Kia ora koutou
At the International Initiative for Mental Health Leadership (IIMHL) this year, the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health hosted a two-day match in Toronto, Canada.
The theme was "Population Mental Health Promotion: Building Capacity for Mental Health Promotion Across Sectors". The network meeting was held in Washington DC.
(Note: The 2021 IIMHL and IIDL Leadership Exchange will be held across Aotearoa and Australia. The matches will be held across the two countries with the two-day network meeting held in Christchurch at Te Pae Convention Centre. The Mental Health Foundation will likely have a role, perhaps hosting a match on mental health promotion).
Overall I think Aotearoa/New Zealand is leading in many areas and most people from around the world look to the Wellbeing Budget and new Mental Health and Wellbeing approach as "the" example and beacon of hope. People are looking to see how it works out.
It was clear to me that we are doing better than most in the following areas.
There was one great example of a good approach to lived experience where one Texas tertiary teaching facility has created a system of acknowledging lived experience as equivalent to qualifications up to masters level.
The University of Texas at San Antonio - The Hogg Foundation for Mental Health awards up to five $5,000 scholarships annually to graduate social work students in Texas who plan to provide mental health services after graduation. The scholarship programme was created in 1956 by Houston philanthropist Ima Hogg to attract students to mental health careers.
While New Zealand has a long way to go on all of these fronts, it was good to be reminded that we have good opportunities here in Aotearoa.
The match on mental health promotion was run by The Public Health Agency of Canada and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and was held in Toronto, Canada.
There were some good train the trainer models of influencing Early Childhood Education (ECE) workers around mental health and wellbeing within their practice using the “tpitos” model – maybe something to consider down the track as we expand our schools focus.
A major national programme is about to be launched by Public Health England, “Every Mind Matters”. There will be some good sharing with us as they progress this – the fact that it has gained Government support in England adds to our case for a national wellbeing programme in Australia and New Zealand.
Canadian Public Health Authority developed a Foundations of Public Mental Health curriculum and an e-learning module that could be accessed.
Canadian/ Ontario Public Health have produced an on-line Evidence Exchange Network for those working in MH public health, which we will be linked into.
Poppy Jaman was an excellent speaker at the main conference. Poppy came from the City Mental Health Alliance (CMHA) in England. She was a champion of the 5 Ways to Wellbeing in the workplace and is also a person with her own lived experience of mental distress.
City Mental Health Alliance has developed partnerships with some major multi-national businesses such as BP and these companies are rolling out workplace wellbeing programmes worldwide. They will be bringing the CMHA programme to their Australia branches this year and may bring it to any offices of their companies in New Zealand.
The New Zealand Ministry of Health is keen to facilitate a working relationship between the Mental Health Foundation and City Mental Health Alliance.
The team from Public Health England shared that the London School of Economics has analysis that shows positive returns on investing in Bullying Reductions within four years and Workplace Wellbeing within one year.
Sweden has a tool known as the “Prevention Index” to assess policy and programme impacts on public health.
Overall I think the Mental Health Foundation perspectives on suicide prevention were strongly supported by the information shared.
People were very interested in our conceptual frameworks and linking of suicide prevention with wider wellbeing and mental health promotion – there were some good examples and insights to take away.
There was a brilliant young indigenous woman who is also from the LGBTI community who is part of the Thunderbird Partnership Foundation of Canada – she talked about the core of their work being to create Hope, Belonging, Meaning and Purpose. Culture is obviously key and “language is key to culture and identity – it tells us who we are” (her words).
“The Thunderbird Partnership Foundation works with First Nations communities. Our top priority is developing a continuum of care that would be available to all Indigenous people in Canada, using the Honouring Our Strengths document as a framework.”
It occurred to me that the creation of Hope, Belonging, Meaning and Purpose is a good summary of what mental wellbeing is about for everyone and what Mental Health Foundation's work aims to achieve
Suicide is a worldwide issue and no country or programme has THE answer.
There was a strong theme of needing to continue to collaborate and learn from one another
The LifeSpan approach and the work of Dr Helen Christenson from the Black Dog Institute in Australia were referenced several times.
The following examples were shared:
This plan has been extended to 2030. It has four priorities for all countries. These have informed the positions taken by the Mental Health Foundation:
In many ways, our equivalent organisation in America described three priorities:
They talked about the USA having:
There are some important things for us to think about in what the Wellbeing Foundation are saying.
A couple of inspiring and thought-provoking comments that I continue to ponder on:
“People will forget what you say, forget what you do, but they will remember the way you make them feel” (Maya Angelou).
The City Mental Health Alliance: “Where strong relationships exist anything is possible.”
Thunderbird Foundation: “Create Hope, Belonging, Meaning and Purpose.”