Mental Health Serivces

Mr DULUK (Waite) (15:26): Mr Speaker, I know that you know that words matter. What we say and how we say it can have a significant impact—that is the message that journalists and MPs have heard this week. Last night, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to represent the Minister for Health and Wellbeing, Stephen Wade from the other house, at the Walking through a Mindfield forum for media professionals. It was one of two events led this week by the SA Mental Health Commission to raise awareness of the importance of language in relation to mental illness and suicide.

The events are part of the commission's work in implementing the SA Mental Health Strategic Plan 2017-2022, a core strategy that aims to strengthen mental health and wellbeing through prevention and early intervention, as well as improve awareness and reduce stigma. The plan is focused on strengthening the mental health and wellbeing of all South Australians and we all have a role to play in this. With many South Australians living with a mental illness, it is important to ensure that our language is right to help break down stigma and encourage people to seek help and support and to, most importantly, seek it early.


The plan was created from feedback, lived experience, stories and concerns from over 2,200 people of all ages from right across South Australia. I want to thank the SA Mental Health Commission and the commissioner, the Hon. Mr Chris Burns CSC, and his team as they continue to implement the SA Mental Health Strategic Plan.


Last night, around 80 media professionals gathered for a presentation by Mindframe. Mindframe is an Australian government initiative that encourages responsible, accurate and sensitive representation of mental illness and suicide in the Australian media. I would like to thank the presenters, Marc Bryant and Sara Bartlett, for their enlightening and insightful presentation on the importance of language in relation to communication and engagement on mental wellbeing, mental illness and suicide. The message was clear: words really matter when it comes to mental illness and suicide and the way that our media outlets report it is even more important.


Surprisingly, members of parliament and our staff have something in common with journalists and that is that we can become deeply involved with people's lives. We hear their stories, learn about their personal challenges and can become emotionally invested in their issue. The words we use when speaking to constituents, writing letters, delivering speeches or posting on social media can have a significant and lasting impact.


This morning, I was joined by my colleagues the member for Wright and the Hon. John Darley MLC to co-host the Mind Your Words forum for members of parliament and staff. It was wonderful to see you there as well, sir. I know that the issue of mental health and suicide is a very important issue for you and your constituents out on the West Coast and Eyre Peninsula.

This morning was an opportunity for members of parliament and staff to hear about the importance of language. The presentation provided tips and hints on mindfulness; mass communications on suicide and mental illness; issues to consider to support safe and risk-averse communications; safe messaging in speeches, media releases and social media; ways to generate behaviour change for suicide prevention; and self-care for MPs and staff. Both events coincide with the National Suicide Prevention Conference being held in Adelaide this week.


An important message from both events is the need for each and every one of us to look after ourselves. Representing our communities is clearly a privilege and one I am sure we all enjoy, but it does have its unique challenges. We are not counsellors, but we do often listen, provide support and endeavour to assist people in need. It can be challenging, and it is important that each of us, and our staff in particular, look after our own mental health. As I said this morning, it is important for MPs to ensure that our staff have the right equipment and tools to deal with these matters as well.


We should not be afraid to ask for help. Taking care of our own mental health and wellbeing enables every one of us to cope with daily challenges, build healthy working relationships and work productively. My thanks to Mindframe; the SA Mental Health Commissioner, Mr Chris Burns, and his staff; Jenny Brown from Lifeline Adelaide; the host of last night's event, Tory Shepherd from The Advertiser; panellists Sean Fewster, Ali Clarke, Jessica Adamson, David Washington; and Australian Mental Health Nurse of the Year, Matt Bell.


Finally, I would like to acknowledge that today is Lifeline's National Stress Down Day, when we are all encouraged to stress less at work. Even in parliament, every now and then, we should probably stress less.