Mental health stretched

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There has been a noticeable increase in mental distress following COVID-19, prompting mental health services within the region to offer additional initiatives.

The initiatives have included various formats, from pop up spaces to guest speakers, offering a range of information sharing.

StandBy, with the support of a host of other local community organisations, trialled a month-long ‘Pop Up Drop In Community Support Space’ in The Old Bookmark Café at the Mount Gambier Library.

The initiative provided community members with activities and resources to access services for those in need.

StandBy-Support after Suicide Country SA coordinator Tracy Waganeen said the space was set up to gauge the needs of the community.

“It was a safe space to just have a chat and take away some information,” she said.

“It is not always about mental illness, it is often about mental wellbeing.

“We thought that if we ran some nice activities it would be a way of getting a different demographic of people in.

“It really did feel like a community help space, I might have led it but it was not just a StandBy initiative, it was our community getting together to provide for our community.”

Warren Davies the Unbreakable Farmer spoke at West Gambier Football Club in a free event recently, using his lived experience of struggling and considering taking his life.

Mrs Waganeen said he shared his story in a way that normalises that it is okay to get to a point of being distressed, but it is also okay to reach out and get help.

“He wraps his story up with the importance of where to get help and that it is not a weakness to do that,” she said.

“It is about bringing people together to listen to a message they may not listen to otherwise.

“I think also in our society, there is a lot of men that grew up thinking that you should not show your emotions.”

In another initiative, well known speaker Nic Newling will speak for free on July 26 at the UniSA Mount Gambier Campus at 6.30pm.

Mr Newling is an outspoken advocate for mental health, suicide prevention, sharing his personal stories.

He will talk about his mental health struggles as a teenager in which he ended up in a mental health facility because professionals could not diagnose what was wrong.

Mrs Waganeen said he told his story in such a positive way and his messaging at the end was also to seek help and how you can do that in a progressive way.

“It is about finding different ways to connect with people, whether that is a guest speaker, a morning tea or an activity,” she said.

“There is no perfect fit for everyone, so it is about being able to tap into different demographics.

“Even if people are not struggling themselves they might be able to go away with knowledge they can share with someone else.”

If you are struggling there is help available, contact Lifeline on 131 114 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636.

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