Glenelg Shire

Champion Community – Recognising the Glenelg Shire for their work and commitment to improving mental health

For the Glenelg Shire, being recognised as a Mental Health First Aid Champion Community is an acknowledgment of the work and sustained effort of local community representatives to successfully embed the Live4Life model and Mental Health First Aid  (MHFA ) training into local education providers, secondary schools, and the wider Glenelg Shire community.

The Mental Health First Aid Champion Communities Program supports and recognises communities who invest in developing mental health first aid skills within their local community setting in a planned, integrated, and sustainable way. The program promotes partnerships between Local Councils, organisations, and groups and the ‘Live4Life model’ is a great example of the community-based collaboration the Champion Communities Program actively looks to acknowledge and foster.

“Being recognised as a Champion Community helps us to further promote Mental Health First Aid training and reach more of the community to engage in the training

Maddy McKinna, Youth Development Officer, Glenelg Shire

Glenelg Shire’s Mental Health First Aid journey first began in 2017, with the implementation of the Live4Life mental health education and youth suicide prevention model, designed specifically for rural and regional communities. A registered health promotion charity, Live4Life focuses on supporting and educating young people through mental health first aid skills and training. 

The rates of mental health problems and suicide are higher in regional areas and tend to be increasing (Victorian DHHS 2016). In the Glenelg Shire the suicide rate for males is 31% higher than the Victorian average. In 2014, young people from the shire, reported that they did not feel connected and or safe in their schools (Victorian average 85%, Glenelg 75.2%), and almost double the proportion of children were reported to have emotional symptoms (Victorian average 5.7%, Glenelg 9.6%).  All of which were contributing reasons that prompted the Glenelg Shire community to take action.

The Live4Life model looks to tackle this head-on by putting young people, and the adults in their lives, at the centre of their own mental health support network. Through Youth and Teen Mental Health First Aid training they become equipped with the skills and knowledge to help those around them. 

Live4Life is a strategic and effective way of building resilient young people and communities as it is an upstream model of education and prevention that focuses on ‘wrapping’ protective factors around young people.

Cathryn Walder 

Strengthening community action:

The Live4Life Glenelg partnership is led by the Glenelg Shire Council and includes representatives from all local secondary schools, Portland District Health, Victoria Police, Headspace Portland, Brophy Family and Youth Services, Beyond the Bell, Local Learning and Employment Network and Youth Affairs Council Victoria. 

Over the last five years the partnership has worked to embed MHFA training into schools and the local community through:

  1. Identifying and training local community members to become Youth and Teen Mental Health First Aid Instructors.
  2. Delivering Youth MHFA to teachers, parents, carers, and community leaders; and
  3. Delivering Teen MHFA courses to all Year 8 and Years 10-11 students across schools in the local community.

“We continue to hear stories from our communities of when MHFA training has saved a young person’s life. Where young people, parents and teachers have been able to utilise their training to support someone in crisis”. Maddy McKinna, Youth Development Officer, Glenelg Shire.

From its introduction in in 2017 through to the end of 2020, around 10% of the Glenelg Shire community have been trained in Mental Health First Aid, including over 200 adults and 1,300 young people.

MHFA training is being delivered by instructors from within the Glenelg Shire, across a wide range of roles, experience, and backgrounds. Instructors include School Nurses, School Psychologists, Youth Officers, Health Promotion Officers, Partnership Brokers, and other community-based workers who deliver training as part of their roles. 

Recognising the impact:

Each year the Glenelg Live4Life partnership group complete an Annual Review and Reflection Session. This helps improve implementation and helps inform the Action Plan and delivery timelines.  Along with the localised review processes both Glenelg Shire and Benalla Rural City have participated in 3 years of independent evaluation, which has also informed the implementation of mental health education in the community.

The independent evaluation that was conducted throughout 2018-2019 found that:

  • 1 in 4 senior students go on to seek support.
  • More than 8 in 10 young people reported having conversations about mental health: and
  • Qualitative results suggest increased empathy and kindness among students – including 1 in 10 students seeking mental health support for a peer.

The adults engaged in the program have also seen marked results with 82% of adults far more confident to support a young person with a mental health need (82% feel confident after training, up from 32% pre training).

Looking to the future:

Since its introduction in 2017, the Live4Life Glenelg partnership has funded the model’s implementation. Recently a fundraising working group has been established to secure corporate sponsors to ensure the ongoing rollout and success of the program. One major corporate partner has already been confirmed, providing funding from 2022-2024.

Additional income streams through corporate sponsors ensures that the Glenelg Live4Life partnership can focus on training and embedding local MHFA Instructors to create a sustainable community-based support network.

Mental Health First Aid congratulate the Glenelg Shire Council on their Champion Community status and the work they have done and continue to do, to help promote and foster early intervention, to improve mental health literacy and to proactively reduce stigma and increase community resilience and supports.

To learn more about the Glenelg Shire you can visit their website here.
Alternatively, please refer to their social media for further information:

LinkedIn: @glenelgsc  |  Facebook: @glenelgshire  |  Instagram: @glenelgshire

To learn more about Youth Live4Life you can visit their website here

Alternatively, please refer to their social media for further information:

LinkedIn- @youthlive4life  |   Facebook – @YouthLive4Life  |  Instagram – @youthlive4life

Find out more about the Champion Communities Program here

If you are interested in recognising your community’s commitment to MHFA training through the Champion Communities Program, please contact the MHFA Australia Community Engagement Team:

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