Growing mental health support in Meekatharra

The community of Meekatharra will be better equipped to support people with mental health issues thanks to seven locals completing their Grow Local Certificate IV in Mental Health.

Grow Local is a free community training initiative developed WA Primary Health Alliance in partnership with the Australian Medical Association (WA).

Federal Member for Durack, The Hon Melissa Price, said there is a significant need for culturally sensitive mental health services in Meekatharra, so it’s great to see people getting the skills they need to support the mental health of the people around them.

“Not only will this increase the number of qualified mental health workers in the region, but it will also upskill the community to actively help each other work through mental health issues in an informed way,“ Minister Price said

WA Primary Health Alliance Regional Manager, Amy Perry, said Grow Local was initially developed in 2017 to support regional communities experiencing difficulty in recruiting and retaining culturally appropriate mental health workers.

“It is difficult to find mental health workers who understand the local issues and have the trust of their local community.

“Meekatharra can now benefit from our Grow Local graduates who can deliver grassroots suicide prevention and mental health support,” Ms Perry said.

Local business owner Pamela Hodder has suffered from mental health concerns since she was a teenager and decided to complete the course to find out how she could use her lived experience to help others.

“I’m interested in mental health development, not just for myself, but for my kids, my fellow community members or anyone who needs an ear.

“I wanted to broaden my horizons. I have children coming into their teenage years and I want to be able to help if there is a problem. I also want to be able to support my friends if they ever need help,” said Pamela.

WA Primary Health Alliance has worked closely with the Meekatharra Aboriginal Reference Group to ensure the course met the needs of the entire community and done in partnership with the Meekatharra Shire and Mission Australia.

The Australian Medical Association WA (AMA) training division was engaged to design and deliver regionally tailored training.

AMA (WA) Immediate Past President, Dr Omar Khorshid said he looked forward to seeing the Meekatharra graduates use their new skills to actively help their communities work through mental health issues in an informed way.

“The AMA (WA), through AMA Training Services, is proud to be one of the delivery partners on such a valuable initiative, and WA Primary Health Alliance is to be congratulated on creating this opportunity for the Meekatharra community.

“The skills gained will provide much needed community based mental health support, and complement the work provided by local GPs and other healthcare professionals,” Dr Khorshid said.

More than 30 people from Kalgoorlie, Leonora and Esperance have already graduated with a
Grow Local Certificate IV in Mental Health.

WA Primary Health Alliance is also funding the qualification for more than 100 other Western Australians living and working in Karratha, Kalgoorlie, Northam, Carnarvon, Bunbury and Albany.

This activity is supported by funding from the Australian Government through the PHN Program.