We’ve got some tough choices to make as we try to narrow down the applicants for the Our Town mental health funding.

The Our Town funding round closed at the start of August and we’ve received applications from right across the state.

We’ve been extremely impressed with the quality of the applications and how towns and whole regions have come together for this opportunity. This funding will see us ultimately support two South Australian towns for up to 10 years to tackle their identified mental health challenges.

Many applicants are proposing localised solutions for mental health but a number of themes have also emerged. Many people talked about trying to reduce the stigma around mental health and change perceptions. Reducing social isolation was also a key factor.

People were realistic about the issues with trying to attract further mental health services to rural and regional South Australia and were thinking outside the box. It wasn’t about trying to bring in new services but to try to negate the need for them in the first place. A series of proactive approaches have been suggested to reduce the chance of poor mental health. There have been ideas on how to bring people together and create connections for positive health and wellbeing.

South Australian towns have also embraced the Our Town funding model, which is a different type of funding opportunity. Our Town is not about funding a standalone program or even one organisation. It’s about grassroots movements that mobilise various parts of a community around a mental health challenge. Each application has been great at demonstrating how the community and its residents, organisations and clubs are intertwined and able to work together.

Volunteering has also emerged as a big theme and there seems to be a very strong capacity for people to give back to their communities.

Now our work begins.

For a start we’ll choose up to 10 towns from our list and we’ll go out to see them to hear more about their applications and ideas. All applicants will know whether or not they are successful by mid-September.

Our regional visits will take place in November and after those visits we’ll choose our final shortlist of six towns.

With a field like this, we’ll have some difficult choices to make between now and then.

We’ll post further website updates in the coming months and make sure you also subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up-to-date on Our Town.