Sometimes all it takes is a conversation. A new project in Bendigo aims to talk with community members about their mental health and help link them with wellbeing services in the area.
With the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic still felt throughout Australia, the Assisting Communities through Direct Connection (ACDC) project is going door-to-door to check in with locals.
The Bendigo site is one of 20 being run around Australia by Community Mental Health Australia (CMHA).
“Unfortunately for many reasons people do not want to talk about or even think about their mental health,” says CEO of Community Mental Health Australia, Bill Gye.
“People may prefer to tough it out, hide it from others, or avoid the stigma. The ACDC Project is going directly to households in Australia to engage them in conversation about these important issues.”
CMHA is working with a local service provider, Stride Mental Health, to doorknock in White Hills and North Bendigo from November 2021 to March 2022.
The ACDC Project are not typical door knockers. They make contact via friendly ‘People Connectors’ who let people know about the free services available and deliver an information pack with a fridge magnet and brochures.
The local services included in the information packs are easily accessible and relevant to the Bendigo community.
ACDC Project People Connector, Marc Beard, believes the project will make a difference to the community.
“I think the project will help Bendigo in a big way. It will hopefully get people talking about their wellbeing and increase their knowledge about what is out there for support.”
The other aim of the ACDC Project is to gather feedback on any service gaps, so that improvements can be made by local, state, and federal governments.
For each of the communities visited throughout Australia, the ACDC Project will generate data and information about the reasons why people do not access support from local services.
Sharon Mitchell, an ACDC Project People Connector, says the doorknocking has been going well so far.
“I have been overwhelmed by the great response we have received from the Bendigo community and the positivity they have shown toward the project.”
“So many people have been happy to engage with us. We have heard some amazing stories
and some heart-wrenching ones.”
The findings of the ACDC Project evaluation report will contribute to discussions about funding for community-managed mental health services in Australia, and how the mental health support needs of people in communities are delivered.
It will also evaluate how effective a proactive approach is in reaching, engaging, and resourcing people to connect with services.
“The ACDC Project aims to address a serious problem with mental health services in Australia. Often, people only look for or receive support when they are in crisis.”
“We must be much more proactive connecting and communicating with people about the importance of wellbeing. Prevention and early intervention are far more effective than dealing with people in crisis,” says Bill Gye.
The ACDC project provides this important information to householders of all educational, cultural and language backgrounds to promote access to mental health, social and emotional wellbeing support.
If the householder is not home a card is left in their letterbox with contact details so they can ask the People Connectors to come back.
The ACDC Project is funded by the Department of Social Services.
For more information about The ACDC Project go to: www.acdc.org.au
For more information about our local service provider Stride go to: www.stride.com.au