Members of Clarence Youth Action and Our Healthy Clarence with Chris Gulaptis and Premier Gladys Berejiklian.
Members of Clarence Youth Action and Our Healthy Clarence with Chris Gulaptis and Premier Gladys Berejiklian. Caitlan Charles

Our Healthy Clarence a model for well-being

AFTER working to improve the mental health and well-being of the Clarence Valley, the model forged by Our Healthy Clarence could soon be adopted and tailored for other rural communities facing similar challenges with community-wide mental health.

A research paper published recently by the University of Newcastle highlights the process and achievements of the initiative called 'Our Healthy Clarence' and the benefits of a community-driven approach to suicide prevention and well-being.

"In 2015-2016, the Clarence Valley in Northern New South Wales, Australia, experienced an unexpectedly high number of deaths by suicide, and the resulting distress was exacerbated by unhelpful press coverage,” the abstract for the paper Our Healthy Clarence: A Community-Driven Wellbeing Initiative states.

"The local response was to adopt a community-wide positive mental health and well-being initiative.

"Our Healthy Clarence was established following community consultation, including forums, interviews, surveys and workshops. It adopted a strengths-based approach to suicide prevention, encompassing positive health promotion, primary and secondary prevention activities, advocacy, and cross-sectoral collaboration.”

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Director of the Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health Professor David Perkins said there was good evidence that taking a multi-agency and community approach to support the mental health and well-being of a community can have positive results.

"Our Healthy Clarence has created a group of stakeholders that have changed the narrative about mental health and well-being in the Clarence Valley and they now have the capacity to address further issues as they arise,” Prof Perkins said.

"This initiative could help and support other communities faced with similar challenges provided the initiatives are tailored to the local communities' needs and builds on their strengths to ensure they are relevant and sustainable.”

Prof Perkins said the factors that contribute to Our Healthy Clarence's successful implementation included a collective commitment to mental health and well-being, clarity of purpose, leadership support from key local partners, a paid co-ordinator and inclusive and transparent governance.



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