NEW PROJECT: Mackay GP John McIntosh (pictured) and his wife and business partner Elizabeth McIntosh will soon release the TUF Minds app to help drive down mental illness and suicide rates.
NEW PROJECT: Mackay GP John McIntosh (pictured) and his wife and business partner Elizabeth McIntosh will soon release the TUF Minds app to help drive down mental illness and suicide rates. Tony Martin

Couple tackling mental health, suicide with modern tech

A PROMINENT Mackay couple hope to drive down stigma surrounding mental health issues and urge those at risk of taking their own lives to reach out for help by way of a national smartphone app.

It's one of many projects GP John McIntosh and his wife and business partner Elizabeth McIntosh have on the boil in the Mackay region and further afield.

TUF Minds - Life Rescue is due to launch Australia-wide in November, thanks to the backing of Exqisit Life Foundation, and is currently the subject of pilot studies by James Cook University and CQUniversity.

The app's suite of programs are aimed at helping communities recognise the signs and symptoms of suicide risk, provide effective steps to help those at risk, tackle the prevailing stigma surrounding all-too-common mental illnesses and emphasise that mental illnesses and suicidal thoughts are treatable and get better - though, there's many other facets to the far-reaching mobile software.

"It's a combination of mental resilience training and suicide and mental health awareness (programs) and strategies, Dr John McIntosh told the Daily Mercury.

"It gives people knowledge and understanding to recognise and intervene with those with suicidal thinking. Plus, knowledge about mental illnesses more generally.

"Particularly specific to our program is mental resilience training, which will be offered on the app for free to the whole community."

The GP on the front-line added research confirmed the programs offered through the app boosts mental resilience by 30 per cent.

Dr McIntosh - who's involved with the Suicide Prevention Community Action Group and the Queensland Health 'Zero Suicide' group - pressed the urgent need for more resources to be pumped into preventing mental health issues and suicide in Australia.

The figures nation-wide regarding mental health are confronting, emphasised the doctor: "One-in-five people have depression and one-in-four people have anxiety".

Over a five year period from 2012-2016, the average number of suicide deaths in Australia per year was 2795, according to Mindframe.

Suicide is about three times higher in males consistently across every state and territory.

While it's quite difficult to pin down exactly how many people are tragically taking their own lives in the Mackay region, Dr McIntosh believes our community is no different to many regional and rural areas across the country.

"We need everybody to know how mental health works, suicide works. To get the information out there to get rid of the stigma and the fear (to seek help) ..."

Visit tufminds.com online to back the app by donating, or for more information.

Do you need help? Phone Lifeline on 13 11 44, beyondblue on 1300 22 4636, or visit headspace online.



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