SPA CEO on Mental Health week campaigns

13 October 2014

I was delighted to see in the news today that ABC Mental As raised almost 1.5 million dollars for mental health research with their Friday Night Crack Up event last week and awareness campaign this month. This is an amazing effort by the ABC, other media networks, health professionals and last, but certainly not least,  Australian public.

This was coupled with news last week of the Movember Foundation announcing the largest ever non-government investment in men’s mental health in Australia, allocating $22.3 million to fund programs to help change the face of men’s health. The Foundation’s Australian Mental Health Initiative brings together teams from across sectors and around the country to collaborate on projects that focus on keeping men and boys mentally healthy in the community and workplace, encouraging those with a mental health problem to take action early and reducing the stigma associated with mental health.

In suicide prevention, we are similarly committed to more coordinated funding and focused research objectives. Last month, we held our third meeting to develop the National Research Action Plan to increase suicide prevention research and research funding. Lived experience representatives from around the country met in Sydney to contribute to the planning process. Feedback from all three workshops (researchers, service providers, lived experience) will now be pulled together into a draft action plan. A workshop combining all three of these representative groups will be invited to discuss this draft in the New Year. These will be also be circulated to gain input from wider networks. We aim to launch a National Research Action Plan in 2015 on World Suicide Prevention Day (10 September).

Suicide Prevention Australia (SPA) would also like to congratulate members and partners on their public awareness campaigns this month to reduce the stigma related to mental health and help seeking for suicide, and to increase access to care.

We saw Mental Health Australia’s ‘Mental Health Begins with Me’ campaign resulting in over 8000 promises on their online promise wall. This means over 8000 Australians thinking about their mental health and wellbeing and sharing it with others in their networks.

We also saw beyondblue release the results of their ‘The Invisible Discriminator’ campaign launched two months ago. The campaign reached exactly half of its target audience of non-Indigenous 25-44 year-olds via television, digital and outdoor advertising. The campaign’s success is highlighted by findings that include:

- 35% of the target audience disagree that moving away from an Indigenous person when they sit nearby is discriminatory, down from 46% before the campaign

- 22% disagree that watching Indigenous people as they shop is discriminatory, down from 30%

- 35% disagree that telling jokes about Indigenous Australians is discriminatory, down from 40%

These campaigns are just a couple that show that we really can make a difference to how Australians feel and act in relation to mental health and the stigma around suicide prevention. We look forward to this success continuing!

Best wishes