Posted by Ian FAIRNIE on Dec 18, 2023
We finished 2023 with an excellent presentation by James Stevens-Cutler, from the Mental Health Commission, talking about the Public Health campaigns that have been launched in recent times.
There are currently three campaigns running - Alcohol Think Again, Drug Aware, and Think Mental Health.  These campaigns are run in partnership with the Cancer Council as there is significant overlap, and all three are evidence-based statewide campaigns.
James Stevens-Cutler with host Chris Whelan
In a lively Q&A, James advised that like many others, few of those present were up to date with the latest recommendations about drinking alcohol: maximum 10 standard drinks a week, and no more than 4 at any one time.
While not claiming credit for the change in drinking habits of high school students (and please remember any under-18 drinking in any place in WA, including the family home, is illegal), James advised that current young drinkers are starting to drink alcohol later and are drinking less that we (or you) did.
Perhaps coincidentally, we are confronted almost every day, with the consequences of heavy drinking during pregnancy, namely young people with FAS-D.  That’s Foetal Alcolhol Spectrum Disorder.  Our juvenile detention facilities are overflowing the FAS-D kids, many of whom are hundreds of kilometres from their communities and families, with little hope of rehabilitation.
Drug Aware public awareness campaigns are currently focussing on the dangers of ecstasy, and the permanent brain damage that occurs with continuous overuse of cannabis.
The Mental Health campaign focusses on Self Harm, including the ultimate self harm - suicide.  The current campaigns are Learn to Look after You, and Find Your Way to OK.  A perusal of the website indicates the importance of young people (like year 5 or 6) gaining the skills to think positively - Aussie Optimism is one program I recall being developed at Curtin University some 20 years ago, for use in primary schools, which did just that!