25 July 2013

    Jaelea Skehan, Hunter Institute of Mental Health Director, and Byron Williams, headspace and The Herd band member, met with NBN recently to promote the Youth Rockin' the Black Dog (YRBD) music competition.

    YRBD is an annual music competition designed to raise awareness of mental health issues among young people in the Hunter and surrounding areas. 

    As well as being a platform for emerging music artists, the competition encourages young people to get thinking and talking about mental health issues with friends, family and networks, and aims to promote the range of local and national services available to support young people.

    To view the NBN interview footage, visit http://www.nbnnews.com.au/index.php?s=youth+rockin.

  • Dungog High take first place at the MindPlay Grand Final

    Monday, 24 June 2013

    Dungog High School is the winner of this year’s annual school’s drama competition, MindPlay.

    Year 11 students from Dungog delivered an engaging performance on social anxiety disorder to impress the MindPlay Grand Final judges on Saturday night.

    Second place winners were Warners Bay High School presenting on the topic of Bipolar. Gosford High took out the Tantrum Theatre prize for ‘best theatrical technique’. Third place went to Lambton High School with their piece on schizophrenia.

    All the schools involved in MidPlay have been magnificent and everyone should be very proud of themselves.

    Can't wait for 2014!

     

    Dungog High School

    Photographed above, Dungog High School with their play Playception.

  • New partnership will lead to better support for people who have attempted suicide and their families.

    Friday, 21 June 2013

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health has been contracted by beyondblue: the national depression initiative to work with them to develop resources for people who have attempted suicide and their close family and friends.

    It is conservatively estimated that some 65,000 Australians attempt suicide each year.  These individuals experience a range of distress following the event and are at much higher risk of a further attempt or death by suicide. 

    Director of the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, Jaelea Skehan, said: "We know that people who have attempted suicide are at increased risk of dying by suicide.  Despite this, we have limited Australian-based information that is available to the person or their support network."

    "When someone presents to hospital or a service following a suicide attempt it can be very stressful for the healthcare provider, the person and the person's family and friends.  It also, however, provides an opportunity to disseminate valuable information that can support routine clinical care."

    The project team at the Hunter Institute of Mental Health will work with beyondblue, healthcare providers and professional bodies, suicide prevention experts and people with lived experience to  develop a suite of evidence-informed resources that can be made available at the point of contact with the health service. 

    The project team is currently conducting a review of the evidence and a national policy scan to inform the resource content and will undertake structured consultations with experts such as academics, service providers and community members who have attempted suicide and their family, friends and carers throughout July and August.

    The resources will be available by the end of the year and will include specific versions for Aboriginal people who have attempted suicide and their family, friends and carers.  

    A copy of the project brief is available to download

  • Last chance to get MindPlay tickets

    Tuesday, 18 June 2013

    Last chance to get your MindPlay tickets!

    Tickets available via Hunter Theatre's website Click here

    MindPlay is an exciting annual drama competition for Year 11 students in the Hunter and surrounding regions, providing an accessible means for young people to explore mental health issues and win cash prizes for their school.

    The Grand Final is on this Saturday, 22 June at 7.30pm at Hunter Theatre!

    This year the Grand Finalists are - (in no particular order) 

    • Hunter School of Performing Arts
    • Lambton High School
    • Gosford High School
    • Dungog High School
    • Warners Bay High School
    • Toronto High School


    Each of these schools will unite in Newcastle to showcase a 15-minute dramatic work exploring a mental health theme.  

    Hope to see you there !

    Buy tickets online: http://www.hspa.nsw.edu.au/

  • Let's talk about men's mental health

    Wednesday, 5 June 2013

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health would like to draw attention to an upcoming forum run by one of our partners, the Centre for Rural & Remote Mental Health.  On Friday 7 June 2013 from 2pm-3pm, The Land's website will run a live online forum on 'Men's Mental Health'.

    The forum will be an informative session, not only for men but for women also who have a man in their life, whether it be a family member, friend or partner.

    Go to www.theland.com.au and follow the "Let's talk about Mental Health" link before the forum to participate live on the day.

    For more information, view the poster.

     

  • MindPlay finalists announced

    Monday, 3 June 2013

    3 June 2013

    Only six finalists could be chosen, and the judges had their work cut out for them after the presentation of some well crafted pieces.

    The finalists are (in no particular order):

    • Hunter School of Performing Arts
    • Gloucester High School (Group 2)
    • Gosford High School
    • Dungog High School
    • Warners Bay High School
    • Toronto High School

    It was clear that every school auditioning had put in a lot of time and effort and the panel were impressed by the enthusiasm and commitment of everyone who performed on the day.

    Congratulations to our finalists, and to those who didn't get through this year, we hope we will see you again next year.

     

    HSPA

  • National Launch: Supporting Those Who Care

    Friday, 31 May 2013

    PiDLaunch3The Hunter Institute of Mental Health launched their national evaluation report ‘Supporting Those Who Care: Partners in Depression National Program Outcomes’ at the Wheeler Centre in Melbourne, on Tuesday 28 May 2013.

    A follow-up local launch was also held in Newcastle on Thursday 30 May, to recognise the important Hunter-based partnerships that led to the program.

    You can access the report (and other reports released on the day) at http://www.partnersindepression.com.au/evaluation

    Many people who love, live with or support someone experiencing depression do not identify themselves traditionally as ‘carers’ making them invisible to governments and communities.

    2.6 million Australians or 12% of the population is the official number of carers. A large portion of these individuals face the challenge of maintaining their own physical and mental health in very challenging circumstances.

    PiDLaunch1Director of the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, Jaelea Skehan, says that the people who are caring for or supporting a loved one are often just an afterthought for mental health programs, despite being a recognised group with a higher risk of developing mental illnesses.

    “More than 70 per cent of people who care for someone with depression recorded high levels of psychological distress upon entering the Partners in Depression program, indicating an immediate risk to their mental health and wellbeing.”

    Ms Skehan said that the Partners in Depression program was especially developed for these individuals, to provide them with the necessary information and tools to build individual and family resilience, and manage the impacts of the caring role on their own mental and physical wellbeing.

    PiDLaunchPartners in Depression Patron, Lucy Brogden, says her own experience taught her the value and need for an evidence-based intervention program that supports carers in their own communities.

    “I only wish such a program existed when I was experiencing difficulties coping with my caring responsibilities - this program would have made my journey much easier,” said Ms Brogden.

    The Partners in Depression program had been established with funding from the nib foundation and beyondblue: the national depression initiative. “Supporting Those Who Care” unequivocally position Partners in Depression as a successful model of support for people who care for someone with depression.

    The report found that:

    • Partners in Depression has reached more than 1,600 carers to date;
    • More than 70% of people who live with or care for someone with depression that we encountered through Partners in Depression reported high to very high levels of psychological distress;
    • Participants reported significant reduction in psychological stress at program completion; 
    • More than 80% of participants reported improvements in their relationships; 
    • 93% indicated that they had applied program information at the 6-month follow-up; 
    • 160 trainers facilitated access to more than 1,600 carers; 
    • To improve access to the Partners in Depression program across Australia the workforce needs to be expanded to 350 accredited trainers.

    PiDLaunch6

    The reports are available online at http://www.partnersindepression.com.au/evaluation


    To watch video testimonials from participants visit http://www.partnersindepression.com.au/testimonials

    PiDLaunch4PiDLaunch2

  • MindPlay 2013 tickets on sale now !

    Tuesday, 21 May 2013

    Purchase your tickets to the MindPlay 2013 Grand Final.

    Purchase here. 

    MindPlay Grand Final 2013

    22 June 2013

    Hunter Theatre, Cameron Street, Broadmeadow.

    Please note the event will start at 7:30pm sharp.

  • Hunter Institute of Mental Health Partners in Depression Report Launch

    Tuesday, 21 May 2013

    Hunter Institute of Mental Health
    Partners in Depression Report Launch


    Partners in Depression is a cost-effective, evidence based education and support program for those who love, live with or support a person experiencing depression.

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health is launching the ‘Supporting those who care: Partners in Depression national program outcomes’ report at the Wheeler Centre in Melbourne, on 28 May 2013.

    The report draws attention to the potential risk of poor mental health and wellbeing amongst the 2.6 million Australians who care for someone with a mental illness. A large proportion of the people who love, live with or care for someone with depression face the challenge of maintaining their own physical and mental health.

    The report demonstrates the value of the Partners in Depression program, and the need for evidence-based interventions that focus on looking after the mental health and wellbeing of carers. Partners in Depression is the only evidence-based group education program that provides cost-effective tools and resources for people who care for someone with depression, helping them to develop coping strategies and self-care abilities.

    Without the Partners in Depression program carers would not have access to the necessary information and skills to build individual and family resilience, and manage the impacts on their own mental and physical health. 
     
    If you would like more information please email us at pid@hnehealth.nsw.gov.au or visit our website www.partnersindepression.com.au

  • ‘Youth Rockin’ The Black Dog’ winners launch their first EP

    Thursday, 16 May 2013

    Riley and Donna Promo

    Folk duo… (L-R) Donna Arendse and Riley Warren performing at last year’s YRBD grand final. 

    Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog 2012 winners ‘Riley and Donna’ are set to launch their EP at The Cambridge Hotel in Newcastle West on 18th May. Copies of the new EP will be given out to all attendees.

    Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog is an annual music competition managed by the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, with the 2012 event planned in partnership with the Black Dog Institute and headspace Hunter.

    As well as being a platform for emerging artists, the competition encourages young people to get thinking and talking about mental health issues with friends, family and networks and aims to promote local and national support services that are available to them.

    The band’s guitarist Riley Warren said: “The competition got me thinking more about mental health and how much it affects young ones, that mental illness can happen to anyone, and that support services are available.”

    Jaelea Skehan, (A) Director of the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, said: “The band competition is one of the Institute’s two community projects, promoting awareness of mental health issues and help-seeking information for young people in the Hunter and surrounding areas.”

    The 2013 Coordinator, Kim McNaughton, said: “I’m looking forward to seeing what this year’s competition brings with the heats held in September and the Grand Final in October.”

    For updates on the YRBD band competition, visit www.himh.org.au/YRBD or ‘like’ the Facebook page www.facebook.com/YRBDbandcomp.

    Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog 2013 will be launched at the Grand Final of Mindplay, the Institute’s annual schools mental health drama competition, on June 22nd.

    Young people can find out more about mental health issues by visiting www.headspace.org.au, www.blackdoginstitute.org.au, or www.reachout.com.

    For media enquiries, contact (02) 4924 6900 or email Kim.McNaughton@hnehealth.nsw.gov.au 

  • Schizophrenia Awareness Week and the media's crucial role

    Tuesday, 14 May 2013

    The media has a powerful role during Schizophrenia Awareness Week (12-18 May) in breaking down myths and misunderstanding about the mental illness in the community.


    Research tells us that community understanding has been linked to the way schizophrenia is reported and portrayed in news and entertainment media.

     
    The Australian media has come a long way in de-stigmatising illnesses such as depression, but more needs to be done to break down public perceptions of schizophrenia and other forms of psychosis.


    A recent study examining the portrayal of schizophrenia in the Australian print and online news media found that over a 12 month period, violence featured in 47.3% of all stories related to schizophrenia, with 27.9% of these stories detailing acts of homicide.

     
    This level of reporting comes in spite of studies which suggest people with schizophrenia are almost three times more likely to be victims of violence than members of the general population. The annual risk of homicide among individuals with a psychotic illness (such as schizophrenia) is only one in 8000.


    Mindframe, managed by the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, aims to encourage responsible, accurate and sensitive representation of mental illness and suicide in the Australian mass media. Through responsible and accurate representation in the news and entertainment media, public perceptions of people living with schizophrenia can begin to change.


    Positive news stories may also balance and correct existing beliefs and perceptions and provide opportunities for community discussion.


    For further information about media reporting of mental illness, click here
    For further information about schizophrenia please visit the SANE website or Schizophrenia Fellowship NSW

  • *NEW* Outcomes from the Young People, Social Media and Suicide Prevention Roundtable

    Friday, 10 May 2013

    Outcomes from the Young People, Social Media and Suicide Prevention Roundtable

     

    Jaelea photo at YAW, Social Media Roundtable 

    Click on the photograph to view a video of the event.

     

    What are the risks, challenges and opportunities presented by social media to promoting mental health and suicide in young people? Here we present the outcomes from the Roundtable on Young People, Social Media and Suicide Prevention held on 27 February, 2013.

     

    On 27 February 2013, more than 50 representatives from Australia’s leading youth, mental health, media and technology providers came together in Melbourne to tackle the risks, challenges and opportunities presented by social media to promote mental health and suicide prevention in young people.

    Find out more about how social media can play a role in suicide prevention by watching this video report-back from the roundtable event.

    “This issue is one that countries all over the world are grappling with. In many ways, Australia may be best placed to lead collaborative action," said Jaelea Skehan, Director, Hunter Institute of Mental Health.

    The five-hour roundtable discussion was hosted by the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre and the Mindframe National Media Initiative (managed by the Hunter Institute of Mental Health). The event was facilitated by National Mental Health Commissioner, Sam Mostyn.

    The roundtable was the start of a process to define and agree on a collaborative approach to minimise the risks and enhance the benefits that social media may provide to young people in distress.

    “This is a big challenge and we can't address it alone. Technology (including social media) is no longer just important to young people but a core and fundamental part of who they are and how they connect." said Associate Professor Jane Burns, CEO, Young and Well CRC.

    “Any consideration for how we engage young people in suicide prevention must consider how this can be done effectively and safely in the online environment," added Assoc Prof Burns.

     

    Issues explored and actions needed

    The day brought forward a solutions-focused discussion to identify both the benefits and risks of engaging with young people through social media, and the role that the mental health sector, technology partners, the media, researchers, other stakeholders and young people themselves can play.

     

    “This is about creating new partnerships and building trusting relationships,” said Sam Mostyn, Commissioner, National Mental Health Commission.


    “Don’t forget the lived experience of young people in this conversation,” said one of the young attendees.

    The roundtable discussions identified five key issues relating to young people, social media and suicide prevention to be addressed:

    1. The research is having trouble keeping up with the technology;
    2. Guidelines for safe and effective online engagement are needed;
    3. Young people need to be empowered online;
    4. Postvention activity online requires immediate action;
    5. Innovation and collaboration are keys to success.

     Issue 1: The research is having trouble keeping up with the technology

    Given the lack of research evidence, many in the youth, health and mental health sectors feel ill-equipped to provide advice, set new policy direction, or intervene in social media activity. Research in other areas (e.g. traditional media) may not apply in the social media space.

    Without a focus on building the evidence, interactions continue and new approaches are trialled or implemented without knowing the relative benefits or harms of each approach.

    Actions

    • Set a flexible and responsive research agenda to build evidence around the role of social media in suicide prevention. This requires collaboration between researchers, practitioners and communities, and advocating for funding that can be mobilised quickly.

     Issue 2: Guidelines for safe and effective online engagement are needed

    At the roundtable, cross–sector approaches to engagement online were variable. While some organisations and individuals were risk-averse and avoided direct engagement, others were more proactive. Some may be unaware of their duty-of-care online.

    Sectors that communicate and engage with young people online would benefit from a set of consistent best-practice guidelines. These guidelines should be updated as the evidence develops.

    Sectors identified included: clinical service providers, communication teams for mental health organisations, education departments and schools, the media, and other online influencers.

    Specific issues identified included: moderation of closed and open online forums; safe and effective promotional materials and engagement; duty of care for individuals and services; the interface between social media and other sectors and services; and the global nature of the online environment.

    Actions

    • Develop best-practice guidelines for clinical and service engagement in online spaces.
    • Develop best-practice principles for online moderation.
    • Enhance Mindframe guidelines to include social media considerations for:
      • Media professionals;
      • Communication staff in health organisations (CLICK HERE for the outcomes report from the post-roundtable meeting of communications managers by Mindframe);
      • Online influencers such as bloggers.

     Issue 3: Young people need to be empowered online

    Sectors need to ensure that the views and experiences of young people are valued and utilised.

    Young people may be the most valuable resource for other young people online. Young people need access to resources and supports that are appropriate, responsive, engaging and targeted to their needs.

    Young people need to understand how to interact with peers who may be expressing distress online and ways that they can support and assist that person while maintaining boundaries for their own health and wellbeing.

    Young people may also be champions for spreading messages about mental health and wellbeing through social media.

    Services need to learn to engage and be accessible to young people online without their client needing to change platform or device.

    People who support young people (such as parents and teachers) may need practical information that can support a young person who is interacting with a distressed peer.

    Actions:

    • Develop tools and supports that young people can use to navigate their peer-to-peer interactions online. These should include how to handle conversations, where to go for assistance, and how to self-care;
    • Develop resources for parents and communities so that they can be empowered to support young people online;
    • Develop service models that engage young people directly, without needing to change platform to seek help.

     Issue 4: Postvention activity online requires immediate action

    Many sectors and groups, including the suicide prevention sector, schools, workplaces and families are particularly concerned about postvention conversations and activities online.

    These concerns include memorial pages for people who have died, un-moderated discussions, image sharing, and public conversations about a death.

    The lack of research evidence to guide interactions means many experts in the field have been reluctant to provide advice.

    The youth and mental health sectors determined that this needed immediate investigation and action.

    Actions:

    • Work with researchers to better understand the value and risks of postvention content for family, peers and networks;
    • Work with technology providers to better understand existing and future possible responses to postvention content online;
    • Work with postvention experts, emergency services and technology providers to develop cross-sector principles for managing memorials and other postvention content;
    • Work with departments of education and school-based mental health and suicide prevention programs to include practical advice on managing social media interactions following a death.

     Issue 5: Innovation and collaboration are keys to success

    Cross-sector collaboration and knowledge exchange are necessary to ensure the best use of resources, reduction of duplication, and the setting of collective priorities.

    The youth and mental health sectors must partner with technology providers to understand how best to engage young people, which platforms to use, and to discover innovations that can be enabled by technology.

    Given the global nature of the web, international partnerships could and should be considered to best manage the scale of online interactions across time of day and location.

    The mental health sector must develop an understanding of the technologies that young people feel comfortable with and adapt services to embrace them. Access limitations to online services across youth and mental health health service providers and poor understanding of the role of technology in young people's lives are barriers to innovative service models.

    Actions:

    • Develop a mechanism for collecting and sharing current practice and opportunities for collaboration;
    • Develop an action plan following the roundtable that outlines organisational leadership for components of work;
    • Share insights from technology providers (starting with what is already available) to guide approaches to service development;
    • Explore and map potential national and international partnerships to progress collaborative action;
    • Develop partnerships between researchers and innovators to build evidence for more effective online interventions.

    Stay connected

    National organisations will work together to progress the actions from this report and ensure sector leadership.

    In the interim, stay in touch with the progress being made with these outcomes by subscribing to the Young and Well Network or by following the Hunter Institute of Mental Health news page.

  • Mindframe participates in post-film forum at Human Rights Arts & Film Festival

    Thursday, 9 May 2013

    El Huaso Picture

    Human Rights Arts & Film Festival Documentary: El Hauso

     

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health’s (a) director Jaelea Skehan, on behalf of the Mindframe National Media Initiative, will be speaking with Professor Patrick McGorry AO at a panel event in Melbourne on 21st May on the silence around issues of mental health that can exist in families, societal taboos around suicide and the value of sharing personal experiences on screen.

    As part of the Human Rights Arts & Film Festival, the discussion will follow the Australian premiere of El Hauso, a powerful documentary by Chilean/Canadian filmmaker Carlo Guillermo Proto which depicts his family in crisis.  The focus of the film is on Carlos' father Gustavo's torment over whether to take his own life when he discovers there's a possibility he may have early onset Alzheimer's.

    For more information on the panel event or film, which premieres at 6:15pm on 21 May at ACMI Cinemas in Melbourne, please visit http://hraff.org.au/film/el-huaso.

    For more information on Mindframe Stage and Screen, please click here  or contact the Mindframe project team at mindframe@hnehealth.nsw.gov.au or (02)4924 6904.

  • In Tribute

    Thursday, 2 May 2013

    Tony Tamplin

    Tony Tamplin: appearing as "himself" in the fictional Mindframe for Journalism and Public Relations Education video case study, which is used in Australian university curriculums for responsible portrayals of suicide and mental illness.

    Today the Newcastle community and the NSW Police have farewelled much loved police officer Tony Tamplin, who died earlier this week.

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health would like to pass on our sincere condolences to the family, colleagues and friends of Tony Tamplin.  He has left a lasting imprint on the local community and touched many lives for the better.

    Apart from being the longest serving local police officer, Tony was a man of generous spirit and good humour.  He supported a number of initiatives at the Hunter Institute of Mental Health over the years.  Among other things, he played himself in a video case study for the Mindframe program that is still being used in the undergraduate curriculum for journalism and public relations across Australia.

    The face of police media in the Hunter will be missed by our organisation and many others.

  • Early investment pays off in mental health

    Wednesday, 17 April 2013

    StonesIn mental health, we are often trying to find answers to things we don't know.  But there are some things we do know.

    We know that a healthy start to life is important for a child's health and wellbeing and their health and wellbeing into adult life.  We know that a focus on the determinants of health and mental health can foster safer and healthier families and communities.  We also know that the significant and growing burden of mental ill-health cannot be stemmed by treating illness alone.

    Acting Director, Jaelea Skehan, took the recent release of the 2012 Australian Early Development Index (AEDI) by the Minister for Early Childhood, Peter Garrett, to pose the question "are we doing enough to improve the social and emotional wellbeing of children"?

    An opinion piece appeared in the Newcastle Herald today (17 April) http://www.theherald.com.au/story/1435896/opinion-early-investment-pays-off-in-mental-health/?cs=308

    For the last 15 of its 21 years at the Hunter Institute of Mental Health has been working locally and nationally to improve mental health outcomes for children and young people.  Link to relevant programs are available here:

  • Are we doing enough for the social and emotional wellbeing of children and young people?

    Friday, 5 April 2013

    On Thursday 4 April 2013, the Minister for Early Childhood, Peter Garrett, released the 2012 Australian Early Development Index (AEDI) data collected on 289,973 children in their first year of formal full-time school.
    The AEDI measures childhood development across five domains: physical health and wellbeing, social competence, emotional maturity, language and cognitive skills, and communication skills and general knowledge. For more information about the latest data, visit the website http://www.rch.org.au/aedi/.

    The latest AEDI data set suggests that there is a lower proportion of children who are developmentally vulnerable across the five development domains compared to the 2009 data. Physical health and wellbeing is the only development domain that remains consistent with 2009 data.

    “While this is a positive outcome for Australia’s children, families, communities and governments, more should be done to strengthen the social and emotional wellbeing of children and young people” said Jaelea Skehan, Acting Director, Hunter Institute of Mental Health.

    “Too often we focus our national attention on treating ill-health, including mental ill-health, rather than focussing on building wellbeing and resilience.  We know that a healthy start to life is important for health and wellbeing in later life” said Ms Skehan.

    “The Hunter Institute of Mental Health has a 15 year history of working locally and nationally to improve mental health outcomes for all children and young people. But, at times it can be difficult to get funding commitment to longer-term mental health promotion programs, where the benefits are perhaps not seen for years.”
    Current programs at the Hunter Institute of Mental Health focusing on the social and emotional wellbeing of children and young people, includes:

    Boat-at-preschool-picture

  • Mindframe Communication Managers Group dinner and annual meeting

    Tuesday, 2 April 2013

    Staff from the Hunter Institute of Mental Health’s Mindframe National Media Initiative will be hosting a dinner event on Wednesday 3rd April, with guest speakers to include Dr Michelle Blanchard, Head of Projects and Partnerships for the Young and Well CRC, our own Acting Director Jaelea Skehan, and a brief address by NSW Mental Health Commissioner John Feneley.

    Communication professionals from Australia’s key organisations in the mental health and suicide prevention sectors, local media and Hunter New England executives will be in attendance.

    The theme of the event is social media use within the mental health and suicide prevention sectors. The discussion will follow on from a national young people, social media and suicide prevention roundtable that was held in February 2013 and hosted by Mindframe and the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre. For more details, please visit http://www.mindframe-media.info/home/news/news/2013/young-people,-social-media-and-suicide-prevention-roundtable

    The annual Communication Managers' Group meeting will also be held in Newcastle the next day, with the focus on social media, duty of care, capacity building and how Mindframe can best support the mental health and suicide prevention sectors.

    For more information regarding Mindframe's work with the mental health and suicide prevention sectors, please click here.

  • Mindframe National Media Initiative and LGBTI National Health Alliance media training

    Thursday, 28 March 2013

    Last Friday, 22nd March, the Mindframe National Media Initiative, which is managed by the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, along with the LGBTI National Health Alliance’s MindOUT! held a training session for representatives from Australia’s leading lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and other sexuality (LGBTI) media.

    The Mindframe and MindOUT! partnership event allowed this media group the opportunity to voice their opinions on possible opportunities and challenges around positive and safe portrayals of mental illness and suicide in the LGBTI community.

    Mindframe Program Manager Marc Bryant said, “The day was a huge success and Mindframe is grateful to Barry Taylor from MindOUT! in organising and facilitating this event.

    “The LGBTI media were highly engaged on the issues raised and provided invaluable feedback to contribute to future Mindframe strategies.

    Mindframe will continue to work closely with MindOUT! and the LGBTI media over the next 12 months to strengthen our engagement and resources. The view the media release, which includes a snapshot of feedback from the day, please click here.

     

    LGBTI media training

     

  • Young people, social media and suicide prevention roundtable

    Thursday, 28 February 2013

    Yesterday, Wednesday 27 February 2013, more than 50 representatives from Australia’s leading youth, mental health, media and technology providers came together in Melbourne to tackle the risks, challenges and opportunities presented by social media to promote mental health and suicide prevention in young people.


    The five-hour roundtable discussion, hosted by the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre and the Mindframe National Media Initiative (which is managed by the Hunter Institute of Mental Health) – and facilitated by National Mental Health Commissioner Sam Mostyn – is the start of a process to define and agree a collaborative approach to minimise the risks and enhance the benefits that social media may provide to young people in distress.

    social media round table event


    Associate Professor Jane Burns, CEO of the Young and Well CRC, said:

    “Social media has become a powerful tool for young people to connect and engage with each other,
    but at the same time we know it presents an ongoing challenge for services, mental health
    providers and young people themselves when managing its risks – and particularly those who are
    most at-risk. We have a unique opportunity through the roundtable to really tackle these.”


    Jaelea Skehan, Acting Director of Hunter Institute of Mental Health, said:

    “We’re encouraged by the strong interest shown by stakeholders in this event, and excited about the anticipated outcomes of the discussion. The sector is committed to finding a solution to this issue, and acknowledges that this can only be achieved through a united approach.”


    This event follows an online consultation with young people held in December last year, to capture their views on the role that social media plays in relation to suicide. A group of young people who took part in this consultation will also attend the roundtable and share key insights from the discussion.

    To view the 'mental health and technology leaders meet on social media and suicide prevention' media release (PDF) please click here


    In conjunction with the event, Acting Director of the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, Jaelea Skehan and CEO of the Young and Well CRC, Jane Burns contributed an article to Croakey (the Crikey health blog).  To access the article, click on the link below.

     

    http://blogs.crikey.com.au/croakey/2013/02/27/social-media-suicide-prevention-and-young-people-time-for-collaborative-action/

     

  • National Screenwriters Conference 2013

    Thursday, 21 February 2013

    Jaelea Skehan, Marc Bryant and Kim McNaughton are currently attending the National Screenwriters Conference in Victoria. The Hunter Institute of Mental Health has had a 6-year partnership with the Australian Writers Guild and SANE Australia to engage with screenwriters around the portrayal of mental illness and suicide as part of the Mindframe National Media Initiative.

    Mindframe Stage and Screen is a Gold sponsor for the conference and staff of the Hunter Institute will participate in a workshop on character development as part of the conference.

    "We have had great support from Australian screenwriters in the past six years. We have had the great fortune of being able to work with some of the best scriptwriters in Australia to develop the Mindframe Stage and Screen program" said Acting Director Jaelea Skehan

    "The conference is a great opportunity to talk to both established and emerging screenwriters and to promote the resources we have available".

    More information about the conference is available here http://www.awg.com.au/nsc/sponsors/

     

    National Screenwriters Conference

    Mindframe Stage and Screen exhibition display at the National Screenwriters Conference 2013

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • Partners in Depression delivers Facilitator training to Interrelate staff

    Thursday, 21 February 2013

    Interrelate training

    The Partners in Depression Project Team recently delivered Facilitator training to 16 staff members of Interrelate. Interrelate is a community based, not-for-profit organisation with a network of centres across metropolitan, regional and rural New South Wales. Each year, Interrelate provides services to over 50,000 individuals, couples and children with the aim of strengthening and supporting family relationships. For more information please visit: www.interrelate.org.au

    The Partners in Depression Project Team wish to warmly welcome Interrelate to the growing network of Facilitators dedicated to promoting positive mental health and preventing mental ill health in people who love, care for or live with a person experiencing depression. For more information on Partners in Depression please visit www.partnersindepression.com.au

    Contact: Partners in Depression Project Team

    Tel: 02 4924 6870 or Email: pid@hnehealth.nsw.gov.au

     

  • Children's Mental Health and Wellbeing: Exploring Competencies for the Early Childhood Education and Care Workforce

    Friday, 15 February 2013

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health and Community Services & Health Industry Skills Council have recently completed a report for the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) which provides a comprehensive analysis of the extent to which mental health and wellbeing competencies are addressed in early childhood vocational education and tertiary qualifications, and other professional development, and considers ways in which these can be sustainably embedded in training and education, through both the Vocational Education and Training (VET) and Higher Education (HE) sectors.

    For more information or to access the report please visit the Institute Early Childhood Workforce Competencies webpage (PDF) or the DEEWR Early Childhood Workforce Initiatives Webpage (PDF & DOC).

  • The Director's opinion

    Wednesday, 13 February 2013

    Featured in the Newcastle Herald on Wednesday 13 February 2013 is an opinion piece on suicide prevention Centres take lead on suicide prevention, written by Jaelea Skehan, Acting Director at the Hunter Institute of Mental Health.

    The article can be accessed from the link below.

    http://www.theherald.com.au/story/1293408/opinion-centres-take-lead-on-suicide-prevention/?cs=308

     

  • Launch of the NHMRC CRE in Mental Health and Substance Use

    Friday, 8 February 2013

    On Thursday 31 January 2013, the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Centre of Research Excellence in Mental Health and Substance Use, along with the NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in Suicide Prevention was launched by the Hon Tanya Plibersek, Australian Minister for Health and the Hon Mark Butler, Australian Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, Minister for Social Inclusion, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Mental Health Reform, at a ceremony at the University of New South Wales.

    Acting Director, Jaelea Skehan and Program Manager, Todd Heard from the Hunter Institute of Mental Health attended the launch and look forward to working as an associate partner on the CRE for Mental Health and Substance Use.

     

    NHMRC Launch

  • Partners in Depression in Mining

    Friday, 8 February 2013

    Partners in Depression is a six-week group education program for people who love, live with or care for someone experiencing depression. It focuses on developing knowledge about depression, its treatment and where and how to access services, and aims to improve the coping skills of those caring for someone with depression.

    Project Officer Elise Clark published a piece about the Partners in Depression project on the Mining Family Matters website.  To read the article, click on the link below

    http://www.miningfm.com.au/lifestyle/health-a-wellbeing.html

     

  • Supporting children & families during bushfires

    Thursday, 17 January 2013

    To download the article, please click on the link Tough Times Supporting Children & Families 

  • Community Recognition Notice

    Thursday, 20 December 2012

    On 22 November 2012, Parliament of New South Wales honoured the Hunter Institute of Mental Health with a "Community Recognition Notice" to acknowledge the vital role of the Institute and specifically for their work on the Child Illness and Resilience Program (CHiRP); and for securing funding for the project.

    The Institute is very pleased to receive this recognition and congratulate the Family and Carers team for their achievements so far and look forward to learning more about the program outcomes as it progresses.

  • New research project in mental health and mining

    Wednesday, 19 December 2012

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health has partnered with the University of Newcastle and the New South Wales Minerals Council to lead an important research project into the extent and impact of mental health problems in the Australian coal industry.

    NSW Minerals Council CEO Mr Stephen Galilee said the research would build on the important collaboration established with the Hunter Institute of Mental Health and the University this year.

    The Australian Coal Association Research Program (ACARP) awarded $350,000 to the University of Newcastle to Professor Brian Kelly and his team of researchers.

    “We estimate that mental health problems in the NSW coal mining industry cost up to $AU429 million in productivity losses each year”, Professor Kelly said.

    The project will involve open cut and underground mines in NSW and Queensland, and has two specific aims:

    • To identify the patterns of mental health problems among coal industry employees; the factors associated with these problems; and the impact on employees’ health, workplace safety and productivity.
    • To develop a mental health promotion, prevention and intervention model that examines the range of assistance currently available and develop strategies to promote wellbeing and prevent problems.

    The project will begin in January 2013 and run for 18 months.

  • Mindframe Panel Event at Journalism Education Association of Australia Conference, Melbourne: “The lived experience of mental illness in mass media”

    Monday, 26 November 2012

    Panel event in Melbourne: “The lived experience of mental illness in mass media”

    The Mindframe National Media Initiative, which is managed by the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, is hosting a Mindframe panel event held in conjunction with the annual Journalism Education Association of Australia (JEAA) Conference 2012. The theme for the panel will be “The lived experience of mental illness in mass media”.

    Event details:  Monday 3rd December 5:00-6:30pm main Conference Hall Monash University Law Chambers Marsh Building 555 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne

    Guest speakers include:

    • Jackie Crowe (Commissioner), National Mental Health Commission
    • Jill Stark (Journalist), The Sunday Age newspaper
    • James Freemantle, SANE Aus “Speaker”
    • Mia Lindgren (Journalism Educator), Monash University
    • Jaelea Skehan (Director), Hunter Institute of Mental Health

    A multi-sector panel will explore opportunities, challenges and ways forward for the "lived experience" of mental illness in the media, including media in the digital age. The session will comprise of short guest speaker presentations with Q & A discussion time, bringing together journalism educators from across Australia and key stakeholders in the media, mental health and suicide prevention sector.

    The event will also acknowledge 15 years of collaboration between the journalism education sector and the Mindframe National Media Initiative, with the launch of a new branded website platform for educators.

    The event is for invited guests and JEAA delegates, but for further information please contact Crystal Hatchard via  Crystal.Hatchard@hnehealth.nsw.gov.au.

    *The Mindframe program is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing under the National Suicide Prevention Program and managed by the Hunter Institute of Mental Health.

  • Foundations magazine Issue 11

    Monday, 26 November 2012

    The latest edition of Foundations magazine features articles on brain development and wellbeing, nurturing a child's developing mind, strategies to help children with autism and teaching brain development in the early years. Read this and previous issues of Foundations for free here. If you would like to share your ideas or are interested in contributing to Foundations magazine, please contact Georgia Davies at: himh@hnehealth.nsw.gov.au.
  • Family Relationships Services Australia (FRSA) National Conference - Darwin

    Tuesday, 20 November 2012

    The Partners in Depression project team represented the Hunter Institute or Mental Health at the 5th National FRSA Conference in Darwin on 12- 15 November 2012.

    This year over 500 delegates attended the conference from across the community and government sectors. Program Manager and National Coordinator for Partners in Depression, Todd Heard delivered a presentation which highlighted the achievements of Partners in Depression to date. The team were also kept busy running a popular trade display.


    The FRSA conference provided an excellent opportunity for the team to spread the word about  the Partners in Depression program and the team looks forward to working in partnership with this sector to improve the mental health and wellbeing of people who love, care for, or live with a person experiencing depression.

    PID Conference Trade Display

  • The Black Dog Institute’s National Writing Competition

    Tuesday, 6 November 2012

    Elise Clark and Todd Heard were invited to take part in The Black Dog Institute's award ceremony. Elise was acknowledged on the day as being one of the judges in the national writing competition for carers of people experiencing depression or bipolar disorder.

    For information on the National Writing Competition click here.

    For more information on caring for people with depression click here.

  • Family Relationships Service Australia National Conference - Darwin

    Tuesday, 6 November 2012

    The 5th national conference of Family Relationship Services Australia (FRSA), the national peak body for the family relationship services sector, will be held at the Darwin Convention Centre  on 13-15th November 2012, bringing together delegates from across the community sector, peak bodies, Australian Government departments, research and training institutes.

    The theme for our 2012 conference is ‘Positive Impact: Showcasing the Evidence’.

    The Partners in Depression Project Team will have a Trade Display and Todd Heard will be presenting Wednesday 14th November 1:00pm – 3:00pm. For any information about Partners in Depression, please see Elise Clark at the Trade Display during the conference.

  • Partners in Depression Facilitator Training

    Tuesday, 6 November 2012

    Limited training will be rolled out nationally in the New Year. We strongly encourage services who are interested to contact the Partners in Depression Project Team for more information.
  • The Seventh World Conference on the Promotion of Mental Health and Prevention of Mental and Behavioral Disorders

    Friday, 26 October 2012

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health had a strong presence with several managers and staff attending and presenting at The Seventh World Conference on the Promotion of Mental Health and Prevention of Mental and Behavioral Disorders, held at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre 17-19th October 2012.

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health also hosted a trade display to showcase some of the programs managed at the Institute, presented two full 90 minute symposiums and three other individual papers.  "It was a good opportunity to be at a conference with colleagues across all of the teams and everyone who presented did a really great job" said program manager, Jaelea Skehan.

    Presentations and conference material will be available on the Institute website shortly.

  • Director on leave

    Friday, 26 October 2012

    From the 5th November Institute Director, Trevor Hazell will be on leave from the Hunter Institute of Mental Health and will be undertaking a secondment to the University of Newcastle.

    Trevor has seen the Institute grow in size, capacity and achievement in his eight years as Director, and is looking forward to undertaking a new and interesting challenge in his new role at the Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health.

    During Trevor's leave, Program Manager  Jaelea Skehan will be the Acting Director.  Trevor has expressed great confidence that Jaelea "lead the Institute well" over the next 12 months.

  • Annual Suicide Prevention Conference, 11-12 October 2012

    Friday, 26 October 2012

    Marc Bryant and Jaelea Skehan attended the 2012 Annual Suicide Prevention Conference held at the Crown Plaza Coogee on 11th and 12th October 2012.  They hosted a trade display and presented three papers, outlining the Institute's current work in suicide prevention.  Click here to download the presentation slides.

  • Walk of Pride

    Friday, 26 October 2012

    Walk of Pride 2012The Director of the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, Trevor Hazell, attended the award winning Walk of Pride event in Newcastle on Saturday 13th October. The public awareness 'Walk of Pride' grew out of a need to 'Step out of Stigma' for many people with mental illness and their families. The  event promotes and encourages change, and offers hope to people who experience a mental illness and those who love and care for them.

    Trevor spoke at the event about his dog Sophie (who suffers from anxiety disorder) and together they were a hit with the crowd.

    Walk of Pride takes place annually. For more information contact: ARAFMI on 02 4961 6717

     

  • The Hunter Institute of Mental Health features in NBN News story - Mental Illness and Social Media

    Tuesday, 23 October 2012

    October 8, 2012


    To coincide with the start of Mental Health Month in NSW, the HIMH Acting Director, Jaelea Skehan, featured on NBN News to highlight mental health promotion and mental illness prevention in social media.

    Click on the link below to view the entire story.

    Mental Ilness and Social Media

  • Mental Health Month a Busy Time for the Child and Youth Team

    Tuesday, 23 October 2012

    October being mental health month ensures that it is a busy yet fruitful time for the child and youth team. While we are only midway through the month the team has already participated in two national conferences and followed this up by attending an international conference.


    The Early Childhood Australia National Conference


    During the first week of October the child and youth team attended the biennial Early Childhood Australia national conference in Perth. The team were very active during the conference presenting a symposium on brain development and mental health in collaboration with two international experts, Dr Stuart Shanker and Dr Mary Helen-Immordino Yang. In addition individual presentations were delivered by the team on partnerships and the practical manifestations of supporting mental health in the early childhood setting.

    The response to the presentations was positive with one delegate stating that the symposium was the highlight of the conference. 

    When the team wasn't presenting they were kept busy manning a popular trade display and attending sessions. The conference was an opportunity to learn about what is happening in the sector, to catch up with acquaintances and to develop new relationships. The team have returned to the office full of inspiration and new ideas.


    Australian Association of Infant Mental Health Inc National Conference.

    The success experienced at the Early Childhood Australia Conference was further built upon last week at the Australian Association of Infant Mental Health Inc (AAIMHI) National Conference in Adelaide. The theme of the conference was Keeping the infant in mind: cherishing, connecting and containing which relates to the work undertaken by the child and youth team. Once again the team had the honour of presenting an individual paper at this conference, which was well received by the audience.

    Attending the AAIMHI conference presented another valuable opportunity to catch up with key stakeholders in infant mental health and attend sessions on the latest research, polices and theories.


    7th World Conference on the Promotion of Mental Health and Prevention of Mental Illness Behavioural Disorders

    Last week the child and youth team took to the skies again to participate in the 7th World Conference on the Promotion of Mental Health and Prevention of Mental Illness and Behavioural Disorders in Perth. The team presented an individual paper and participated in a symposium, together with other projects from the Hunter Institute of Mental Health.

    Once again they manned a trade display, which was a great success. The conference brought together experts from around the world and it was another rich and exciting opportunity adding to the outstanding mental health month experienced by the team so far.

  • The Hunter Institute of Mental Health Celebrates 20 years!

    Friday, 12 October 2012

    Celebrating 20 Years- an afternoon of festivities!

    Guests and Staff (past and present) enjoyed an afternoon of celebration at Hunter Institute of Mental Health on Tuesday 11th September 2012 to mark the very special occasion of 20 years in service.
     

    Trade displays were abundant with resources and information of the projects the Institute have developed over the past 20 years. As people mingled there was a sense of achievement in the air.
     

    Those who attended were honoured to hear from ‘Aunty’ Sandra Griffin (Respected Awabakal Elder  and HNE staff member), who  gave everyone a warm welcome onto the indigenous land and congratulated the staff on all the work the Institute has done and continue to do.
     

    Mr Michael DiRienzo, Chief Executive of Hunter New England Health, then spoke very highly of the Institute and the progress and positive impact they have made to the Mental Health service.


    Trevor Hazell (Institute Director) spoke about the Institutes achievements as well as thanking his staff, with a special mention to long term staff Michelle Wallace, who’s commitment and values are an asset to the Institute.
     

    At the centre of the celebrations attendees viewed a video montage of all the programs established by the Institute. 
     

    To end the celebrations New Lambton High School students delighted attendees with their Mindplay performance, with a piece titled “ I am a girl”; an inspiring insight into Gender Identity Disorder.

     

  • Youth Rockin' the Black Dog 2012 Grand Final

    Tuesday, 2 October 2012

    The Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog (YRBD) - a ‘battle of the bands’ style community mental health awareness raising event - will culminate this Friday with the annual Grand Final event, to be held at The Loft youth venue, Wolfe St. Newcastle from 6pm.  The date coincides with the first weekend of NSW Mental Health Month.

    Seven young bands from the Newcastle and surrounding regions will compete on the night in front of industry judges, including special guest judge Chit Chat von Loopinstab (current interviewer to the stars on Foxtel’s Music MAX).

    First prize includes an EP recording package, this year supported by Impromptu Studios and Benchmark Mastering, as well as spot on the 2013 Fat As Butter Festival line-up.  Second place winners will take home $500 cash and third place winners will receive a $300 music equipment voucher.Other prizes on the night will be $500 for ‘best original song inspired by mental health imagery’, sponsored by APRA, as well as prize for the ‘best emerging youth band’, who will win a one-track demo recording.Dress to Riot

    The eclectic line-up of bands on the night include pop/punk band Dress to Riot (pictured), funk/rock band Peacemeal, 70s tinged acoustic rockers QnRoo, folk duo Riley and Donna, indie rock bands Blue Power Parrot and The Patriots, and electro-rockers The Episets.

    YRBD Coordinator Amy Vee said: “It’s astounding the amount of talent that comes out of this region. The bands in this year’s competition have been genuinely amazing.  The competition is open to bands with an average age of 12-21, so what you’re seeing as part of the events are our music stars of the future.”

    The night will also include audience prizes and giveaways and special guest speakers, as well as a performance from last year’s winners Carousel, fresh from their spot at this year’s Fat As Butter.

    The event is managed by the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, in partnership with the Black Dog Institute and Hunter headspace, with support from The Loft, Fat As Butter Festival, Allans & Billy Hyde, Impromptu Studios, Benchmark Mastering, APRA, Enigma, Wilson Mining, Mine Advice, Centennial Coal, LD Operations, Xstrata and members of the local music community.

    Tickets for the Grand Final are $10 and available from The Loft – 7A Wolfe St. Newcastle, ph: (02) 4974 2092.

    For further media enquiries, call (02) 4924 6924 or email mary-kate.hoogland@hnehealth.nsw.gov.au

    For further information and advice on how to report mental health and illness responsibly, see the
    Mindframe website - www.mindframe-media.info


     

  • Response Ability are presenting at the Early Childhood Australia conference in Perth this October

    Tuesday, 25 September 2012

    The Response Ability project team have been invited by Early Childhood Australia to participate in ECA's National Conference in Perth this October, 'Consulting the Compass - defining directions'.


    The ECA conference is Australia’s biggest early childhood conference in 2012 and the Response Ability team is looking forward to attending, presenting and meeting everyone at the Response Ability trade display.

     

    For more information go to:

    http://www.ecaconference.com.au/
    www.responseability.org

  • Award Winning PiD

    Tuesday, 11 September 2012

    Partners in Depression has been awarded a Certificate of Commendation in 2012’s Mental Health Matters Awards, funded by the Mental Health Association NSW.

    This year’s judging panel acknowledged the innovative nature of Partners in Depression and commended the program’s high standard of work and ongoing commitment to meaningfully engaging with people supporting a loved one with depression.

  • National recognition for Trevor Hazell, Director of the Hunter Institute of Mental Health

    Tuesday, 21 August 2012

    trevor award 2 

    The director of Newcastle-based Hunter Institute of Mental Health has been recognised nationally with a prestigious award.

    Trevor Hazell has been honoured for his “exceptional” contribution to the promotion of mental health and wellbeing and the prevention of mental illness in Australia.

    The ‘Award for Exceptional Contribution to Mental Health Services in Australia or New Zealand’ was presented by Professor Allan Fels, Chair of the National Mental Health Commission, at a ceremony in Cairns today (Wednesday 22nd August 2012). The accolade is part of the national TheMHS Conference’s 2012 Mental Health Achievement Awards.

    Members of staff at the Hunter Institute of Mental Health wish to congratulate their Director, Trevor Hazell on his success. The award comes as a bonus as the Institute marks its 20th year anniversary for providing national and international leadership in promotion of mental health and prevention of mental illness and suicide.

     

    For more information, please view the HIMH press release here.

    To view Trevor Hazell’s nomination, please click here

    To read Trevor's QandA written by Melissa Sweet click  on the link below:

    http://blogs.crikey.com.au/croakey/2012/08/31/what-does-it-take-to-improve-mental-health-some-insights-from-three-voices-of-experience/


    Congratulations Trevor!

     

  • Media and Mental Illness Portrayals - Critical Review of the International Evidence

    Friday, 17 August 2012

    Those with lived experience as well as health professionals have a major role to play in improving positive media portrayals of mental illness, according to a new report commissioned by the Mindframe National Media Initiative (Mindframe Initiative).

    Funded under the National Suicide Prevention Program by the Department of Health and Ageing, this was one of several key findings in the independent review of the evidence called: “The news and information media: a critical review”.

    The critical review aimed to identify, evaluate and interpret the available international and national research evidence regarding the presentation of mental illness in the media.

    With the mass media influential in shaping people’s knowledge, attitudes and behaviour, clarifying the way in which the media informs and misinforms the public in an area like mental illness is particularly important.

    Mindframe last commissioned a critical review of this kind back in 2000. The findings from this latest study will contribute to the revision of the current resources for the media and other sectors who are sources for stories about mental illness.

    Snapshot - the Critical Review found:

    • The media is an important source of information about mental illness, both for the general population and for people with lived experience of mental illness;
    • Some evidence to suggest that reporting practices have improved over time;
    • Mental illness, however, continues to be portrayed in a less than optimal way - in particular, schizophrenia appears to receive the poorest treatment in the media;
    • The media can encourage people to think that those with mental illness are violent and dangerous, which is often associated with a desire for social distance;
    • Mass media stigma reduction campaigns, web-based mental health literacy programs and documentary films can all have positive effects, particularly if they include personalised stories (as opposed to education alone);
    • Mental health experts should include consumers, who will have particularly insightful perspectives into the nuanced ways in which particular types of portrayal can send negative or positive messages.

    The full report is available to download.

    The news and information media: a critical review

     

  • The Response Ability Teacher Education Initiative Project

    Friday, 17 August 2012

    The Response Ability Teacher Education Initiative project team has recently completed a scoping study on the redevelopment of the Response Ability Secondary Teacher Education Resource. 

     The key elements of the scoping study included a literature review, and consultation with key stakeholders such as teacher educators, course coordinators, mental health peers, regulators in the educator sector and long-time users of the current resource. 

    The scoping report was submitted to the Response Ability Initiative funding body, the Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA), and will inform the DoHA about the current pre-service teacher training environment in relation to building the capacity of teachers in mental health promotion, prevention and early intervention. 

    For more information about the Response Ability Initiative please see www.responseability.org

  • PID Team Invited to Speak at Conference

    Tuesday, 7 August 2012

    After 3 years of evaluating the national rollout of the Partners in Depression program, the PiD Project Team is delighted to announce they have been invited to speak at:

    • 13th International Mental Conference in August 2012;
    • Mental Health Services Conference (TheMHS) in August 2012; 
    • Population Health Congress in September 2012;
    • 7th World Conference on the Promotion of Mental Health and the Prevention of Mental and Behavioural Disorders in October 2012; and
    • Family and Relationship Services National Conference in November 2012.

    A range of findings and elements of the program will be presented and the team is thrilled to be given the opportunity to share their passion and achievements with the national and international community. Well done PiD!

  • Foundations magazine Issue 10

    Wednesday, 1 August 2012

    The latest edition of Foundations magazine features articles on children's wellbeing, fathers readiness for school, practical strategies for managing emotional meltdowns and a fun child-friendly relaxation activity.  Read this and previous issues of Foundations for free here. If you would like to share your ideas or are interested in contributing to Foundations magazine, please contact Project Officer Ally Logatchova at: Ally.Logatchova@hnehealth.nsw.gov.au.
  • Mindframe presents at Postvention Conference

    Friday, 27 July 2012

    Mindframe Program Manager Jaelea Skehan recently presented at the 3rd Australian Postvention Conference in Sydney, 28-30 June 2012, which this year focused on “Hope Meaning and Direction”.

    The presentation highlighted key outcomes and results from the Suicide Bereavement and the Media consultation study, conducted by Mindframe late in 2011. To view Jaelea’s presentation slides, please click here.

    In addition, Jaelea was interviewed by Melissa Sweet from Croakey regarding Mindframe’s presentation during the Postvention Conference. The media article can be viewed via the Croakey website: http://blogs.crikey.com.au/croakey/2012/06/29/some-recent-reports-on-preventing-suicide-and-providing-better-support-to-the-bereaved/

  • Mental Health in Mining

    Friday, 27 July 2012

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health, in Partnership with the University of Newcastle and Consan Consulting has prepared a report on mental health issues in the Mining Industry in New South Wales. The Report was commissioned by the Minerals Council of New South Wales and was released at their Annual OH&S Conference on the 30th April 2012.

    For more information download this document
  • Over 100 stakeholders to meet with HIMH

    Friday, 27 July 2012

    On Wednesday 9 May and Thursday 10 May, the Hunter Institute of Mental Health will be consulting with over 100 stakeholders from state and national organisations as part of their brief to develop community guidelines for discussing suicide in NSW.

    Four half-day forums that focus on educational settings, workplaces, communities, and families will be held, with participants working with the project team to discuss priority targets and actions within each setting, opportunities, risks and barriers as well as thinking early about how the guidelines can be most of use to the broad NSW community.

    "The forums will bring together state and national experts in suicide prevention, a range of governmnet and non-government organisations, community groups, and people with direct experience of the issues" said Program Manager, Jaelea Skehan.

    "While much has been written about the need to talk more about suicide, there are limited evidence-based resources to guide these discussions across community settings. It is important to work in partnership with other organisations and communities. The forums are out first phase of consultation."

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health has been contracted by the NSW Ministry of Health, under the NSW Suicide Prevention Strategy, to review the evidence, consult with various stakeholders and develop guidelines for discussing suicide and attempted suicide in NSW. The aim of the guidelines will provide support for schools, workplaces, families and communities to strengthen their capacity to participate in suicide prevention action.

    More information about the project is available from the HIMH website: [insert Community Guidelines page link]

  • Imagine, Create, Inspire - Youth Week 2012

    Friday, 27 July 2012

    Under the theme of “Imagine, Create, Inspire”, during Youth Week 2012, we celebrate the contribution young people make to our society.

    The mental health and wellbeing of children and young people is one of our core areas of work, which commenced in 1997 under the first National Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy in Australia. Since that time we have worked at a local, state and national level to promote mental health, prevent mental illness and prevent suicide in young people.

    A link to our current programs targeting children and young people are provided below.

    Response Ability
    MindPlay [insert link to page]
    YRBD [insert link to page] 
    Foundations [insert link to page]
    Children's Resilience [insert link to page]
    Early Childhood Workforce Core Competencies [insert link to page]

  • ABS 2010 Causes of Death data

    Friday, 27 July 2012

    The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released the 2010 Causes of Death data, Tuesday 20th March 2012 - which includes annual national suicide information.

    The following information should be noted about the publication.

    The 2010 suicide data presented in the ABS publication are “preliminary data” and will be subject to a continued revision process. Key 2010 data includes:

    * There were 2,361 deaths by suicide; 
    * The age-standardised suicide rate was 10.5 per 100,000. This compares with 12.6 per 100,000 in 2001;
    * Males accounted for over three-quarters of all suicide deaths, with suicide ranking as the tenth leading cause of death of males, and the fifteenth leading cause overall.

    Also presented in latest ABS publication, are:

    * Revised 2009 and final 2008 suicide data;
    * In addition, 2006 suicide data has undergone a revision process with final 2006 data presented for this year’s publication.

    For further information and data, please view the Mindframe website for media professionals and the ABS website www.abs.gov.au

  • Dinner with Craig Hamilton and Response Ability

    Friday, 27 July 2012

    This year, Response Ability’s new advisory group members came together at the project’s “coal” face and were touched by a powerful local story of mental health resilience and recovery. Celebrating twenty years in mental health promotion by the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, the 2012 Response Ability dinner brought together educators in Journalism and Public Relations, local and national media representatives, researchers from the University of Newcastle as well as peak bodies such as the Public Relations Institute of Australia.

    Whilst local ABC Radio Broadcaster Craig Hamilton generously shared his personal experience of living with Bipolar I Disorder, guests were captivated by his courage, humour, honesty, insight and humility.  For members, Craig’s story clearly retained its profound impact throughout the following day, as advisory groups came together to pave the way for Response Ability to deliver mental health promotion and suicide prevention via the education sector for the next twelve months.

    The evening demonstrated the power of human experiences in mental health promotion and the community’s shared responsibility to handle these narratives with respect, appreciation and support. The Hunter Institute feels deep appreciation to Craig for sharing his story at this special event.

    News and Events_RA Dinner Function picture

  • NSW Community Guidelines

    Friday, 27 July 2012

    The Hunter Institute of Mental Health has been funded by NSW Health to work on an important new suicide prevention project in NSW. The Hunter Institute of Mental Health will review the evidence, consult with various stakeholders and then develop guidelines or a series of guidelines for discussing suicide and attempted suicide in NSW.

    The aim of the guidelines will provide practical support for schools, workplaces, families and communities to understand safe and helpful ways to talk about suicide and to strengthen their capacity to participate in suicide prevention action.

    Program Manager Jaelea Skehan said: “This is a complex but important project. It will draw on the Hunter Institute of Mental Health’s skills in translating research evidence into practical interventions and resources for a range of sectors that may have a role in suicide prevention.
    “We will ensure that we consult widely in NSW and with relevant stakeholders nationally, to ensure that the guidelines are based on best available research evidence, are easy to understand and apply and to ensure that they add value to existing resources and programs for the sectors we are targeting.”

    For more information refer to interim information provided on the Institute’s website [insert link to website page]

  • Happy Anniversary Celebrations

    Friday, 27 July 2012

    2012 represents the 20th anniversary of the formation of the Hunter Institute of Mental Health. We look forward to celebrating our achievements with our partners and supporters throughout the year. 2012 will also be a time to plan a way forward to ensure that the Institute maintains and enhances its place as a leading national organisation in mental health promotion and the prevention of mental illness and its impacts on those affected.