Sometimes all it takes is a conversation.
A new project in Toowoomba aims to talk with community members about their mental health and help link them with wellbeing services in their area.
With the COVID-19 pandemic still affecting Australians, the Assisting Communities through Direct Connection (ACDC) project is going door-to-door to check in with locals.
The ACDC Project, run by Community Mental Health Australia (CMHA), is visiting over 20 sites in Australia to improve community wellbeing and collect important data.
“Unfortunately for many reasons people do not want to talk about or even think about their mental health,” says CEO of CMHA, Bill Gye.
“People may prefer to tough it out, hide it from others, or avoid the stigma. The ACDC Project is going directly to households in Australia to engage them in conversation about these important issues.”
CMHA are working with local service provider, Momentum Mental Health, to doorknock in Harristown and Kearneys from March to June 2022.
The ACDC Project are not typical door knockers. They make contact via friendly ‘People Connectors’ who let people know about the free services available and deliver an information pack with a fridge magnet and brochures.
People Connector Ashi Tsering Yanzom says the project is important to her as a Toowoomba local.
“I care about the community I live in and I’m curious to know more. There seem to be many service providers in the area, but I wonder how these services can better work together in channeling the resources we do have.”
The other aim of the ACDC Project is to gather feedback on any service gaps so that improvements can be made by local, state, and federal governments.
ACDC Project People Connector, Brett Jones, says he is particularly interested to hear from the large migrant and refugee community in Toowoomba.
“One of the best things about being a People Connector is meeting new and different householders every day, we have been especially welcomed by householders from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) backgrounds.
“I hope that the Project can connect those in need with a helping hand up,” says Brett.
For each of the communities visited throughout Australia, the ACDC Project will generate data and information about the reasons why people do not access support from local services.
“This data is coming directly from the households and will reveal the demographics of the community, their social and emotional wellbeing and the gaps of services and supports. Accordingly, there can be strategic planning to improve resources for the future,” says Ashi.
The findings of the ACDC Project evaluation report will contribute to discussions about funding for community managed mental health services in Australia, and how the mental health support needs of people in communities are delivered.
It will also evaluate how effective a proactive approach is in reaching, engaging, and resourcing people to connect with services.
“The ACDC Project aims to address a serious problem with mental health services in Australia. Often, people only look for or receive support when they are in crisis. We must be much more proactive connecting and communicating with people about the importance of wellbeing. Prevention and early intervention are far more effective than dealing with people in crisis,” says Bill Gye.
The ACDC project provides this important information to householders of all educational, cultural and language backgrounds to promote access to mental health, social and emotional wellbeing support.
If the householder is not home a card is left in their letterbox with contact details so they can ask the People Connectors to come back.
For more information go to www.acdc.org.au
The ACDC Project is funded by the Department of Social Services.