Message from the CEO - December 2022

Mark Hartigan

It has been yet another challenging year for many of us – professionally and personally. The effects of COVID-19 have continued to change the way we do business and many aspects of the way we live our lives. Living in uncertain times, combined with the increasing cost of living and consecutive interest rate rises has resulted in many of us feeling stressed or anxious. Country SA PHN is acutely aware of the challenges that face many of our country South Australian communities.

For those wanting advice and or are seeking help, a new initiative for country South Australia is the  Head to Health Phone Service which is available for adults to make a free call, on 1800 595 212 for advice and connection to the local mental health service or support that is right for you.

We also continue to fund and support Regional Access – free professional counselling for regional South Australians 24 hours a day, seven days a week for people 15 years and older living or working in regional South Australia – online or by calling 1300 032 186.

Country SA PHN is assisting our River Murray communities by contributing funding to support the State Government’s River Murray Flood Mental Health Support. We are thinking of all of those affected by the rising River Murray at this time.

As a society we are much more aware of the impacts of mental health and how they can affect individuals and communities. At Country SA PHN we continue to support conversations about our mental health. There are things we can all do as individuals to help each other and things we can do at a broader organisational level to empower people and communities to take charge of their lives and build resilient, connected communities.

There are many initiatives we have supported throughout the year to assist conversations including, but certainly not limited to, the We Are Men digital campaign – harnessing the power of story-telling to destigmatise men’s mental health, the Connectivity and Collaboration Conference on the Lower Eyre Peninsula, Roses in the Ocean – remembering those who we have lost to suicide, Mates in Construction SA general awareness training, Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) training – three simple steps anyone can learn to help save a life from suicide, the Healing Circles Day Centre in Port Lincoln – supporting alcohol and other drug misuse and positive well-being and wellness recovery.

Young country South Australians continue to receive outstanding mental health and wellbeing support from regional headspace centres. Shine SA delivers Gender Connect Country SA to help professionals and community members to support transgender, gender diverse or gender questioning people. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities’ and our aged care mental health support programs continue to assist throughout regional and remote parts of our states.

We also recognise the incredible role our primary care workforce is providing our communities through these challenging times. Country SA PHN is supporting General Practitioners through the Investing in Doctors' Health program with initiatives such as the 24-hour, seven day a week phone support line 8366 0250 for urgent and non-urgent support and education and training.  

There are also many small community capacity building wellbeing initiatives facilitating community connection that we support throughout the year such as theatre workshops, public events, youth activities, murals, arts and crafts and other well-being events.

We also recognise the link between our mental, physical, and emotional health. Funding programs such as Healthy Habits that encourages health at every size, empowers people and boosts their self-esteem and in turn, their mental health. In fact, we recognise that physical conditions also affect our mental health and well-being. In this way, access to all our programs that assist people to live a healthy and active life, enhances people’s well-being.

By looking after and empowering one another we can create stronger rural communities and help one another. We all have a story to share and a shoulder to lean on. Let’s reach out this Christmas and holiday season and show each other empathy and kindness. From all of us at Country SA PHN I wish you a relaxing and enjoyable Christmas and a happy and fulfilling 2023.

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