Sometimes all it takes is a conversation.
A new project in Burnie 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 Burnie 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 CMHA, 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 local service provider, Wellways, to doorknock in Burnie and Upper Burnie from December 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 Burnie community.
ACDC Project Line Manager, Kelli Radford, believes Wellways are uniquely equipped to help Burnie locals.
“We are long established in Burnie. We see ourselves as very much part of the community. The ACDC Project provides a different approach that may help to engage with some of the most disadvantaged and isolated people in our community.”
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.
Kristy Heald, an ACDC Project People Connector, hopes that the Project will link people with the support they need.
“After working in the Family Support area for many years it quickly became apparent that there are many mental health conditions that go undiagnosed or untreated. This is an area that I am very passionate about, helping to create change and knowledge.”
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,” says Bill Gye.
“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.”
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.
For more information go to: https://www.acdc.org.au/
The ACDC Project is funded by the Department of Social Services.