Loddon Healthy Minds Network – Working Together for our Community

The 2018 Australian Rural & Remote Mental Health Symposium will this year be held over 15-17 October at the Hotel Grand Chancellor, Hobart, Tasmania.

Joining us at the conference is Mrs Wendy Gladman, Director Community Wellbeing at the Loddon Shire Council who will present on ‘Loddon Healthy Minds Network – Working Together for our Community’.

Abstract

The Loddon Healthy Minds Network originated in 2007 when community representatives joined with Council to work together to improve mental health support in the Loddon Shire and continues to work for an inclusive, resilient and stigma free Loddon community with access to appropriate mental health services. The network has a key focus on suicide prevention. The network now consists of Council, a range of agencies who service the area and community representatives who together work to promote and advocate for access to services and to reduce stigma in our community through awareness raising activities and education opportunities.

The Loddon community faces many of the high-risk factors associated with poor mental health and increased risk of suicide. The area is predominantly farming, facing economic and financial problems, and stressors related to changing climatic conditions, including thirteen years of drought and four major floods in the last 25 years. The area has an ageing population who reside in small communities with large distances to travel. There is no one regional centre that services the community.

The community experiences poorer access to specialised care, apprehension around seeking help with high levels of stigma, lower educational attainment, lower incomes, limited or no public transport and an increased risk of social isolation.

With a lack of suitable resources, and the traditional methods of engagement not working the Network decided to take control; to deliver activities and develop a range of resources that suited their communities.

This has included developing a strategic plan to guide its work, community activities to raise awareness and a range of resources. The network conducts an annual art show, sunshine breakfasts and has developed a carer’s video, LGBTIQ posters school and in August 2018 delivered its inaugural Suicide Prevention Conference with a focus on rural strategies that work.

Key Learnings:
1. Council, agencies and community working together to achieve better outcomes.
2. local solutions for local communities Working to make mental health part of our everyday language (reduce stigma) Take control.
3. Are the resources available suitable or working in your community, if not, then create ones that will.

Biography

Wendy has worked with the Loddon Shire Council for over 20 years in various community service areas. As Director Community Wellbeing, Wendy manages the aged care, early years, recreation, youth, rural access, community planning, libraries and emergency management functions of Council. In 2012 Wendy added the facilitation of the Loddon Healthy Minds Network on behalf of Council. In this role, she coordinates the membership and governance of the group, strategic planning, network meetings, production of resources, advocacy and awareness raising opportunities and coordination of the newly established by-annual Suicide Prevention Conference.

For more information on the upcoming 2018 Australian Rural & Remote Mental Health Symposium please visit anzmh.asn.au/rrmh