CEO Update - 9 October


 CEO Update, Mental Health AustraliaGrace Groom Memorial Oration

This Week

Mental Health Week

Happy Mental Health Week!

It’s been a very busy mental health week, culminating in World Mental Health Day tomorrow.

This is an important week for us all and I’m encouraged to see you making plenty of hay while the sun has been shining on mental health! The ABC’s Mental As campaign has been interesting to watch this year, kicking off with a very thought provoking Q and A on Monday night. Someone told me it could have gone on for another two hours without an issue.  Given her longstanding connections with Mental Health Australia it was wonderful to see Fay Jackson make such a mark for lived experience!  I’m heading to Sydney tomorrow to attend the Saturday Night Crack Up with Communications Director Chris Wagner and I’m very much looking forward to that.

You would have seen that we put out some research this week, as part of our World Mental Health Day campaign “Mental Health Begins with Me!”. This survey of over 1200 people asked Australians to rate themselves against ten activities that can have a positive impact on mental health and wellbeing. We found that generally people are doing better than we thought on everything except help seeking. Help seeking remains the black spot in our collective mental health journey and we have much to do to break down stigma and improve services. The campaign itself has been a great success with good media coverage for the research (including my chat with Fran Kelly on RN Breakfast), thousands of promises and lots of activity on our social media channels.  At the start of the week I also had the opportunity to do an extended interview on ABC News 24 covering a range of issues we face in mental health reform.

Health Minister Sussan Ley made a statement this week regarding the Government’s response to the National Mental Health Commission’s Review and we are beginning to see a shift from an argument for reform to a discussion on what reform should look like. The Minister has indicated once again her intention to release a plan by the end of the year and we stand ready to assist. Our Distributed Advocacy Day activity continues and I encourage you all to move forward with this to help maintain pressure on the Government to take a bold approach to reform.

Today is also Hat Day. I know my staff always enjoy days like this, and our twitter feed has photos of our people with a variety of hats on. This day helps raise money for mental health research, a vital requirement for a better mental health system.

Have you made your mental health promise yet? You can see Minister Ley’s promise at the bottom of this newsletter. If you haven’t, visit and join more than 11,000 others on our promise wall. If you have, why not make another one!
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Grace Groom Memorial Oration

There are still some tickets available for this year’s Grace Groom Memorial Oration. As advised in my previous updates we are very excited to welcome Professor Mike Slade from the UK as this year’s speaker. Professor Slade will be discussing a range of issues including the importance of ensuring the voice of people with lived experience of mental illness becomes a central driver in shaping mental health system reform for the future. Full details are available on the website.
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Open letter to the Prime Minister regarding off shore detention

Today we signed a joint open letter to the Prime Minister calling for the release of all children and their families from detention centres on Nauru and Manus Island. The letter, initiated by the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses, also calls for substantial changes to the living conditions and freedoms of people in detention, to help reduce the current risks to their mental health and wellbeing. Click on the link below to read the full letter.  
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Mental Health Week presentations 

Earlier in the week I spoke with 150 members of the Attorney Generals Department in Canberra about what they can do to improve their personal mental health, the mental health of their workplace, and (by laws preventing discrimination) the mental health of the country.

Today I am in Perth to speak at the Baptist Care National Conference.


Parliamentary news

Labor’s plan for mental illness and suicide prevention

The Australian Labor Party has released its plan for mental illness and suicide prevention. The plan advocates a regional approach as recommended by the National Mental Health Commission. Labor has also committed to reducing suicide rates in Australia by 50 per cent over the next ten years. Visit the website for full details here.
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Mental Health: A Consensus for Action - Fourth Interim Senate Report

The Senate Select Committee on Health released their fourth interim report yesterday focusing on mental health. The committee heard directly from people with a lived experience of mental illness as well as a range of service providers to better understand what needs to happen now for the long term transition of Australia’s mental health system. Mental Health Australia was able to represent many of the views expressed at our most recent Members Policy Forum, and you will see many of those reflected in the final report.  Visit the website to download the full report.
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National Carers Week

Next week we will be celebrating National Carers Week! The week is a time to recognise and celebrate the outstanding contribution that Australia’s 2.7 million unpaid carers make to our nation. Anyone at any time can become a carer and National Carers Week is an opportunity to raise community awareness among all Australians about the diversity of carers and their caring roles. Carers make an enormous contribution to our communities as well as our national economy. Should all carers decide to stop performing their caring role, it would cost the country $60.3 billion per year to replace those supports – that’s over $1 billion per week, or 3.8% of Gross Domestic Product. Visit the website for more details.
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NDIS important position paper survey

HelpingMinds is developing a national position paper on the NDIS in relation to Mental Health Carers and Mental Health Carer Service Provider Organisations. They are calling for survey participants to help their research. The research seeks to develop an understanding of what is and isn’t working on the ground for carers involved with the NDIS, establish carer’s needs, identify barriers and establish the impact of the NDIS on mental health carer organisations. The survey will take approximately 20 minutes. For full details please visit the website.
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Loneliness, severe mental illness behind frequent calls to crisis helplines

Researchers at the University of Melbourne have mapped the health service use of frequent callers to crisis helplines to find out what might be driving the calls. Frequent callers use crisis helplines multiple times a week for months on end. Although they only represent a small proportion of helpline callers, they place a heavy burden on Australian crisis helplines. The study has revealed that frequent callers are more likely to require complex medical care and are often socially isolated. To download the full report please visit the website.
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Farmers will fight to stop the ripple effect of suicide

Farmers will help farmers beat suicide in an innovative new digital project, funded by beyondblue through donations from the Movember foundation. The Ripple Effect, a partnership between leading rural advocacy, academic and health organisations was successful in receiving a $440,000 grant in July this year to help prevent the suicide of men in farming communities and it has taken its next big step. The Ripple Effect Steering Group was appointed in August, and earlier this week, during Mental Health Week, held its first ever face-to-face meeting of farmers, rural health experts and industry partners. For more details please visit the website.
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Risk and resilience forum

Our friends at the Hunter Institute of Mental Health are hosting a forum on improving the wellbeing of children, young people and families. The full day event is being held in partnership with beyondblue and the Young and Well CRC and participants will hear keynote presentations along with a series of interactive panel discussion, highlighting the challenges that children and young people face today. The event is being held in Newcastle on Monday 16 November. You can register via the website.
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Mental Health First Aid Australia seeking artwork submissions

Mental Health First Aid Australia is currently seeking artwork by older people depicting their experience of mental illness, to be included in their Older Persons Mental Health First Aid (OMHFA) Manual, which is currently being written. Artists will be paid $100 for the right to use a high-resolution image of their artwork in the OMHFA Manual. For further details please contact the team at MHFA via the link below.
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Blue Knot Day - 26 October

Blue Knot Day is ASCA’s national awareness day celebrated in October every year. On this day, ASCA asks all Australians to unite in support of the 5 million Australian adult survivors of childhood trauma and abuse.

This year’s Blue Knot Day is on Monday 26th October 2015, with events held throughout the country during the week of October 26 to November 1. See what events have already been scheduled in your area. Building on our overarching message that “recovery is possible”, this year’s Blue Knot Day has a theme of “supportive communities help survivors recover”. ASCA is asking all communities to be receptive and supportive to the survivors who live within their local communities. Visit the website for details on how you can get involved.
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Society for Mental Health Research Conference 2015 - early bird registrations available

A reminder that early–bird registration is now available for SMHR 2015. Register before Friday 19 October 2015, and save up to $50 off the standard full registration rates. SMHR 2015 ‘Building a healthier future’ will be held at the Sofitel Brisbane Hotel 2-5 December 2015. This year’s conference theme has been developed to reflect both the broad range of mental health and psychiatry research from the sub-cellular to translation and implementation science as well as the spectrum of diagnoses that are covered. Visit the website for full details.
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Warm regards,
Frank Quinlan
Chief Executive Officer   Mental Health Begins with Me!


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