CEO Primary Matters – 6 October

Prioritising mental health

There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenging time for managing our mental health and the mental health of our communities. This World Mental Health Month and Mental Health Day (10 October), the message from Mental Health Australia is simple: “Look after your mental health, Australia”.

During the uncertain times we find ourselves in, prioritising mental health has become more important than ever. This Mental Health Month, I encourage everyone to take steps to make your mental health a priority. If you are looking for ideas for ways to reflect, have fun, and find connection throughout this month and beyond, Mental Health Australia have put together an excellent collection of mental health calendars which you can find here.

On the topic of prioritising mental health, Western Victoria PHN has made our own Employee Assistance Program (EAP) support services available to non-clinical staff working in GP clinics in our region. We recognise that the past 18 months have delivered many obstacles for those in the primary health sector, and we encourage you access this service if you require confidential counselling. You can find out more about this additional mental support here.

Coinciding with Mental Health Month, today (6 October) is headspace day, an important day to encourage more young people to open up about their mental health. This headspace day, headspace is asking us all to share the small steps we take to look after our mental health so young people are aware the everyday actions that can help them navigate life’s challenges and support their mental health and wellbeing.

Please also remember to visit the HealthPathways mental health pages for information and resources on mental health.

Recognising and celebrating carers

Running between 10-16 October, National Carers Week is an opportunity to shine a light on the carers around us and thank them for their essential and valuable contribution in caring for the vulnerable members of our community.

Over 2.65 million Australians provide 42 million hours of unpaid care and support to family members and friends with a disability, mental health condition, chronic condition, terminal illness, an alcohol or drug issue or who are frail aged. The impact of carers is often life-changing, yet so many conduct their work behind the scenes, without recognition or thanks.

With this in mind, we know that carers need care too. If you have a patient who provides care to a loved one and is in need of some extra support themselves, please direct them to Carer Gateway here.

National Safe Work Month

October is also National Safe Work Month, an important time to commit to building a safe and healthy workplace. The theme for 2021 is “think safe. work safe. be safe.” and is a vital reminder that work health and safety procedures require ongoing planning, management and monitoring. This October, Safe Work Australia encourages everyone to have a safety chat over a cuppa to openly discuss health and safety in your workplace and work together to find solutions.

Rowena Clift

Chief Executive Officer