Last week, Natalie Paris and Carla Tinoco from our Regional Health Integration team attended the headspace Northern Territory network meeting. The event was facilitated by headspace, a youth mental health not-for-profit, as an opportunity for networking, discussions, and planning the commissioning and roll out of mental health programs particularly in rural and remote areas of the Northern Territory. The meeting was also attended by our partners in mental health and suicide prevention Anglicare NT and Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (Congress).
The past few years have seen an increase in awareness and support for mental health and suicide prevention. Earlier in the year, the Australian Government had announced more than $43 million in the NT to be invested in programs and services for tackling the issue. Commissioning outreach services and cultural programs is one of our key priorities and an invaluable part of providing mental health and suicide prevention support for people living in remote and rural communities without immediate access to assistance.
One of the biggest hurdles for service providers is getting young people going through mental health problems through their doors. From surveys and community consultations, building engagement is an important first step for many to accessing the services they need to get help. All stakeholders agreed that providing more outreach services would greatly increase the amount of young people attending the centres. Other suggestions included meeting young people outside their homes, parks and on country, and running more activity-based programs outside of the services.
“We need to recognise that outreach is invaluable to the work we do and must continue, even with the waitlist and other demands,” said one regional headspace centre staff.
Ensuring the commissioning of these outreach and cultural programs follow the updated headspace Model Integrity Framework (hMIF) was highlighted during the meeting. The hMIF outlines the core components of running a headspace service. These includes minimum requirements for these spaces to meet while allowing flexibility for innovation, model development, and local capability and capacity. This will ensure centres and agencies develop systems and build workforce capability for the provision of high-quality services for young people.
We look forward to working with headspace, our partners, and other service providers to improving the mental health and wellbeing of Territorians everywhere.