Grassroots mental health initiatives in rural Australia receive a $200,000 boost

Grassroots mental health initiatives in rural Australia receive a $200,000 boost

The Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR) has announced the first recipients of the In a Good Place grants program. The funds support projects that improve mental health support in rural, regional and remote communities.

Fourteen projects will share $200,000 in In a Good Place grants, thanks to this joint initiative with CCI Giving. Given the pressures and distinct challenges associated with living in rural and regional communities, as well as widespread and long-term nature of the drought, it was not surprising this program was in high demand, attracting 74 applications seeking more than $1.2M in funds.

The program came about because CCI Giving and FRRR recognise that people living in small rural, regional or remote communities do not have the same level of access to mental health services and care as their urban counterparts. The National Rural Health Alliance (NRHA) reports there are only one third the number of psychologists in remote Australia compared with major cities, and 20 per cent more hospitalisations due to mental illness.

FRRR CEO, Natalie Egleton, says that many applicants quoted alarming statistics about mental health issues in their local regions, reporting rising levels of mental distress and suicide. However, there were some great ideas to respond in a way that will ensure people in need get the support they need.

“NRHA highlight that people living in smaller rural communities, where people are more visible and know each other, can be apprehensive about seeking help, and fear the stigma often associated with mental illness.

“Thanks to the support of CCI Giving, we have funded projects that will provide support in different ways – from general information sessions, to specific advice services and targeted support. These project will make a difference across all age-groups, from youth to seniors, by improving skills, connecting people with services, and importantly, with each other.”

Roberto Scenna, CEO of CCI and Director of CCI Giving, said that while many of us take our mental health for granted, and can easily access support when we need it, isolation and a lack of services make that much more challenging for those in country areas.

“It is more important than ever to empower local communities to take ownership of their population’s health and wellbeing. There were a number of trusted organisations that applied for funding, including many local faith-based organisations. We are very pleased to be able to provide these funds so they can do this important work and help more people access programs and services that respond to the unique situations they face,” Mr Scenna said.

Some of the locally-led projects funded in Round One of the In a Good Place program include:

  • fLiNG Physical Theatre Inc, NSW – $17,700 – the My Black Dog project will strengthen the mental health and wellbeing of young people in the Bega Valley area by engaging them in performance art and wellbeing workshops. This project will use the arts to discuss relevant youth mental health issues, tackle stigma and equip young people, and the broader community, with coping skills and strategies.
  • Lifeline Tasmania Inc, TAS – $20,000 – Lifeline Tasmania is establishing Suicide Bereavement Groups in four rural communities to decrease isolation and build resilience. The project Suicide Bereavement Group worker will also develop and trial a Suicide Bereavement Group Procedure Manual, with a view to supporting other rural communities to establish their own groups.
  • Rural Communities Australia Ltd, SA – $4,313 – the Country Women Seniors Project is working to address and prevent depression and improve self-worth through storytelling. Through a series of interviews and support groups, older women around Robe will share their personal stories and identify the challenges they face participating in the community and building social connections. This information will help inform ways in which local communities can assist these women to become less isolated.
  • Shire of Augusta Margaret River, WA – $19,279 – the Augusta Margaret River Community Healing and Regeneration Project is a collaborative project in response to a series of traumatic incidents experienced in the community. The project aims to build mental health and community resilience through a series of community walks and planting events to foster healing, reconnection and resilience for the local community at sites significant to the various incidents.

For more information on the In a Good Place program, or to review the full list of Round One grant recipients, go to https://www.frrr.org.au/in_a_good_place 

The next round of this program will open in mid-2019. Keep an eye on FRRR’s grants calendar for the opening date.