Sector Innovation in Action

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Mentally Healthy City Townsville

Townsville was the first city in Australia to take up the Mentally Healthy Cities challenge to support population-wide wellbeing. Mentally Health Cities Townsville (MHCT) is guided by the Tropical Brain & Mind Foundation to take action to support the communities within the Townsville City Council area to achieve a balance of mental health and wellbeing that enables their citizens to cope with the normal stresses of life, realise their abilities, participate in, and belong to community, and work productively.

Mentally Healthy City Townsville (MHCT) believes that “well-being is everyone’s business, and it starts with me!” Wellbeing happens in communities that work together to strengthen and nurture the environments where people live, work, and play to thrive and flourish.

MHCT works in collaboration with the Townsville City Council (TCC), Townsville Hospital and Health Service (THHS), Northern Qld Primary Health Network (NQPHN), Qld Mental Health Commission (QMHC), business community, and a range of other local stakeholders to build local wellbeing capacity to create, improve and grow community resources.

The MHCT Advisory Group and Champions works alongside the Community Engagement Officer to implement the MHCT Charter. The Community Engagement Officer also works with local communities to provide Awareness, Education and Early Intervention strategies and support.

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MHCT understands that a whole of community solutions focussed approach is the way forward in assisting positive community change, real time connectedness, to keep Individuals safe and assist with reducing social isolation and enhancing and nurturing Individuals wellbeing.

The MHCT website offers information about local mental health and wellbeing supports, including online sites and apps. Similar approaches have been successfully implemented in London and Philadelphia.

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Gift of Gallang

The Gift of Gallang ‘Healing of the Mind, Body & Spirit’ is a suicide prevention school-based program specifically developed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in Brisbane’s Inala region (grades 4-6). The program is also currently delivered in the Logan and Beaudesert regions.

The program aims to provide children with tools to support and nurture their resilience while providing a safe environment. Its development was prompted by several deaths by suicide of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people in the community. The community recognised the significant impact of these deaths on the wellbeing of individuals, families and communities.

Children are immersed in cultural age-old traditional ceremonies, practices and spirituality to strengthen their identity and give them a sense of belonging and connection. These are seen as crucial factors in enabling the children to weather obstacles and adversity in life.

The Gift of Gallang is community-driven, developed and owned by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

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Momentum Mental Health

Momentum Mental Health, formally known as Toowoomba Clubhouse, provides a supportive environment for its members to develop valuable life skills and receive mental health support.

The clubhouse was established 25 years ago, after its founders noted a shortage of community-based assistance for those living with a mental illness in the area. CEO Deborah Bailey describes the service as “not a traditional clubhouse” as it offers one-on-one coaching to meet the needs of individuals.

The service has significantly changed the way it offers support. One change that has won strong community backing is that Momentum Mental Health will no longer require a diagnosis to access its services.

“If someone wants to work on their mental health and they can access the service how it’s intended, they are welcome,” said Deborah. Another change is that participants will set out their goal on entry, plan how they want to achieve it, how they will celebrate when they reach their goal, and what their situation will look like when they are ready to exit the service.

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During their time with Momentum Mental Health, participants are coached, either online, over the phone or in person. Among the many group activities and programs participants can join, are sessions which offer practical help with budgeting, sleep hygiene and exercise, and a Job Club. Momentum takes a collaborative, inclusive approach, ensuring there is less of a power imbalance than in most traditional mental health services.

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Togetherall is a 24 hour, 365 days a year, online service designed to help as many people as possible with anxiety, depression and other common mental health issues. The service is commissioned by more than 250 organisations across the UK, North America and New Zealand. It was established as a safe, judgement-free digital space to get support for mental health. The service supports open and anonymous conversations between peers which are moderated by trained practitioners, combining the concepts of an online forum and clinical support. They also provide a creative outlet for expression and a range of courses on mental health and lifestyle topics that can be undertaken individually or in groups.

A library of resource articles and tests are available to help users learn and track their progress. Togetherall have supported over 300,000 with their mental health and 55 per cent of members have reported feeling less isolated after using their services.

Stigma Cutz

Stigma Cutz is a not-for-profit charity barber shop in Brisbane which aims to tackle the stigma surrounding mental health and suicide among men. The shop employs barbers who are certified in mental health first aid and features a pool table, a TV, gaming consoles and refreshments for the clients to enjoy in a safe and relaxing environment. It is an initiative from A Chance for Change, a charity aimed at preventing depression in men with 100% of the money from Stigma Cutz going back into the charity.

The founders of Stigma Cutz have cited the environment of open conversation typically found at barber shops as the foundation for the project, combining this open and friendly atmosphere with the therapeutic expertise of its workers. Clients are often referred to mental health professionals if they express interest in further assistance, which is facilitated through the barber shop’s network of mental health professionals. Barber shops with similar goals and approaches can also be found in other parts of the world, such as the Lions Barber Collective in the UK which aims to raise awareness of suicide prevention.

A photo of a barber's hands working at cutting somebody's hair