8 May 2023

Powerful stories helping to reduce stigma around mental health in the Murrumbidgee

| Daniel Burdon
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The Murrumbidgee Primary Health Network has launched a new campaign to reduce the stigma around mental health. Photo: Region.

People across the Murrumbidgee are being encouraged to connect to local mental health services when needed, as part of a new campaign that puts stories at the centre of the healing process.

The campaign, named Connect, Your Way, was launched by the Murrumbidgee Primary Health Network last week, and was based on extensive consultations including an in-depth series of interviews with people with lived experience of mental health issues.

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MPHN chief executive officer Melissa Neal said it had taken almost a year to develop and had involved many local voices.

She said it was important to the health network that the campaign resonated with the people it was trying to reach, and the consultations had been a critical part of the process.

“We conducted two rounds of consultation activities last year, including convening an advisory panel, conducting in-depth interviews and focus group sessions across the Murrumbidgee,” she said.

“We were able to connect with almost 50 people who either have a lived or living experience of mental health, or a carer, or people working in mental health or representing one of the eight population groups we know don’t always connect to mental health supports.”

As part of the campaign, the network has launched a new website with support and resource information and a series of stories from local people.

Ms Neal said five people would be the public faces of the campaign: Stina Constantine, Bruce Rollins, Aunty Isabel Reid, Owen Dufty and Holly Conroy.

“We are very proud of these storytellers and this campaign and know this will go a long way to helping people in our communities to seek help and to continue to reduce stigma about reaching for support,” she said.

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Chair of the network’s board, Dr Jodi Culbert, said storytelling was a powerful and easy way to connect “so they know they aren’t alone”.

“The diversity in the five stories as part of this campaign is what I’m really excited about,” Dr Culbert said.

“Of course, all mental health journeys are unique, but the ways each of these courageous storytellers connected to help and resources are all very different and shows how there are a range of ways to seek support.”

Dr Culbert said she wanted to acknowledge the bravery and vulnerability of Stina, Bruce, Aunty Isabel, Owen and Holly and thank them for fearlessly sharing “just a snippet of their mental health journey in an effort to help others”.

“It really is admirable.”

For more information, visit www.mphn.org.au/connect.

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