Alan Ryan, Heather Smith, Sharon Ryan, Kim Tompson, Kath Hema, Ethel Millar, Gail Hite and Lisa Symes (front) at the recent Middlemount Conversations for Life training session.
Alan Ryan, Heather Smith, Sharon Ryan, Kim Tompson, Kath Hema, Ethel Millar, Gail Hite and Lisa Symes (front) at the recent Middlemount Conversations for Life training session. Contributed

Shattering mental health stigma in rural communities

NEBO residents will now have access to life-changing mental health training with the help of the Isaac Suicide Prevention Group.

With funding from the Isaac Regional Charity Fund, the ISPG will be able to continue its important work in the region.

IRCF chair, and Isaac Regional Council mayor Anne Baker said the grant aimed to help, aid, relieve, or support those in the Isaac region who were experiencing distress.

"Through events such as the Mayor's Charity Ball, we're able to raise critical funds, which are distributed to projects supporting Isaac residents, particularly in areas of mental health,” she said.

Ms Baker said it was important that governments, businesses and community organisations, work together to talk about mental health.

"We need to bring mental health out of the shadows and into the national consciousness,” she said.

The ISPG will use the funding to bring Conversations For Life - Early Suicide Prevention Training to Nebo in July, as part of a region-wide program.

The training is a half-day early suicide prevention course, providing participants with the knowledge, skills and confidence to have conversations with others who are starting to show signs of distress.

The course has already been delivered in Middlemount, Dysart, St Lawrence, Clermont and Moranbah.

"Thanks to the Isaac Regional Charity Fund, we've been able to help communities in the Isaac Region, understand mental health, and how to assist others who are vulnerable. We're looking forward to delivering the program to the Nebo community,” founder of Patria Consulting Cherie Miller said.

Ms Miller said it was important communities were aware of the prevalence of mental health and suicide and had an understanding of life events and social determinants that contributed to the person's wellbeing.

"The course gives participants the skills and knowledge to identify signs and debunk social myths on mental health and suicide prevention. They also learn how to problem solve and create communication strategies that focus on wellbeing,” Ms Miller said.

"The response to training in the Isaac region has been overwhelmingly positive. We've seen a 65 per cent increase in knowledge of preventing suicide. Ninety-six per cent of participants attending are willing to initiate and engage in a conversation to reduce a person's risk of suicide.

"Ninety-five per cent of participants who attended the training are now confident to work out practical steps needed to help the person and take action if needed.

"We've also seen extraordinary results in St Lawrence and Middlemount, with a 94 per cent and 92 per cent increase in knowledge of preventing suicide.”

To register for Conversations for Life in Nebo on July 17, visit here.

If you are experiencing personal difficulties, please phone Lifeline on 13 11 14 or beyondblue on 1300 22 4636.