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Health Minister officially launches mental health program for regional and remote Australia

MEDIA RELEASE

Friday 22 April 2016

Health Minister officially launches mental health program for regional and remote Australia

Member for Farrer and Minister for Health Hon Sussan Ley MP today launched a mental health awareness program in Albury, run by mental health organisation, OzHelp Foundation.

The ALERT program is a 45-minute suicide prevention workshop providing people with strategies to understand and build personal resilience in dealing with depression and anxiety.

Minister Ley officially launched the program at the Albury Community Health Centre this morning.

“An individual’s mental health can be influenced by a range of factors. It is important to recognise the early warning signs that lead to poor mental health, to ensure individuals and their families get help sooner rather than later,” Minister Ley said.

“Getting the right help early can prevent more serious or long term issues.

“OzHelp’s new ALERT programme combines both clinical and non-clinical support and regional level partnerships, and provides individuals with important tools, coping strategies and practical help for good mental health now and into the future.”

The OzHelp Foundation receives Federal and State Government funding and has recently been given a 12-month philanthropic grant from the John T Reid Charitable Trusts to bring the workshops to people in regional and remote areas where people can often feel quite isolated in dealing with mental illness.

The ALERT program is currently delivered to 9,000 people across Australia each year.

“This workshop is proven to be extremely effective in increasing the awareness and understanding of anxiety, depression and suicide. It has been designed to be accessible for everyone in the community,” Tony Holland, OzHelp CEO said.

“We know that by equipping people with the skills to engage in a simple conversation with a friend or family member who may be experiencing anxiety or depression, we can potentially save a life.”

People who undertake the program will:

  • Be informed of the risk and protective factors for anxiety and depression
  • Be aware of factors that may contribute to someone having thoughts of suicide.
  • Be able to personally identify healthy coping strategies that contribute to strengthening resilience.
  • Understand the importance of asking for help when times get tough.

Wendy Kefford, a participant of the ALERT program who also attended the launch, said the workshops have greatly helped her team at Guideline, ACT.

“We have a big team of people and have found the ALERT program to be really valuable to help us develop the skills to identify potential issues before they reach crisis point within our workforce,” Ms Kefford said.

The philanthropic grant from the John T Reid Charitable Trusts will enable the OzHelp Foundation to train and license people in regional areas to deliver ALERT in their communities.

The program will be rolled out in local areas throughout NSW, WA, ACT, NT, QLD, TAS and VIC.

The ALERT program is also supported by a free phone app. OzHelp can be contacted on 1300 694 347 or visit www.ozhelp.org.au
MEDIA: Health Minister Hon Sussan Ley, OzHelp CEO Tony Holland and OzHelp ALERT participant Wendy Kefford are available for interview. Please contact Jackie Hanafie on jackie@fiftyacres.com or 0412 652 439.

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