Talk­ing men­tal health in the bush is more than a week’s bat­tle

The Western Star - - News -

ONE in five Aus­tralians are af­fected by men­tal health, yet many don’t seek help be­cause of stigma.

That’s the mes­sage from Men­tal Health Aus­tralia, the peak na­tional body rep­re­sent­ing and pro­mot­ing bet­ter men­tal health for all Aus­tralians. To­day marks the end of Men­tal Health Week, a pe­riod for global men­tal health ed­u­ca­tion, aware­ness and ad­vo­cacy.

On a lo­cal level, South West Hos­pi­tal and Health Ser­vices’ men­tal health team is tak­ing the time to re­mind ev­ery­one they’re not alone.

Peri­na­tal men­tal health clin­i­cian Ju­lianne Ever­son said the week was a chance to start po­ten­tially life­sav­ing con­ver­sa­tions, and there was no bet­ter way to do that than be­ing on the ground.

“Men­tal health is not some­thing to be afraid of or to hide away from,” she said.

“Ev­ery­one at some point in their life is likely to ex­pe­ri­ence some sort of men­tal health is­sue and we just want peo­ple to know they’re not alone and there are ser­vices here.

“We are at the Sa­le­yards with a group of peo­ple who maybe wouldn’t be the type to ap­proach us.

“The first step is the hard­est step but it is the most im­por­tant step. Don’t be afraid to reach out, don’t ever be afraid you’ll be judged or thought less of.”

Child and youth clin­i­cian Belinda Chan­dler said a big part of her role was mak­ing sure the com­mu­nity knew she was there.

“We don’t want to push our ser­vices on peo­ple but we want peo­ple to know they can ap­proach us,” she said. “We know how tough times can be but we want peo­ple to know we are on their side.”

If you or some­one you know needs help, phone Life­line on 13 11 14 or be­yond­blue on 1300 224 636.

PHOTO: ELLEN RANS­LEY

Men­tal health clin­i­cians Ju­lianne Ever­son and Belinda Chan­dler talk men­tal health aware­ness and open con­ver­sa­tion.

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