Reaching out to help isolated communities ‘Stay on Track’

Today at The Globe Hotel, Deniliquin, the ‘Stay on Track’ initiative was launched, which provides information and support for those who may be having thoughts of suicide or friends who have noticed a mate is ‘just not the same’. 

The campaign will see drink coasters and posters placed in licensed venues and petrol stations across Wagga Wagga, Griffith, Young, Hay and Deniliquin, making suicide prevention information and resources readily available to those who may need support.

Murrumbidgee Primary Health Network (MPHN) CEO Melissa Neal said the initiative had been made possible as part of the $1.5 million federally funded Murrumbidgee Suicide Prevention Program, a region-wide program delivered by Wellways.

“Building on The Way Back Support Service that was launched with Wellways earlier this year, Stay on Track represents the next phase of the program and seeks to increase community awareness, and encourage conversations, so that people are more comfortable in seeking help,” Ms Neal said.

Sussan Ley Member for Farrer said that “The numbers say we still need to tackle stigma around depression, and programs like ‘stay on track’ help you know who to contact if you think someone needs help.  Hopefully, one day, checking up on each other’s mental ‘wellness’ will be as natural as having a yarn at the local pub. Raising the subject may not feel comfortable, but it’s a whole lot harder saying ‘I wish I had done something’ later on.”

“We want to start up conversations about mental health and we know pubs – particularly in rural areas – are gathering places for many in the community, including those who at other times may live away from home and work in isolation,” Zoe Evans, Wellways Regional Manager for Murrumbidgee, said.

“Suicide, mental wellbeing and life challenges can impact anyone at any time. No one is immune to challenging life situations – mental health does not discriminate despite our diverse communities,” Ms Evans said.

In 2015 suicide claimed 33 lives in the Murrumbidgee area alone, according to HealthStats NSW. That year the region had about 15 suicides per 100,000 people, compared to the NSW figure of about 10 per 100,000.

Photo: MPHN CEO Melissa Neal and Wellways Regional Manager for Murrumbidgee Zoe Evans

Cristy Houghton