After hours mental health, drug and alcohol support

A new initiative recently launched across the Murrumbidgee is aimed at increasing awareness of support for mental health, drug and alcohol concerns in the region – particularly after hours support.

The awareness campaign was developed jointly by Murrumbidgee Primary Health Network (MPHN), Murrumbidgee Local Health District (MLHD) and the Murrumbidgee Mental Health, Drug and Alcohol Alliance.

MPHN Acting CEO, Melissa Neal, said it is an extensive, television, radio and social media campaign to assist people across the Murrumbidgee to find help in a time of crisis, especially when a crisis arises outside of normal business hours.

“Finding services in our region that are available outside of the traditional nine to five can sometimes be confusing. This campaign is specifically aimed at raising awareness and supporting people to find out what help is available for them outside of normal business hours”, Mrs Neal said.

Working together, the Alliance and MPHN commissioned Juntos Marketing to engage with the community and conduct research across the region. Discussion groups, phone interviews and a consumer reference panel helped to create and develop a strategy and plan.

Communication tools have been developed including a television and radio commercial, social media content, posters and postcards that carry a single, powerful message – You are not alone, help is available, and anyone can reach out, at any time.

The theme is warm, inclusive and encouraging. It emphasises that tough times can happen to anyone but that nobody should feel alone.

The research identified a key strength in the Murrumbidgee region – the growing willingness and commitment by the community to talk about and address mental health, suicide, alcohol and other drug concerns.

“This campaign will increase awareness of support and contribute to better public knowledge and understanding”, Mrs Neal said. “It means that people with lived experience, families and carers can now more easily find practical information and advice, especially after hours.”

The campaign urges people to talk to someone they can trust, visit their GP, call Accessline 1800 800 944 or Lifeline 13 11 14, and directs them to the new website for more information.

The 12-week campaign has commenced in the Murrumbidgee on all three television networks, the radio and social media; with posters and postcards available from MPHN.

Cristy Houghton