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Making Health Better
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“If you’ve been feeling down or like something’s not right, it’s important to reach out.” That is the key message of a series of short videos which aim to promote awareness of mental health support among northern Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

The videos were developed by Neami National in partnership with Northern Queensland Primary Health Network (NQPHN) and Aboriginal-owned agency Bush TV.

Filmed in Yeppoon, Hope Vale and Cairns, the videos share the stories of community members such as Woppaburra man Bob Muir and Erubam Le woman Kay Zaro, who have either cared for someone experiencing mental health challenges or faced mental health challenges of their own, and how seeking support has helped them overcome these challenges.

“Sometimes, if you talk to someone, it’s the first step in the healing process” says Bob. “Even if a stranger might be able to give you advice on who to see and make you think about maybe just going to see the doctor for a start.”

The videos emphasise the importance of connection to Culture, Country and the community to maintain spiritual, social and emotional wellbeing, but also of seeking professional help, starting with a GP or primary health worker as a first point of contact.

Kay, who experienced depression, says “I think if things get really bad, it’s important that we use our family networks. But it’s also important to seek medical advice as well. Go and see your GP, there’s lots of good advice they can give you.”

The main aim of the videos is to reduce stigma, help people recognise signs of mental ill health, promote awareness of the availability of support services, and encourage people to reach out and seek help early on. A secondary aim is to promote the Connect to Wellbeing service, which helps to connect people with mental health support.

Run by Neami National in partnership with NQPHN, Connect to Wellbeing provides a single point of entry for people seeking support for a range of mental health needs in Northern Queensland. Connecting people with the right support at the right time is crucial to successfully addressing mental health needs, however navigating the avenues for support can be difficult. Connect to Wellbeing helps GPs, service providers, patients and carers to connect with the supports available in the region by providing intake, assessment, triage and referral services.

The service is part of the Stepped Care model which is being rolled out under the Australian Government’s mental health reforms. Stepped Care is an evidence-based approach which aims to provide flexible and adaptable support across the spectrum of needs, making it easy for people to move between programs as their needs change.

Neami National Queensland State Manager Karen Thomas says the videos were developed to let people know that culturally appropriate support is available. “Connect to Wellbeing is committed to working with and supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. We want to ensure that people have access to mental health and wellbeing information and services that are culturally safe. These videos show real people sharing real stories in their own voice. They could be your mate, your brother or your auntie. And that’s really important for people to identify and realise that there’s no shame in asking for help.”

NQPHN Executive Director – Clinical Governance and Performance Gillian Yearsley said “We know that people can find it difficult to seek help when going through a difficult time. In some communities, stigma can be particularly strong. Sometimes, people can feel more comfortable talking to someone from the same culture. These videos are an important tool to promote awareness of mental health, address stigma, and let people know that culturally appropriate local workers can support them to improve their wellbeing.”

View the videos
You can view the videos on the Neami National YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/user/neaminational