Mental illness can be disorienting, making people feel alone and vulnerable. It’s difficult for anybody, anywhere. Imagine how much harder it is in a rural community, miles from the nearest support service, and with very few people around who understand what you are going through.

Black Dog Institute is one example of more than 140 projects around the world to receive support from the 150 community fund

That’s why HSBC is helping the charity Black Dog Institute to provide vital mental health services in 35 rural communities across Australia. The donation comes from the HSBC 150 community fund, established in 2015 to mark the bank’s 150 years in business.

With young people particularly likely to experience poor mental health, HSBC Australia’s support will also enable the institute to develop and test a ‘virtual’ mental health clinic for adolescents. This will provide online tools that could make it easier for young people to access information discreetly and quickly, wherever they are – a potential lifeline for those who live far from other sources of help.

Professor Helen Christensen, Director, Black Dog Institute, said: “Funding for clinical innovation is relatively rare in Australia and the knowledge and experience we will generate will have a lasting impact on mental health programmes, both here and around the world.”

Black Dog Institute is just one example of more than 140 projects around the world to receive support from the 150 community fund. Other projects to benefit include initiatives to help low-income Canadian students continue their studies, encourage volunteers among disadvantaged communities in Malaysia, and protect one of the world’s rarest mammals in Vietnam.

The community fund supplements HSBC’s existing donations. Including money from the fund, HSBC donated a total of USD205 million to community projects in 2015.

More than 50,000 employees voted to choose the types of project they wanted to benefit from the community fund. They selected three priority areas of investment: children and education, the environment and wildlife, and medical welfare and research.

The list below details some of the projects that have already been announced. The bank will make further donations from the fund in 2016 and 2017.

Children and education

  • Canada: Donations include increased support for Pathways to Education Canada, enabling the charity to provide 75 scholarships to young people from low-income communities and help them continue their studies after secondary school

  • Bangladesh: 22,500 children from 20 primary schools will take part in a British Council programme called ‘Play, Learn, Act’, designed to enhance their English literacy and communication skills

  • South Korea: 750 schoolchildren are expected to take part in a Junior Achievement programme supported by HSBC, which is designed to help young people develop entrepreneurial spirit and financial skills

  • Sri Lanka: 1,500 young people will learn computer skills with support from HSBC and local charity Sarvodaya-Fusion; other local donations will provide educational scholarships and promote environmental protection in the country’s national parks

The environment and wildlife

  • Vietnam: HSBC donations include support for the global conservation organisation WWF to protect the saola, an endangered mammal found only in remote forests

  • Indonesia: HSBC is working with WWF to promote sustainable fishing and responsible marine tourism

  • Malaysia: HSBC is making contributions to six charities including the Malaysian Nature Society, a non-profit organisation established in 1940 to protect the country’s diverse wildlife and habitats

Medical welfare and research

  • UK: HSBC is working with charity Cancer Research UK to support the development of The Francis Crick Institute, a new state-of-the-art biomedical research facility

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