MPHN commits to mental health communication charter

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Murrumbidgee Primary Health Network (MPHN) has signed the National Communications Charter (The Charter) to formally demonstrate its commitment to how the organisation will talk about mental health, wellbeing and suicide. It’s the first Primary Health Network in New South Wales to formally commit to The Charter.

MPHN Board Chair Sue McAlpin said signing The Charter formalises the organisation’s commitment to improving the mental health of local communities.

“The Board is pleased to support the signing of The Charter and further reinforces the organisation’s focus on delivering positive mental health outcomes across the Murrumbidgee,” Ms McAlpin said.

“The guiding principles for how MPHN discusses mental health outlined in The Charter will remind us to communicate respectfully, consistently and safely, promote evidence-based activities, collaborate with other local organisations, government and community groups, and to acknowledge diversity and those with lived experience.

“Living by these principles will help forge a supportive mental health culture, one that is free from stigma and fosters help-seeking behaviours,” she said.

MPHN CEO Melissa Neal said the organisation has a strong commitment to working alongside local communities and collaborating with other service providers to deliver appropriate mental health support.

“Mental health issues do not discriminate, and we know that, sadly, here in the Murrumbidgee we have higher than state average suicide rates,” Ms Neal said.

“At the national level, one in five Australians will experience a mental illness and communicating appropriately and in a coordinated way, as guided by The Charter, will help support our communities.  

“We’re proud to already be doing some of the practical ideas outlined in The Charter, including supporting awareness days, collaborating with other local organisations, using safe language and imagery, promoting evidence-based programs, services and treatments, and facilitating education opportunities like our Question. Persaude. Refer. (QPR) training.

“I would encourage other local organisations working in the mental health space, and indeed all local businesses, government and community groups to sign The Charter to demonstrate your commitment and support of working towards positive mental health and wellbeing for your communities,” she said.

Lifespan Murrumbidgee Suicide Prevention Manager Jenna Roberts said one training opportunity available for free to all people living in the Murrumbidgee is Question. Persuade. Refer. (QPR).

“QPR training is a one hour online community capacity building program providing participants with knowledge and skills to identify warning signs, the confidence to talk to them about their suicidal thoughts and to help them connect with professional care,” Ms Roberts said.

“Mental health issues will impact all of us at some stage in our lives, maybe not directly, but through a family member, friend or work colleague. We can make a difference to our lives and the lives of others, maybe it’s as simple as starting a conversation and sharing a journey.

“Whether you work in a health service, school or other type of business, or are an individual wanting to support your loved ones or colleagues, QPR training will help you feel confident to play your role in preventing suicides and I would encourage everyone to participate,” she said.

Everymind, the organisation who led the redevelopment and implementation of The National Communications Charter, Project Lead (Suicide Prevention) Simon Pont congratulated MPHN on making a formal commitment to mental health and suicide prevention.

“Murrumbidgee PHN’s support of the National Communications Charter serves as a commitment to work together, developing processes for collaboration and incorporating coordinated and consistent messaging, about mental health and suicide prevention,” Mr Pont said.

The National Communications Charter is hosted on the Life in Mind national suicide prevention website. For more information about The Charter visit www.lifeinmindaustralia.com.au.

For more information about the National Communications Charter visit www.lifeinmindaustralia.com.au.

Anyone who is experiencing a mental health emergency (themselves or others) should call access line 1800 800 944, Lifeline 13 11 14 or call 000.

Monica McInnes