Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal

Huon Valley council acknowledges Traditional Custodians of the South East Nation, the Melukerdee people of the Huon River and the Lyluequonny people of the Far South.

Following a number of suicides in the Huon Valley in southwest Tasmania, the community indicated an interest in learning more about mental health and how to best support a family member, friend or colleague who may be struggling with their mental health.

With the help of a $9,255 grant through the In a Good Place program, supported by CCI Giving, the Mental Health Community Response project was initiated. Its goal was to build capacity in the Huon Valley to respond to and prevent suicide and promote mental health through the delivery of mental health first aid training to community members and groups. By providing the tools, community members could better understand and support members of the local community who may be self-harming or suicidal.

The Huon Valley Council took on a project coordination role, working closely with the Rural Alive and Well program, to reduce the stigma of suicide by promoting events widely across the community, encouraging conversations about mental health. They also ran three 12-hour Mental Health First Aid programs across some of the smaller communities in the Huon Valley, as well as delivering two self-injury focused workshops to community members struggling to support family members who self-harm.

The Huon Valley Council’s contribution was significant, as participants appreciated being able to complete the training at an affordable cost and within their own local community. COVID posed several challenges, with the delivery of training delayed, as it was agreed that face-to-face sessions were important, given the nature of the training.

Communities and individuals in the Huon Valley are now better equipped to support each other, their community, family members and colleagues dealing with serious mental health issues such as self-harm or suicidal ideation. Community networks were built and reinforced by the project. At the completion of the project, participants had the confidence and resilience to share stories and have conversations in a secure and inclusive environment, to further reduce barriers associated with discussing mental health and suicide.

For more inspiring stories like this, head to our FY 2021/22 Annual Review.