Another example of community playing a critical role is Our Town, a 10 year mental health initiative funded by the The Fay Fuller Foundation. Its aim is to equip South Australian towns and regions to be ‘mentally healthy’ by addressing mental health beyond the health system. The towns are working on shifting unhealthy aspects of local cultures, stigma, discrimination and local economic challenges. To do this, they’ve been supported with a year of capability building in mental health, community leadership and innovation skills.
In 2020, the Fay Fuller Foundation also funded the TACSI project Community Responders, which set out to discover what South Australians want and need when it comes to mental health crises. Led by passionate young people with lived experience of mental health, this project saw these young people spend several months gathering insights from their communities. Then, after a deep co-design process, they produced nine community roles and conversation tools, which we now intend to test within the community, including schools, workplaces and sporting clubs.
Covid-19, the recession and the climate emergency are creating unprecedented levels of psychological stress, isolation and uncertainty that we’re not equipped to deal with. The resulting decline in mental health is a wellbeing challenge that also has dire consequences for our economy. The Prime Minister is right – now is the time for an inflection point in how we address our national mental health.