Thursday, June 29, 2017
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Strong minds build strong communities

There is a mental health service operating in Narrandera – and it’s free.
16 June 2017

There is a mental health service operating in Narrandera – and it’s free.
The Strong Minds program is funded through the Murrumbidgee Primary Health Network. 
“It is a counselling service, and it’s free,” said Executive Manager of Health Services at Marathon Health Bryan Hoolahan.
“You have to go to a GP first and get a referral. It’s usually for short term issues, things that can be improved in ten sessions. We have travelling clinicians in the smaller towns and they operate out of the GPs office, so there’s a bit of privacy there. No one has to know what you’re there for.”
This week is Men’s Health Week and there is no better time to talk about some of the health difficulties that men face.
 Given that men are three times more likely to commit suicide than women, and that people living in rural areas are twice as likely to die by suicide than their city counterparts, it is vital for people to be aware of the services available.
Mr Hoolahan said the reasons for rural over-representation in suicide statistics were complex.
“I think there’s a rural stoicism in the population; particularly young men are very difficult to engage. There’s other issues to do with social isolation, even if you can travel to services. All of that makes it a real challenge to treat people in rural areas,” Mr Hoolahan said.
“It’s very difficult with mental health. There is still a stigma, although I think BeyondBlue and the Black Dog Institute have done a lot towards normalising mental illness.”
There is a tendency towards denouncing mental health issues as an increasing epidemic, but mental health issues are not new. 
Hippocrates wrote about treating soldiers who had ‘battle dreams’ or what we now call post-traumatic stress disorder; Hans Christian Anderson, Charles Dickens and Vincent Van Gogh all battled with depression.
What has changed is our ability to recognise mental health problems and treat them. 
Mr Hoolahan said that people should never delay seeking treatment.
“With a physical illness there’s usually a great deal of pain, so people know to go and get help. People don’t always know when to get help with mental health, but the sooner you get help, the better.
“That can be difficult for young people, because of isolation.
“Mental health is a good area to work in, there’s always hope. How you feel today is not how you need to feel tomorrow.”
If you are experiencing any mental health difficulties, see a GP for a referral to the Strong Minds program. If you need more immediate help, the following help lines are available 24 hours a day. 
• Access Line: 1800 800 944
• Mental Health Line: 1800 011 511
• Lifeline: 13 11 14
• Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467
• Kids Helpline 1800 551 800
In an emergency, call 000.

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