During Mental Health Week, SANE Australia has teamed up with the ABC for its dedicated Mental As initiative. The ABC is encouraging people who ‘feel like a chat’ to go to the SANE Forums to continue the conversations the ABC starts.
The SANE forums are used both by people living with mental illness and by family and other carers from all around Australia.
‘With almost half of the Australian population likely to be affected by mental illness during their life, we need to increase people’s understanding of mental illness and reduce the stigma that stops people from getting help in the first place,‘ says Jack Heath, CEO of SANE Australia.
'The online forums are a game-changer in mental health. When people realise they are no longer alone, and feel connected, this increases their hope for a better life.
'By unleashing the power of peer to peer support, tens of thousands of people around Australia are now receiving helpful information, advice, and mutual support from others who understand exactly what they are going through. Importantly, this complements and supports existing one-to-one services provided by mental health professionals,' Heath adds.
To date, over 60,000 individuals have viewed the SANE forums nationally with around 16,000 of these coming from rural and regional Australia where people only access services at a third the rate of those in the major urban centres.
‘It’s particularly important for people in rural and regional areas to get the help and support they need as early as possible to sustain their mental health and prevent problems in the future. However this isn’t always possible because of social isolation and a lack of understanding,’ explains Heath.
A key factor in the success of the service has been the partnership model used, whereby the forums are made available within the websites of more than 25 leading mental health organisations around Australia.
The SANE Forums are funded by the Australian Government and the Colonial Foundation.www.saneforums.org