We look at an example of getting the health message across to the people who access our services at Caboolture. We spoke to MELISSA HAFFENDEN, their Senior Mental Health Worker.
‘We started with a team discussion about what health physical health concerns there were, and as it was coming into Winter we thought Influenza would be a good topic for education.
The first thing we did was to have one to one meetings between Peer Workers and each of the people who access Caboolture service.
As a bit of a gimmickry, we came up with a Flu Sample bag, because we knew that sort of thing would go down well. The sample bags included information about flu and how to manage it with good hygiene as well as lozenges and even hand sanitiser!
Following that we branched out into preventive mode. At our next BBQ we tried to send the message that good nutritional choices will boost your immunity and protect you from illness. What we eat and the amount of physical exercise we do are both important. We aimed to get people to go out of their comfort zones with healthy eating. To top it all off we had a walk in the sunshine.
To enable us to evaluate it we surveyed the participants’ before and after the project to see if we had made a difference. We found that participants grew in their awareness of preventive measures such as hygiene and physical health.
We also found, more surprisingly, that there was not much increase in willingness to have a flu vaccination, even though that was part of the program. The AFTER survey showed that people still didn’t want to be vaccinated for flu. Some cited ‘cost’ as a reason, although we explained how and where people on the DSP can get free vaccines. Another thing they were worried about was the possibility of getting sick from the vaccine.
All in all, though people were very keen on participating and this has led us to begin work on our next physical health project.
It is early days yet, but something we are considering is a day where we look at personal hygiene- but in a nice way. Call it a ‘Makeover!’
10% of adults get flu each year
There are between 1,500 and 3,500 deaths from flu or from its complications (like pneumonia and bronchitis) each year. It is NOT the same as a COLD. (Department of Health Australia, 2016)
People at a high risk may be eligible for a free vaccine. Check with your GP. People at high risk may include the elderly, young children, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People, and people with certain chronic illnesses including diabetes. (Department of Health Australia, 2016)
If you are not eligible for a free vaccine, the price starts at $9 but varies. (MacIntyre & Aye, 2016)
There are various ever-changing strains of flu in circulation all the time meaning that we have to keep making new vaccines each year. There are three types, A, B and C. Influenza C does not cause major outbreaks. (Department of Health Australia, 2016)
In 2016, Trivalent inactivated influenza vaccine (TIV) protects against three strains nicknamed California A, Hong Kong A (the worst) and Brisbane B. Quadrivalent inactivated influenza vaccine (QIV) also protects against Phuket B.
Live flu vaccines, used in other countries, can sometimes actually cause influenza, but are not available in Australia. Only inactivated vaccines are used in Australia. Inactivated flu vaccine cannot actually give you flu. (MacIntyre & Aye, 2016)
More information about Flu and infectious diseases are on the NSW health or Immunize Australia web sites.
Department of Health Australia. (2016). Influenza (flu). Retrieved from Immunize Australia Program:
MacIntyre, C., & Aye, M. (2016, April 15). Thinking about getting the 2016 flu vaccine? Here’s what you need to know. Retrieved from The Conversation:
Resources are Everywhere
NSW, Queensland and Commonwealth Health Departments have lots of resources available to spread information about all kinds of health issues- including mental health issues. A lot of them are targeted at very specific audiences. For example, the FLU poster below comes with different images of sneezing people.This is the aboriginal version! The information is out there and there is something for everyone.
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CABOOLTURE Qld 4510
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