Community grants supporting mental health in drought areas now available

Today, Murrumbidgee Primary Health Network (MPHN) launched the Murrumbidgee Community Grants for activities to support communities living with the impacts of drought with a focus on mental health and wellbeing.

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The grants have been made possible with funding from the Australian Government’s ‘Empowering Communities’ initiative allowing local communities to tailor mental health responses to their own needs.

MPHN CEO said the Murrumbidgee Community Grants have been developed in consultation with a recently formed Empowering Communities Steering Committee, and keeping the application process simple and easy has been key.

 “We know the impacts of drought extend beyond farmers and their families in rural communities and our committee members made it clear grants should be easy to apply for. So we have developed a simple application form and are committed to making quick decisions once submitted,” Ms Neal said.

“There will be three levels of funding available which could be used to support wellbeing and mental health in our communities. It could be as simple as a community barbecue to connect people, a regular activity like exercise or yoga classes, or community education or workshops around managing stress or anxiety.

“Businesses might also consider upskilling their workforce on topics like mental health first aid, or look to implement some form evidence-based training to help identify warning signs around mental health and suicide.

“Small rural communities are always very resourceful and innovative when it comes to supporting each other and we are really looking forward to seeing what community-led activities are developed to access these grants.

Empowering Communities Steering Committee member and volunteer community mental health advocate from Stockinbingal, John Harper said the heart of grants is about supporting a whole of community approach to mental health and suicide prevention.

“These grants encourage and empower local rural communities to look for proactive approaches to mental health support suicide prevention,” Mr Harper said.

“It really is part of a holistic strategy for addressing mental health in our local communities who are feeling the impacts of drought and I would expect activities receiving grants will help build and strengthen relationships within communities as well.

“I congratulate MPHN for working hard to get these grants off the ground quickly and committing to a simple application process. I definitely encourage all community groups, councils and businesses to develop a suitable activity and apply for funding,” he said.

If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health emergency should call the Mental Health Line 1800 011 511, Lifeline 13 11 14 or call 000. Or to access the Head to Health website.

For more information about the Murrumbidgee Community Grants visit click here.

Monica McInnes