S32: When Mental Health Is Actually About Health.

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By September 5, 2019 No Comments

Authors: Joy Barrowman, Deborah Carrin, Doris Sant

Year: 2019

Event: 2019 TheMHS Conference

Subject: When Mental Health Is Actually About Health.

Type of resource: Conference Presentations and Papers



Doris Sant, Population Health and Community Partnerships Coordinator -North West Area Mental Health Service. Doris is passionate about addressing health inequalities and building healthier communities using community development/health promotion approaches. She has a B.A in Youth Affairs and a Post Graduate Diploma in Health Promotion with over 25 years’ experience.

Deb Carrin (MSW) –Manager, Hume Wellness and Recovery Team - North West Area Mental Health Service. Deb passionate about community development, health promotion and prevention. Deb has worked in psych disability, CCT, MST, (Project 300), Triage/CATT roles in Queensland and Victoria, with over 25 years’ experience in mental health.

Joy Barrowman - Area Manager- North West Area Mental Health Service. Joy has a nursing and health services management background in New Zealand and Victoria. With 38 years, experience in clinical mental health, hospital and health care roles including skills in research, strategic planning, organisational development and change management.

The north western suburbs of Melbourne is home to some of Australia’s most socially and economically disadvantaged people and, not surprisingly, residents also experience high to very high rates of psychological distress with high demand for clinical mental health and other support services. It is in this context, 10 years ago, a public mental health service took the bold step of complementing its treatment role with a mental ill-health prevention and mental wellbeing promotion approach. This presentation will describe the evolving evidence informed, multi-layered prevention and promotion strategies offered to those providing and receiving clinical treatment, and to the wider community. This will include examples of the resources that were developed and how they are being used. The process of engaging and collaborating with ‘internal’ stakeholders (clinicians, managers, consumers and carers) and external stakeholders (local government, ethnic communities and community agencies) will be described. This will include a frank reckoning of some of the successes, challenges, opportunities, limitations, strengths and hard-won learning that has come from such an ambitious endeavour. The presentation will conclude by addressing the question, ‘what is the role of clinical mental health service in building mentally healthy communities?’

Learning Objectives

Learning Objective 1: Those attending will gain an understanding of conceptual frameworks, research literature, community engagement processes, educational tools used by a public mental health service and our communities, to augment its usual treatment role, with mental health promotion and prevention approaches, to help build mentally healthier communities for all.

Learning Objective 2: Building mentally healthy communities is identified as a social policy imperative and yet examples of attempts to achieve this are rare and the role of area mental health services in this process needs to be considered.


1. Better Mental Health for All: A Public Health Approach to Mental Health Improvement (2016) London: Faculty of Public Health and Mental Health Foundation.

2. Foresight Mental Capital and Wellbeing Project (2008). Final Project report – Executive summary. The Government Office for Science, London.

3. S. L. Millar, M. Donnelly; Promoting mental wellbeing: developing a theoretically and empirically sound complex intervention, Journal of Public Health, Volume 36, Issue 2, 1 June 2014, Pages 275–284, https://doi.org/10.1093/pubmed/fdt075

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