2017 is the first year that Queensland communities have been able to apply for $85,000 in grant funding to assist them in sharing key mental health messages and raising awareness.  The aim is to have multiple events around Queensland that contribute to improved mental health and wellbeing in local communities. The grant program, funded by the Queensland Mental Health Commission, is managed by the Queensland Alliance for Mental Health.

Queensland Mental Health Week raises awareness of mental health and wellbeing during the week of 8 – 14 October through a range of events and activities. The theme for 2017 is to value mental health.

Locally driven community events and activities help promote mental health and wellbeing with the intent to create and enhance understanding of mental illness.  These initiatives also celebrate the lives of those living with mental illness.

Forty four community groups around the State have shared in the grant funding to host community events during Queensland Mental Health Week.  Mental Health Commissioner Ivan Frkovic said Queensland Mental Health Week served to remind all Queenslanders to value their mental health and wellbeing: “Importantly, the week helps promote ongoing local community conversation and momentum around mental health and wellbeing.  The week also creates greater community awareness and understanding of people with a lived experience of mental illness, celebrates their lives, and recognises the contribution of the people, organisations and community groups who support them.”

An example of funded events during Queensland Mental Health Week:

  • Make a splash on the Sunshine Coast at a community recreational fishing family day to foster inclusion, engage and educate on mental health and wellbeing.
  • Relax at the ‘Zen Den’ and family fun day in Townsville. The interactive Zen Den teaches awareness of anxiety, and mindfulness and relaxation strategies.
  • In Cairns an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts and culture festival to promote the importance of culture to community social and emotional wellbeing is a highlight.
  • By the light of the silver screens.  Communal movie nights in regional and remote communities are bringing people together to talk positive mental health and wellbeing messages.

Local community activities provide a focal point for awareness, education and understanding and help foster community connection and inclusion for those living with mental illness, their families, carers and support people.  It is widely understood that mental health and wellbeing is often fraught for children and young people in the care system.  Issues of trauma alongside displacement and a disconnect born of multiple moves associated with living arrangements and schooling have been found to exacerbate mental health issues and impact wellbeing. The vital importance of stable connections with individuals, family, community and culture is often noted.  This is especially pertinent for children and young people with a care experience.  It is particularly important during Queensland Mental Health Week to remember the significance of focusing on children and young people in care and those transitioning from care in terms of their mental health and wellbeing and their need to have meaningful connections across a continuum of individual relationships, places and communities.  Connection to culture is key to these considerations.  In supporting children and young people with a care experience, acknowledgement of the many trials they’ve experienced as well as understanding their needs for healing, connection and belonging will go some way in assisting their holistic immediate and long term mental health and wellbeing.

It has been noted that in working with children and young people who experience complex trauma in their lives, there are key principles on which to build a relationship and connection.  These include having a personal framework and organisational philosophy that is cognisant with the needs of children and young people. Overall this is strengths based and founded on a belief that children and young people have capacity and are working towards self- determination.  The central belief is that the core to human growth and wellbeing is connectedness.

Queensland Mental Health Week offers many resources to assist those focused on learning more about mental health and wellbeing.  Amongst them is the 100 days poster which outlines 100 key tips for maintaining mental health and wellbeing.  Amongst the advice, the importance of connection with others is reiterated.  Further advice is to:  sleep right, relax to improve wellbeing, exercise regularly, check in and go home on time.

There are many reasons to be involved in Queensland Mental Health Week which include:

  1. Promoting activities that enhance mental, physical, social and spiritual wellbeing
  2. Reducing stigma associated with mental illness by raising awareness
  3. Providing information about mental health and wellbeing services
  4. Celebrating individuals who make the community unique
  5. Connecting with partners or the local community
  6. Encouraging help-seeking and self-care

235 events have taken place around Queensland thus far, with the week ending on 14th October.

For more information visit the Queensland Mental Health Week website.