The Queensland Mental Health Commission invested in regional community mental health and wellbeing hubs to pilot locally led approaches to improving awareness, knowledge and capacity for good mental health.
Established by the Commission in 2016 under the Early action: Queensland Mental Health Promotion, Prevention and Early Intervention Action Plan 2015-2017, the virtual hubs were created in partnership with community organisations across Queensland.
Each hub was planned and implemented in response to evidence that good mental health and wellbeing is a foundation of flourishing individuals, families, and communities.
Longstanding evidence also points to the central role that communities play in supporting and protecting individual and collective mental health and wellbeing through fostering social inclusion, connectedness and equity, and enabling access to resources and services.
An evaluation found that, overall, the hubs achieved the intended outcomes of improving local mental health awareness, capacity and coordination. Find the report here. Ethics approval was obtained for the identification of participants in the final report with their consent.
About the hubs
The hubs were established to help build connected and inclusive communities where individuals and groups would be supported to build good mental health and wellbeing, and to work to reduce the risk factors for poor mental health.
The Commission partnered with three community organisations across Queensland to develop a localised approach to building mental health and wellbeing capacity:
- CentacareCQ established the Central Highlands Hub
- Relationships Australia Queensland (RAQ) established the Logan and Southern Moreton Bay Islands (SMBI) Hub
- Selectability (formerly SOLAS) established the North Queensland Hub.
- Following the end of the North Queensland Hub in 2017, the Commission partnered with CentacareFNQ in 2018 to establish the Far North Queensland (FNQ) Hub.
Each hub identified and collaborated with key community stakeholders to determine local priorities and implementation methodologies to develop, apply and support ways to:
- increase awareness about the importance and benefits of promoting positive mental health and wellbeing
- build the capacity of community groups to promote mental health and wellbeing
- lead and participate in the coordination, planning, implementation and review of local mental health and wellbeing activities.
The hubs worked with individuals, community members, groups, networks, industry and government across their regions to identify community needs and facilitate better access to mental health and wellbeing training and resources.
Hubs were free to determine the frameworks and approaches they used to engage and build capacity. The Commission provided hubs employees access to Wheel of Wellbeing (WoW) and Mental Wellbeing Impact Assessment (MWIA) training. Visit our Capacity Building page for more information about these frameworks.
Evaluation and outcomes
A Commission-funded 2019 independent evaluation of the hubs initiative reported that the hubs had achieved the intended outcomes of improving local mental health awareness, capacity and coordination. The evaluation confirmed the approach adopted by the Commission to resource a community-based organisation to work with community leaders and a range of sector representatives. The evaluation emphasised that communities were well equipped to identify and drive solutions to fit their needs. The evaluation also confirmed the importance of initiatives being adequately resourced and supported, emphasising the need to invest in building sustainable mechanisms for collective action, including for community wellbeing.
The evaluation, which can be found here, was completed in April 2019, and only considered events prior to that date. The hubs engaged in a range of activities until 31 December 2019. Ongoing achievements have included:
Central Highlands Hub (delivered by CentacareCQ):
- four WoW advanced practitioners trained, with one awaiting verification.
- nine one-day WoW workshops and three DIY Happiness Programs/Intensives delivered.
- 24 participants verified as WoW practitioners across the broader CQ region.
- 68 activities, events and workshops delivered to 1978 Central Highlands region participants .
- incorporated the organisation, formalising their commitment to continuing the work after the hubs pilot had concluded.
- new Central QLD Wellbeing Hubs Inc launched on 6 November 2019. The new body will continue the work of local community groups in four regions, promoting individual and community health and wellbeing.
Far North Queensland Hub (delivered by CentacareFNQ):
- one WoW advanced practitioner trained, with verification pending.
- more than 50 WoW-inspired events delivered in the Tablelands, Cooktown and Cairns regions.
- 12 one-day WoW workshops and one intensive session delivered.
- “Gutz’n’Glory 2019” obstacle course event delivered in Atherton in collaboration collaborated with the Maize Committee/Youth Ambassador program, attended by more than 90 young people from the Tablelands.
- WoW delivered at the 2018 Atherton Maize festival, with a commitment to theme the next six annual festivals on elements of the Wheel of Wellbeing.
Logan and Southern Moreton Bay Islands (SMBI) hubs (delivered by Relationships Australia Queensland):
- four WoW Advanced Practitioners trained and verified, who have subsequently helped 26 people to become WoW practitioners.
- 13 one-day WoW Workshops (226 participants), 14 DIY Happiness Programs/Intensives (139 participants) and 27 shorter, bespoke WoW sessions (769 participants) Delivered.
- contributed to wellbeing training and events promoting WoW at 10 local expos (2180+ attendees) and seven local conferences (160 session attendees).
- facilitated eight planning meetings using asset-based community development principles to shape SMBI’s wellbeing agenda. These planning meetings were informed by a Mental Wellbeing Impact Assessment conducted in 2017.
- fostered communication between and across islands, enabling local solutions to be discussed and implemented. These included innovative, community-led initiatives to address social isolation, link generations, improve infrastructure use, and provide accessible services. The Macleay Island community, which mobilised around the concept of WoW and community flourishing, created drop-in spaces and events for children, young people and older adults. These linked trained volunteers to isolated adults and disadvantaged children and enabled services to be discreet and accessible by co-locating with relevant venues and providing transport.
The knowledge gained from the hubs initiative will inform future community initiatives. The Commission thanks everyone involved for their dedication and commitment to improving mental health and wellbeing in their communities. We acknowledge the many people in the participating organisations and regions who contributed time, energy and creativity to design and drive actions for better wellbeing and better lives. The Commission remains committed to supporting improved outcomes through population mental health and early intervention, as detailed in the Invest to Save focus area of the Shifting minds: Queensland Mental Health, Alcohol and Other Drugs Strategic Plan 2018-2023.