The community has been asked to pitch in idea on how they would like to support mental health during drought.
The Empowering our Communities scheme is offering grants of up to $50,000 for any community events or workshop ideas, complimentary lifestyle and health initiatives or community education programs that will help strengthen support networks in regional communities.
The only criteria required to get a grant is that the event or idea either builds community resilience and helps reduce mental health stigma, improves physical or mental health, or educates people in relation to managing stress, anxiety and depression.
The program is part of the Federal Government’s Drought Assistance Package, with $500,000 available in the Hunter New England Primary Health Network (PHN).
PHN CEO Richard Nankervis said the ideas are already flooding in since the scheme went live on Monday.
“We have already had ideas come in from Tamworth, Gunnedah, Tenterfield and Glen Innes – as long as they meet the criteria they will be funded,” he said.
“We are aiming to have a turnaround of ten business days from receiving the application to processing it, and there is no cut off date – we want to hand this funding out as soon as possible.”
As part of the same program an online mental health support information hub has been set up on the PHN’s Peoplebank website.
The website provides information on available support for local people, as well as drought specific referral pathways for local clinicians and health workers.
“Access to services was a high priority for those who we have spoken to so we have removed the need for a GP referral to access the free local mental health services that we fund, making access easier,” Mr Nankervis said.
The PHN is also subsidising QPR (Question, Persuade, and Refer) training - a short course designed to help people recognise the warning signs of a suicide crisis and how to respond in an emergency mental health situation.
To apply for a grant head to the Hunter New England Central Coast PHN website.