What is the Mentally Healthy City project?
The Mentally Healthy City (MHC) project aims to help the people of Townsville flourish and thrive as a community by heightening the focus on mental wellness and through assisting individuals and organisations to better support those people who from time to time may be mentally unwell. Townsville has many clinical services on offer, however it is not enough to address just intervention to mental illness without informed prevention.
What is a Mentally Healthy City?
A mentally healthy city addresses mental health as a comprehensive, whole of life, health and well-being agenda involving individual citizens and the support of the broader community.
It is a city that understands and supports the availability and ease of access of mental health services based on a stepped care approach comprising of a hierarchy of interventions, from least to the most intensive according to an individual’s needs.
It aims to establish a community culture of support in a positive community environment and stigma reduction.
How is the project different?
MHC is supporting the journey from a grassroots level by educating and empowering the local community to understand and maintain positive mental health and well-being.
MHC project is not replacing services already provided, but working alongside mental health service providers and other organisations to provide the resources of engagement, education and promotion in our everyday lives.
MHC is building greater awareness of the continuum of mental health and an integrated approach to provision of services and support.
Whilst the Townsville project is a first formal approach for an Australian city, this concept has been successful globally in cities like Philadelphia (USA) and London (UK) amongst others.
Why is it important?
Mental health is a significant public health issue throughout Australia as it is in many other countries
The current approach is not sufficient to address mental health concerns in Australia and bring real and lasting change to the lives of Australians who experience poor mental health and more distressingly take their own lives
Collaborative action for community well-being is a necessary step in improving the mental health of our community
Townsville has a suicide rate of 2.5 times the national average.^
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities have a rate 3 times the national average
The MHC assists in building individual and community resilience and capacity to respond to mental health issues and self-care, reduce stigma and build social cohesion
A thriving community will likely deliver a range of benefits beyond the positive health outcomes - economic, cultural, educational and sporting.
Townsville, like other similar locations across Australia has a rising mental health issue within the community. The people of Townsville to date have been vocal about the importance of supporting their fellow residents from a range of different cultures and backgrounds. Townsville has a strong community ethic based on sporting and cultural investment by the population and takes pride in coming together to face challenges head on. This is a group who can lead the way for social and cultural change and improve the understanding and importance of positive mental health and reduce the stigma that surrounds.
Mentally Healthy City Essentials
The Mentally Healthy City (MHC) Essentials document is a collation of 2 approaches: 1 the European Alliance against Depression, and 2 the model adopted by the Mentally Healthy Cities Alliance called I-Circle which includes cities such as Philadelphia and London. The Townsville MHC Essentials is framed against the Australian recognised Step Care Model and is aligned to a Health Activation Approach. The basis for MHC Essentials is to ensure there is a focus on overall wellness for the individual and Townsville community to improve education and personal empowerment for self-care, whilst also reducing the stigma around mental health.
Wheel of Well-being
The Wheel of Well-being (WoW) is a framework that has been developed with communities and organisations to shape new ways to improve well-being. WoW is based on six universal aspects of well-being: body, mind, spirit, people, place, planet and incorporates the five ways of well-being.
WoW is made accessible through a unique, colourful brand and visual style which engages people around the subject of living happier lives. The WoW has been designed to be adaptable and tailored to different groups.
Step Care Model
Whilst we are not a mental health service provider, we are collaborating with existing service providers to assist them in their delivery of best practice mental health frameworks in Townsville, North Queensland. Stepped care is defined as an evidence based, staged system comprising a hierarchy of interventions, from the least to the most intensive, matched to the individual’s needs.
^ Source: Buckby B, Stodden A and Lutkin S (2016) Preventing Suicide in the North: developing capacity, local knowledge and skills.
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