The Midwest tackles tough times, together


Imagine living and working on a farm on the outskirts of a small country town. Half of your mates are fly-in-fly-out workers, and away for weeks at a time. You used to see the other half down at the local pub. Until it closed. There’s still footy and cricket training, but some days trying to get there while managing the farm feels like an Olympic feat. You feel isolated. You want to talk to someone about it, but your closest mental health specialist is three hours away.

This is the reality for many men living in the Midwest. This is what the Midwest Suicide Prevention Trial is learning to combat, to support the wellbeing of men aged 25-54 in the region.

The Midwest Suicide Prevention Trial is one of 12 sites across Australia selected by the Australian Government to participate in the National Suicide Prevention Trial. It recognises that preventing suicide is a complex problem, and regional communities need to be supported to tackle tough times together, to reduce the rate of suicide in the region.

Midwest Trial coordinator Jacki Ward and her team drive from town to town, upskilling local people in Mental Health First Aid, putting on GP training days, and running activities at community events like the Mingenew Expo, to connect with men that could be at risk. In 2019 Jacki travelled more than 21,000 kilometres,. the equivalent of Geraldton to Brisbane five times.

“We want to take a multifaceted approach to supporting men in the region. We are training people in local communities to be able to support one another when face to face services are not available at that particular time.” Jacki said.

“We also ran a large-scale media awareness campaign which had more than 2 million views, trying to inform men about their mental health, with advertising in mine sites, at the fishing wharf, in licensed venues and sporting facilities.

“We have had reports of an increase in help-seeking since the Trial began as people begin to feel more confident reaching out, so it is critical that we also support local health professionals to confidently provide the best care.”

2019 Trial Achievements

  • 1538 people engaged in 62 workshops, trainings, and events.
  • 41 Mental Health Trainings for the community in just 9 months.
  • 70 Midwest health professionals received additional mental health training
  • More than 2,380,000 Inside My Mind campaign video views across TV, social media, YouTube and cinema.
  • Trained local media and journalists in the appropriate reporting of suicide and mental health to reduce stigma and risk.
  • Offered GP training via video link to rural areas and developed an online depression and anxiety training package to improve access to training for rural GPs.

“If we decrease stigma in the community, upskill local health professionals and empower local people to support each other, we can build a sustainable foundation for mental health support in the Midwest, for the future.” Jacki said.

“This is what the Midwest Suicide Prevention Trial is all about.”

If you or someone you know is in crisis or needs help, contact:

Lifeline 13 11 14

Mental Health Support Helpline 1800 048 636

Men’s Helpline 1300 789 978

In an emergency, call triple zero (000).

The Midwest Suicide Prevention Trial is supported by WA Primary Health Alliance as part of the Australian Government’s National Suicide Prevention Trial. The Midwest Trial aims to improve mental health outcomes for Aboriginal communities, and for men in the region, particularly men aged 25-50 working as farmers, fishers and FIFO workers.

To learn more about the Trial, visit our website.