Mental health services expo “amazing and valuable”

By Jason Irvine

School students and community members were treated to informative discussions surrounding mental health and wellbeing at the Broken Hill Mental Health Expo on Tuesday.

The event – organised by CatholicCare Wilcannia-Forbes Broken Hill Branch and held at the Civic Centre – was also attended by Home and Away and Neighbours actor and mental health advocate, Sam Webb, who is the Co-Founder and Co-CEO of mental health organisation, LIVIN – a charity he and friend Casey Lyons created following the unexpected death of a long-time friend to suicide in 2013.

Every 40 seconds, someone in the world takes their own life, and one in five people will experience mental illness each year, with many suffering in silence due to the stigma around mental health, and the lack of education and support on the topic.

Sam Webb speaks at the Broken Hill Mental Health Expo PICTURE: Jason Irvine

LIVIN helps to spread the word that “it ain’t weak to speak”, reaching over 198,000 people with their LIVIN Health Initiative across the country in schools, workplaces, and communities.

After speaking in front of crowd of roughly 160 people and telling his own personal story and the importance of looking after your mental health, Mr Webb said it was a privilege to be asked to come to Broken Hill and provide these talks, which continue a run of similar mental health expos he’s fronted in Parkes, Forbes, Orange, and Bathurst earlier this year.

“Coming out here to Broken Hill has been an absolute honour, I’m so grateful to be here,” Mr Webb told the Barrier Truth.

“CatholicCare Wilcannia-Forbes brought me out here to come right into the community here in Broken Hill with the local schools, local service providers. The impact is unquantifiable, you can’t put a number on the impact this outcome would have had on people’s lives.

“The outcome that I want people to know is, they’re better off being here and life is better worth living. I feel like everyone here has got the power to help, help themselves and potentially help someone in their life and everyone here is a human being and we’ve got to listen twice as much as we speak, and the importance of listening should never be forgotten.”

CatholicCare Wilcannia-Forbes Better Health and Wellbeing Portfolio delivery leader, Jodie Callegher, said it was a successful day and she was delighted with the turnout and the event’s impact.

“I think that the rollout of the day ended really well, we engaged probably around 160 members, students and community members, and Sam Webb’s talk was really straight to the point, amazing, some strong communication, but from my feedback from the kids and the services, everyone’s really enjoyed the day,” Ms Callegher said.

Sherrie Wilkins at Lifeline Broken Hill told us that the small town aspect allowed for different agencies to support each other in the collective goal of improving the conversation around mental health, and the support to the community.

“I think with Broken Hill, it’s wonderful how all the agencies work in with each other,” Ms Wilkins said.

“We’re part of a group, we’re all here to help community. The biggest problem is to know where to get help, so Lifeline comes, tells everybody what we do, we share our knowledge like all the other services around town, and I think it’s great that the help’s here if needed.”

Erin Reberger from Mission Australia also pointed to the benefit of attending events like these.

“We want to raise awareness around mental health and also build awareness within the community about the programs that we do provide and the services that we do offer,” Ms Reberger said.

“Sometimes I think unless you’re involved in the services you don’t know about the programs so it’s good to attend these events so we can get it into the community that there are supports available.”

The Benevolent Society’s Flora Ma, said, “we were invited to this event very proudly because we rarely get opportunities to connect with the local community because there are not many local events for disability service providers so it was a fantastic opportunity.

“It’s just getting to know each other more and knowing what other services are available especially to support the mental health population because that is a big area and also a big service gap in Broken Hill. Sometimes you kind of know what sort of services are available, but you don’t know what other programs they actually provide so this gives you a very fresh update of what they are doing, of what programs they would be rolling out.”

Airlie Gladman of the Royal Flying Doctors Wellbeing Place which offer services including counselling yoga, meditation, tai-chi and puzzles, said having people aware of the service itself was important.

“We’re here today just to make sure people are okay. It’s more just checking up on people today, making sure that they know we’re here for them and to offer pathways”, Ms Gladman said.

Service and Community Development Officer at headspace, Susanne Jones, also said the event was much-needed.

“Having a presence, young people then know that we’re here and that we care about them and that we have a ‘no wrong door’ policy,” Ms Jones said.

“You can come to headspace for anything that’s concerning, worrying you that you want to talk about. If we can’t help you, we will find someone who can. So being here is important to show that we’re here to support young people.”

Colby Staker from The Far West Mental Health Recovery Centre (also known as Neami National) that collaborates with many services for consumers in the Far West region, said, “I think today’s been a pretty profound, positive impact with all of the services coming together to break the stigma and just bring the awareness to our small community and opens up the conversations.”

Regan Chesterfield of Maari Ma also outlined the beauty of the day and event in determining the best fit of programs and support to clients.

“What I suppose we take away from today is that with regards to how someone is feeling is that there is always someone available,” Chesterfield said.

“I think that’s the beauty about today, is that all the interaction and engagement and other services getting to know what other services do and where the client might best fit, and so I think that’s really important and today’s been a really amazing and valuable day.”


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