Newsletter for the Rotary Club of Western Endeavour - Issue No.: 1116 Issue Date: 21 Apr, 2024

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Australian Rotary Health - Mental Health - Jerry Pilcher

Jennifer Lee introduced Jerry Pilcher which was fitting as Jennifer is a Clinical Psychologist endorsed  Specialist Clinical Psychologist (Practice in Private and with the Health Department Child and Adolescent Mental Health Clinical Psychologist) as Jerry was going to focus on Australian Rotary Health (ARH) programs on mental health which is a passion of his.  

Jerry started his presentation by asking us to remember the number 580,000 – that is a big number!

ARH was founded by Ian Scott, a member of the Rotary Club of Mornington, Victoria. In 1981, Scott was so moved by the impact of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) on families that he resolved to set up a fund to support research on this and other family health problems. This resulted in the establishment of the Australian Rotary Health Research Fund. The Fund offered its first research grants in 1985. The Fund initially supported research on sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), including a project which showed that prone sleeping position of the infant was a major risk factor. That study led to a 80% reduction in Cot Deaths occurring – an incredible result.

In addition to the important research on SIDS, ARH has provided funding for a number of projects that have had a practical impact on Australia or have received awards for their importance. These include projects on: nutrition and mental health, clonidine added to psychostimulant medication for hyperactive and aggressive children, e-therapy for anxiety disorders, media reporting of suicide and mental health first aid guidelines. There are approximately 3,000 suicides in Australia each year. Personally I am aware of several youths and young adults committing suicide which is devastating for everyone.

In Australia we are observing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder due to drought, floods, cyclones which are affecting more and more people each year. It is estimated that 1 in 5 people will have a mental health issue in one year and 2 in 5 in a lifetime so is a huge issue.

ARH has the program “Lift the Lid on Mental illness” and has promoted walks to raise funds for the program. The money raised goes into mental health research.

There is also the program “Mental Health First Aid Training”. The Mental Health First Aid course equips adults with the knowledge, skills, and confidence to recognise, understand and respond to a co-worker or another adult experiencing a mental health problem or mental health crisis. Teenagers are now having increases in anxiety and depression and is a real focus of mental health programs.

The ARH have a number of tools for training including pod casts (future research).  in 2023 ARH will have a focus that considers mental health and wellbeing outcomes for children from birth to 12 years.  Another project which is supported is Cool Kids: Reducing Anxiety Online

So far ARH has raised $51M and RCWE has provided $29,000 over the years. RCWE will continue to support ARH.

Jerry finished by talking about an experience within his family in regard to mental health.

The 580,000 is the number of children and teenagers that are currently experiencing anxiety and/or depression in Australia - that is a big number!

Author: Laurie Glossop

Published: 18 September, 2023

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