Grants make a difference to mental health of rural Australians

Grants make a difference to mental health of rural Australians

Grants up to $20,000 are available through the In a Good Place program (IAGP), supporting mental health programs for communities in rural, regional and remote Australia.

The IAGP program, now in its third year, is the centrepiece of a five-year partnership between the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR) and CCI Giving. Based on a shared belief in the value and importance of rural, regional and remote communities, it’s a commitment to strengthening mental health and wellbeing among people who live and work far from our populated cities and towns.

A pool of $200,000 is available for community-led projects to reduce social isolation, increase social participation and connectedness, and increase access to help for people in these locations who are at risk of, or are experiencing, mental health issues.

Jeremy Yipp, Chief Risk Officer of CCI and Chair of CCI Giving, said initiatives that increase the resilience and social connectedness of rural communities not only have direct mental health benefits, but often also lead to improved mental wellbeing by increasing productivity, economic participation, and employment.

“We have seen so many projects funded through the In a Good Place program that have been a beacon of hope for those living in communities doing it tough. They have made a real difference to the resilience, social connectedness and mental wellbeing of rural Australians. Even just sharing experiences and knowing that you’re not alone is, in itself, powerful.

“We encourage community groups to put forward proposals for projects that will help to tackle mental health challenges, especially now with the additional pressures of COVID-19,” said Mr Yipp.

Natalie Egleton, CEO of FRRR, said that COVID-19 has highlighted the impact that isolation can have on mental health and demonstrates why social connectedness, particularly during times of crisis, is so important for the mental wellbeing of those living in rural communities.

“Rural communities have been hit by drought, bushfires, and floods. Now the impact of COVID-19 restrictions has weighed in. These events have a huge impact on the mental health of those living in these regions,” Ms Egleton said.

For people living in rural, regional and remote Australia, accessing mental health support is typically more complex than in metropolitan areas. This is due to a myriad of factors including a lack of mental health expertise within the community, the considerable travel time to reach mental health services and specialists, and an overarching culture of self-reliance and fear of stigma.

“Mental health in rural, regional and remote Australia is a complex issue. Overwhelmingly, there is a consistent need in these communities for better access to mental health services, as well as greater opportunities to strengthen social-connectedness and participation,” Ms Egleton explained.