Lake Macquarie City Council has confirmed its commitment to improving mental health outcomes in the community, signing on to a landmark national charter.
Lake Macquarie Mayor, Kay Fraser said the city was joining others in NSW to become a signatory to the National Communications Charter, guiding the way mental health and suicide prevention sectors, government, businesses and the wider community talk about mental ill-health and suicide.
Council successfully moved a motion at the 2022 Local Government NSW Annual Conference encouraging councils across the state to acknowledge mental health as a priority by signing the Charter and implementing its principles.
“Mental ill-health touches almost everyone at some point in their lives, whether it’s directly, or through a friend or family member,” Mayor Fraser said.
“About one in five Australians experience a mental illness each year, and almost half of us experience mental illness at some point in our lives.”
“It’s so important that we as a Council shine a light on this, provide services and activities to address it, and do what we can to reduce the stigma surrounding it.”
The Charter serves as a formal commitment to work together with other stakeholders, and improve practices within Council to better address mental health issues.
Everymind Business Manager, Tina Fox emphasised the importance of workplaces and the community to not just sign the Charter, but action its eight principles.
“Supporting wellbeing and reducing the risk of mental ill-health and suicide is an all-of-community issue, and there is a role to play for every workplace,” Ms Fox said.
“By signing the Charter, you agree to support safe communication around mental ill-health and suicide, and take action to reduce stigma by implementing the principles through workplace processes, structures and activities, using its supporting resources as a guide,” Ms Fox said.
Council’s Manager Community Partnerships, Andrew Bryant said many steps were already in place to improve mental health in Lake Mac, such as facilitating the Let’s Lift Lake Mac wellbeing program, and regular Council-run events for seniors and others in the community at risk of being isolated or marginalised.
“Let’s Lift Lake Mac has helped more than 6,000 people over the past two years, during some very challenging times for many.”
“We’ve also been very proactive addressing the importance of mental health within our own workforce, and have various measures in place for staff to seek out the help they need, when they need it,” he said.
“One of the key steps we’ve taken in recent times is ‘mental health first aid’ training for staff across our departments, helping identify and address mental health issues.”
“But there is always more we can do. Signing on to The Charter will help provide direction to improve our practices and initiatives, and the way we speak about mental health to the community.”
Everymind is a leading institute dedicated to the prevention of mental ill-health and suicide, delivered through best practice programs, communication, policy responses and translational research.
A key program at Everymind is Life in Mind: a knowledge exchange portal providing translated evidence, policy, data and resources in suicide prevention, and host of the National Communications Charter.
To learn more about the National Communications Charter, how to become a signatory and download supporting resources, visit lifeinmind.org.au/the-charter .
To learn more about Everymind and its other business and community programs that support mental health and wellbeing, visit everymind.org.au.