A new partnership between SAHMRI and Cowell Clarke is bringing to life what aims to be the state’s most comprehensive assessment of community wellbeing ever.
The Cowell Clarke Wellbeing and Resilience Scholarship is supporting SAHMRI Researcher and PhD candidate, Matthew Iasiello, to set up a widescale annual mental health measurement. The measurement tool will utilise the SAHMRI Wellbeing and Resilience Centre’s online mental health platform to collect ground-breaking new data with life changing potential.
“It’s a 10-minute survey assessing your overall mental wellbeing that generates a report telling you what’s going well in terms of your mental health, what could do with improvement and what you should look at taking action with,” Mr Iasiello said.
The tool prompts users to regularly retake the assessment after they first complete it, allowing individuals to track their progress and see the change in their wellbeing.
“Many people don’t take the time to check-in with themselves and might be living with a level of distress that they’ve normalised but that actually isn’t normal. This tool can function as that much needed check-in,” Iasiello said.
Until now, there has been no consistent large-scale measurement of wellbeing in Australia and in instances where this is being done for prevalence of mental illness, participants haven’t been able to gain direct benefit, as data collection tools are not providing a personalised report back to the individual to empower them to take action.
“This is a missed opportunity to help the 30% of the population currently at risk and the 20% who are displaying varying levels of distress or mental illness,” Mr Iasiello said.
The tool has been years in the making and provides information about how to improve mental health and wellbeing through the meta-analysis of around 400 studies centring on building wellbeing. This breakdown has enabled researchers to extract the most effective methods to improve mental wellbeing for a broad spectrum of individuals with varying needs.
“We’ve turned that wealth of knowledge into a program to help people understand who they are and what they need to do to look after themselves,” Iasiello said.
Cowell Clarke Chief Operating Officer, Natasha Nicholas, says the COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the need for initiatives that improve community wellbeing and she sees the project as personally relevant to her law firm.
“Going through COVID, making sure that our staff have the tools that they need is really important to us," she said.
"Companies like ours will be able to use this toolkit to help build staff resilience and improve self-care. In our view, any strength that you can gain through training your brain and managing your mental fitness really helps.”
The tool is set to launch during World Mental Health Week in October and will bring together leading organisations, experts and consumers to develop the annual measurement and design a dissemination strategy to process the results.
Ultimately, it’s hoped the initiative will supply key stakeholders with much needed recurrent aggregate data on mental health and wellbeing in Australia. This data can then be used to drive future decision making and reform, with the goal of reducing the burden of poor mental health on individuals, organisations and the community.
“We have these tools available and now it’s about getting them out there into the community. This partnership will allow us to make this resource available to all South Australians and then to those further abroad,” Mr Iasiello said.
The project is expected to further cement SAHMRI as a leader in wellbeing science and mental health measurement.
“The work that Matthew is doing is so important to support at this time, as is SAHMRI as a whole. It’s a really good cause and we hope our partnership will be on-going,” Ms Nicholas said.