New mental health plan coming for Clarence Valley

MENTAL health resources and opportunities in the Clarence Valley are set to be examined to develop an 'all of community' strategy to address the critical incidents during the past year, and the resulting emotional toll on families, friends and the community.

Robyn Considine, an associate of the Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health, will next week commence consultations with local individuals and groups.

She will be based in the region for several weeks and work towards outlining a strategy for mental health services in the Valley.

Northern NSW Local Health District (NNSW LHD) director of mental health and drug and alcohol, Dr Richard Buss, said the Clarence Valley community had been deeply affected by recent tragic losses.

A number of agencies have come together to discuss this complex issue and consider what could be done to avoid these tragedies.

"I would like to acknowledge the work done by Ms Giane Smajstr, community development officer for Clarence Valley Council, who began coordinating a number of meetings aimed at considering ways of supporting vulnerable individuals and their families by promoting a greater sense of social connectedness within the community," Dr Buss said.

"The initial meetings attracted a range of local agencies from the health, Aboriginal and welfare sectors, and became a platform to invite input from other larger agencies.

Dr Buss said a forum of local agencies held last week had produced open and robust discussion.

A guest at the meeting was Professor David Perkins, director of the Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health, based in Orange.

"The agencies' commitment to work together to find sustainable solutions was evident with highly motivated and committed representatives attending the meeting," Dr Buss said.

"Professor Perkins provided his knowledge and insights into strategies for improving protective factors against individual social isolation and promoting community resilience and support."

Community groups and individuals who wish to contribute to the consultation are invited to contact NNSW LHD Mental Health Services on 6620 2623 to register their interest to meet with Ms Considine.

These appointments will be held in various locations across the Clarence Valley. Ms Considine will also make contact with community groups over the next few weeks.



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