Speak out, save a mate on Kangaroo Island

SAVE A MATE: Kangaroo Island Community Centre coordinator Maree Baldwin with Kevin Nash from the Red Cross Save-a-Mate program.

SAVE A MATE: Kangaroo Island Community Centre coordinator Maree Baldwin with Kevin Nash from the Red Cross Save-a-Mate program.

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Mental health of locals on Kangaroo Island was a key topic of the Agriculture Kangaroo Island (AgKI) biennial conference on August 16.

Over 100 delegates attended the conference at Kingscote Town Hall, which brought together the Island's farmers with world-class speakers and programs including Save-a-Mate from Australian Red Cross.

Save-a-Mate is a national program, which promotes the health and well-being of young people by providing education, services and support on key current and emerging health issues.

As part of the conference, the Save-a-Mate program presented a harm minimisation workshop, which gave participants the skills and knowledge to prevent, recognise and respond to emergencies that could potentially save a life.

Peer support worker with Save-a-Mate, Kevin Nash, attended the event and encouraged local farmers to speak about mental health issues.

"We know that early intervention, often from a friend nearby, in an emergency can save a life," Mr Nash said.

"I often say to people in the course that we not only need the skills to respond to a drug or alcohol emergency, but we also need to learn to have judgment free conversations about how we're feeling because we know that a mental health concern can come hand in hand with substance abuse."

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Mr Nash said Red Cross will be running further workshops on the Island in the near future.

"Talking about feelings can be tough, sadly more so for most men," he said. "But having that conversation with a mate can make a massive difference and may just be the factor that helps someone to get back on top of things or seek professional support."

Save-a-Mate was brought to the conference through the Kangaroo Island Community Centre, managed by Junction. Centre coordinator Maree Baldwin said schools, sporting clubs and community organisations all play a role in in helping support the mental health of the community.

She said Take Action Kangaroo Island (TAKI), the Island's local drug action team, has also been providing free Safe Environments for Children and Young Adults training and Responsible Service of Alcohol training across the island.

"The TAKI team supports community action to reduce risk factors and help to strengthen protective factors around mental health, domestic violence and alcohol and drugs and we view community organisations as an integral component of these partnership," she said.

"The Save-a-Mate program empowers young people to stay safe and look after their mates and aims to reduce incidence and alcohol and other drug related harms."

For more information visit www.redcross.org.au/about/how-we-help/save-a-mate or contact sasam@redcross.org.au via email.

If you, or someone you know, is struggling with their mental health please contact your local your local GP or call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit www.lifeline.org.au.