How Manna Institute is addressing rural suicide

Posted 24th November 2023 in Sector news

Data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows that age standardised suicide rates increase with remoteness and that the rates for all areas outside major cities are above the national average.

The Manna Institute is a virtual institute of leading researchers working with industry and community partners to improve mental health and wellbeing in rural, regional and remote Australia. It is funded by a Commonwealth grant under the Regional Research Collaboration program and aims to foster meaningful research, professional workforce development, and the translation of research findings into practical, place-based programs.

The team at Manna Institute emphasise the importance of not only developing, but evaluating suicide prevention initiatives targeting rural, regional and remote communities.

Manna Institute Director, Professor Myfanwy Maple states that Manna has a strong focus on the translation of research findings into practical, place-based programs. Professor Maple explains that research at Manna covers suicide prevention across the lifespan and across the geographical differences in rural, regional and remote communities. From evaluating suicide prevention school programs in regional Tasmania to exploring the needs of the mental health and suicide prevention workforces across regional NSW, Manna is committed to furthering the understanding of how Australian systems, policies and communities can better deliver supports that have rural, regional and remote communities at their heart.

The National Mental Health Commission recently released Curiosity, Compassion and Care: A report on people’s lived experience of distress and mental ill-health in Australia. This report uses data from five research studies undertaken by Professor Maple and Associate Professor Sarah Wayland from Manna Institute and the University of New England.

Undertaken in October 2022 and involving more than 3,400 people with a lived experience of distress and mental ill-health, the five studies capture the experiences of seeking help and support. The research has been translated by Manna Institute industry partner, Everymind to develop a plain English report that provides insight and guidance to inform policymakers, service providers and the broader community.

Speaking about the importance of the report, Professor Maple noted that it creates a bridge between research data and policy, program or service development and its implementation.

“Curiosity, compassion and care are key elements to bring into all levels of the conversations. This is of particular importance to Manna Institute, an institute developing strategies for, with and by rural, regional and remote communities.”

Professor Myfanwy Maple

The full report is available to download on the Mental Health Commission’s website.

By developing place-based research capacity, Manna Institute equips communities to take ownership of the mental health and wellbeing of their members, and to build capacity and implement targeted solutions for priority populations.

The Institute recognise that suicide prevention approaches that work in the city may not work, or require adaptation, for regional Australians, and are dedicated to research in this area.

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