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MEDIA RELEASE: Calendar asking drought communities to ‘speak up’ on mental health

July 25, 2019

Rural communities know how to support one another and wrap their arms around each other in times of need. That is a key message being shared by one of 12 community leaders and members featured in a special edition calendar (financial year) being released this week.

The calendar aims to confront stigma, promote awareness of mental health support for people living in drought affected communities in the Darling Downs and West Moreton region. The calendar has been developed through a partnership between Neami National and the Darling Downs and West Moreton PHN under the Australian Government’s Empowering our Communities (EoC) Initiative.

The calendar shares the stories of community leaders like Carl and Glenda from Goondiwindi who help to identify and support community-led mental health initiatives for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members, and Mary from ‘Are you bogged mate?’ who helps country blokes talk about mental health and suicide.

Mary says, “Our community was rocked by two suicides quite close together and I felt compelled to do something. What rural communities do really well is wrap their arms around each other. The bottom line is that people are always there for you.”

Neami National Service Manager Lisa White says the calendar has been designed to show people that if they are going through a difficult time with the drought or other challenges in their life, support is available. Lisa encourages people to ‘speak up’ and ask for help.

“The calendar tells the story of 12 incredible community leaders and members who are working to support mental health in their communities or who have faced mental health challenges in their own lives. Many of these people have overcome their own barriers through seeking support and have improved their mental health,” says Ms White.

“Mental health affects everyone differently and the stories in this calendar are there to remind people that support is available when they need it and that there’s no shame in asking for help.”

The calendar features information about free, confidential support which is available throughout the Darling Downs and West Moreton region and is delivered over-the-phone, face-to-face or online.

Darling Downs and West Moreton PHN CEO Merrilyn Strohfeldt says that stigma can be a large barrier for people, particularly in regional and rural communities, seeking support.

“We know that a lot of our communities are going through a difficult time due to drought, and for our farmers and their communities this can contribute to poor mental health through social isolation and people ‘feeling alone’” Ms Strohfeldt said.

“This Calendar is an important tool that promotes awareness of mental health, addresses stigma, while also being a resource for people to find the right mental health support for them.” says Ms Strohfeldt

View a digital version of the calendar HERE

To request a calendar please email navigator@neaminational.org.au

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