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Archive 2014

Feburary

Learning how to ‘Read the Play’

rtp-longWHAT IS READ THE PLAY?

Read the Play is an innovative program which addresses the health and wellbeing of young people.

Read the Play was established in Geelong in 2006. It is designed for junior members of sport clubs and develops and raises mental health awareness.

The program is currently being delivered to under-15 football and netball clubs within the Murrumbidgee area covered by AFL NSW/ACT.

Read the Play is being implemented in partnership with the Rural Adversity Mental Health Program & Riverina Bluebell.

To find out more please contact:
Merilyn Limbrick, Read the Play NSW Coordinator M: 0428 249 719 T: 02 6951 0233 E:Merilyn.Limbrick@gsahs.health.nsw.gov.au

or visit our website
» http://www.readtheplay.org.au

Read_the_Play_Brochure | PDF 629kb
MLHD – AFL Read the Play | PDF 151kb

 

MOU signing today to deliver mental health awareness programs to young sporting teams in the Riverina

 MEDIA RELEASE

13 February 2014

An MOU will be signed at 12pm today at the AFL office in Wagga Wagga between Riverina Bluebell and an organisation from Geelong known as Kempe ‘Read the Play’ (www.readtheplay.org.au) to deliver mental health awareness programs to young sporting teams in the Riverina this year.

Merilyn Limbrick (Murrumbidgee Local Health District Board), Heather Sheather (Murrumbidgee Local Health District Board), Kevin Sheedy (AFL) and Chris Wilson (Riverina Bluebell) will attend the MOU signing and photo shoot today.

“READ the PLAY” is a mental health literacy program designed for the junior levels of sports clubs. It imparts information about mental illness through engaging the young players in fun and interactive games, thereby helping to remove the stigma and increase help seeking behaviour.

The program is delivered at the club by mental health workers, in conjunction with the club’s Player Wellbeing Officer. The format of the program is interactive and designed to engage young people through a series of team games. Participants engage in team based activities which develop a better understanding of mental illness, the value of looking after your mental health and the importance of early help seeking if there are signs and symptoms of emerging mental health problems.

The aims of ‘Kempe RTP’ are to help players to:

  • Understand about mental health problems
  • Know where to go for help
  • Feel more confident in seeking help
  • Support each other’s mental wellbeing

Why is it important?

Youth mental health is a significant and growing health issue in Australia. One in four young people aged 12-25 years have a mental illness; however, only one in four affected young people receive help.  In an attempt to address this issue David Langley from Kempe Engineering engaged Julie Arnall, Headspace Barwon Education Officer and Toni van Hammond, Headspace Barwon Manager; to develop a presentation aimed to improve the mental of young people in Geelong. The program was implemented during 2007 and has determined that utilising a sporting setting to deliver a mental health literacy program has been effective.

Who has been involved?

The Program is overseen by the Project Manager Emma Mooney and governed by the Kempe RTP Board. In Victoria the patron is Frank Costa; Ambassadors are Tegan Caldwel, NathanVardy and Eloise Southby-Hallbish with the Geelong Cats being the supporting AFL Club. Kempe Engineering, Bendigo Bank, Headspace Barwon, Barwon Medicare Local, Barwon Health, City of Greater Geelong, Rotary Club of Geelong, De Grandi Cycle & Sports, Telstra, and Buckley’s Entertainment Centre have partnered to support and sponsor the program.

Expansion into NSW

The Rural Adversity Mental Health Program have partnered with Riverina Bluebell to pilot the program during the 2014 AFL season in the Wagga & District and South West District Junior Football Leagues. AFL NSW/ACT and AFL Riverina will support RTP by identifying liaising with local clubs within the District.

After lengthy negotiations a Memorandum of Understanding between Riverina Bluebell and Kempe Read the Play is being signed. The MOU sets out the information and terms in relationship to establishing and managing the RTP program with integrity and professionalism..

Background

Merilyn Limbrick & Helen Sheather who are employed as Rural Mental Health Promotion Officers by the Murrumbidgee Local Health District met with representatives from the Kempe Read the Play (RTP) Board in May 2013 and reviewed a RTP Games Night that was held at Modewarre Football Club in Geelong. The Board identified that they are keen to expand the program and further develop the presentation to address the needs of rural NSW.

Please contact me if you have any queries.

Genevieve Smith

Mob 0414 848 846

 

An evening with Craig Hamilton

Presented by Riverina Bluebell in conjunction with Wagga Brothers Football Club

A tribute to Joe Howard

When: Friday 25th October 2013

Time: 6.30pm for 7.00pm start

Where: Football club rooms, Equex Centre

In conjunction with Wagga Brothers Rugby League Club we held a highly successful evening at their venue as part of our contribution to Mental Health month.We had Craig Hamilton as our guest speaker and also our own Chris Wilson.

Craig spoke to a captive audience where he outlined his own experiences dealing with depression and bipolar disorder.

Craig has been open, courageous and honest in his determination to tell his story, helping to sweep aside the clouds of silence, stigma and ignorance that has shrouded mental illnessHe has addressed some 300 functions in all states, he has written two books Broken Open and A Better Life which were sold on the night.

Committee members all agreed it was one of the best evenings we have held.

 

High profile sports media commentator to help target young men in Riverina with mental health message

 MEDIA RELEASE

8 October 2013

Young men from sporting clubs throughout the Riverina are being targeted to attend a special Mental Health Awareness Forum being held in Wagga Wagga later this month.

Riverina Bluebell, a local, not for profit, mental health awareness organisation has arranged for media commentator and motivational speaker Craig Hamilton to speak at a Mental Health Awareness Community Forum being held in Wagga Wagga on Friday 25 October.

Best known for his “Grandstand” Rugby League commentary, Craig has worked as a broadcaster for ABC Radio on the past 17 Grand Finals, the same number of State of Origin series and a number of Test Matches.

Craig has endured depression a number of times during his life.  In the year 2000, a few days  before he was due to broadcast live for ABC radio at the Sydney Olympic Games, Craig experienced a psychotic episode and was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. He spent 12 days in hospital and, since his recovery, has become one of Australia’s most high profile speakers on Mental Health and Lifestyle.

Mr John Bull, President of Riverina Bluebell said that Craig Hamilton’s profile in the sporting world would help to attract young men from throughout the Riverina who are at risk of depression and other mental health afflictions.

“The forum is open to everyone in our community however we know that young men in sporting clubs throughout the Riverina are facing mental health challenges and we are committed to reaching out to that demographic,” he said.

“Craig is well known to sporting fans and he has had some powerful experiences relating to mental health issues which we think will really resonate with the young men we are targeting with this forum.”

The forum will also form a tribute to Joe Howard who was an enthusiastic and passionate supporter of Riverina Bluebell and President of the local Brothers Rugby Club.  It will feature a short presentation from well known local identity Chris Wilson, a passionate supporter of Riverina Bluebell and its charter to assist people suffering with mental health problems. Chris’s warm wit and practical anecdotes help to break the ice with people who are struggling with mental health problems and do not know how to seek help.

Riverina Bluebell is offering free bus transportation from Tumut and Gundagai sporting clubs (if the numbers are warranted) to help facilitate attendance at the forum in Wagga Wagga from those areas.

In 2004 Random House released Craig’s highly acclaimed memoir “Broken Open” which gives a very personal account of living with Bipolar Disorder. His second book “A Better Life” was released last year.

Craig is now a much sought after speaker around Australia who explains what it’s like to battle a serious mental health illness. In sharing his story and experiences he offers hope to others and a greater  understanding generally in the community about mental illness.

The forum will be held at the Football Club Rooms in the Equex Centre in Wagga Wagga.  Craig will relate his personal journey with mental illness at the Riverina Bluebell Mental Health Awareness Community Forum , touching on topics including:

The role of a spouse/ friends  and family in recognising and supporting someone experiencing mental health issues

In his book, Broken Open, Craig dedicates a chapter to the courage and determination his wife showed during his most difficult times.  His family and friendships also provided key support to help him through his darkest days.  Craig’s wife was extremely honest about the frustration she felt when faced with Craig’s illness. Her strong love and commitment to Craig through his ordeal help to demonstrate that feelings of frustration are normal for people supporting friends and loved ones with mental illness.

The importance of leading a balanced life with enough rest, nutrition, gentle exercise (especially meditation and yoga) and time for friends and family

Craig had been burning the candle at both ends for many years in the lead up to the psychotic episode which saw him hospitalised. On reflection he believes he pushed himself to the limit by working seven days a week, partying hard, exercising and playing sport at top grade levels. He has since made substantial changes to his lifestyle to safe guard his health.

The stigma which is still attached to mental health issues

This seems to be diminishing however there are still all sorts of assumptions and prejudices against people suffering from mental illness which do not seem to apply to people suffering from physical ailments . . .

Tickets are limited and can be accessed through the Riverina Bluebell website for $5 each www.riverinabluebell.org.au Catering will be provided on the night with a cash bar.  Complimentary buses may be arranged from Gundagai and Tumut if there are a sufficient number of people wanting to attend from those locations.

For further information please contact Jane Lee on 0407 803720

Ends –

For media inquiries and to arrange an interview with Craig Hamilton, please contact:

Genevieve Smith

Mob 0414 848 846

 

Hamilton heads health forum

The Daily Advertiser

10 October 2013

WELL-KNOWN sports broadcaster Craig Hamilton will detail his personal battles with depression as part of a campaign to tackle mental illness among young men.

Mr Hamilton, a rugby league commentator for ABC Radio Grandstand, will be a guest speaker at a Riverina Bluebell forum to be held in Wagga on October 25.

 

Mental Health Consumer Forum in Narrandera

nswhealth-160wMurrumbidgee Local Health District (MLHD) is encouraging people from across the district to attend a FREE Mental Health Consumer Forum on Wednesday 19 March from 9:30am to 3:00pm at the Narrandera Ex-Servicemen’s Club.

The Forum is open to mental health consumers, or people who are currently undergoing care or treatment for mental health concerns. The focus of the day is on improving access for mental health consumers to appropriate services, addressing the stigma associated with mental health and recognising that a great deal can be done to promote a better understanding of mental health issues in the community.

Participants will be treated to the launch of the new Recovery Tool Kit (phase1) and a high profile line up of guest speakers.

Inspirational speakers include the NSW Deputy Commissioner of Mental Health Faye Jackson, Murrumbidgee Director of Mental Health Drug and Alcohol Robyn Manzie and local consumer advocates who will speak to the theme: “Take Back Ownership of your Recovery Journey”.

MORNING TEA AND LUNCH IS PROVIDED.

TO REGISTER, CALL JODIE ON 02 6058 1745

Murrumbidgee Local Health District’s Mental Health Consumer Advocate Matt Sainty says the day will be a productive and engaging experience for attendees.

“The forum will help consumers engage more effectively with mental health services,” said Mr Sainty. “They have nothing to lose and possibly everything to gain.”

If you, or someone you know may be experiencing mental illness phone Access Line on 1800 800944 (NSW callers) or 1300 881104 (Victorian callers).

Cost: FREE

Event contact details
Name: Jodie
Phone: 02 6058 1745

 

Music 4 Mates

m4m

Suicide awareness and prevention concert hosted by Coolamon Lions Club.

Coolamon Sports & Recreation Club

FREE ENTRY

Entertainers

Jack Thomspon, C&S, Radio Velvet and the Groove Factory featuring Troy Fisher, Jamie Way, Lauren Carlson and Sheyne Halloran.

Bring a chair, picnic rug and sun screen.

Black dog ride

bdr14-title

Black Dog Ride began in 2009 as one man’s ride to raise awareness of depression, evolving into a national movement of thousands of Australian motorcycle riders who have raised over $1,100,000 for mental health services, and fostering mental health awareness around the country. Join Steve as he continues his ride for awareness.

You can make a difference by joining us on a local ride at:

Wagga Motorcycle Centre

8.00am Check in and breakfast

9.30am Ride departs Wagga Motorcycle Centrr

1.00pm Finish Palm & Pawn Hotel, North Wagga

Register at http://www.blackdogride.com.au/

For more information contact:

Brett Parsell mob.0418 635 067, brett.parsell@bidpond.com

 Black Dog Ride flyer | PDF 62kb

March

Kapooka & JCC donations to promoting wellbeing

Left to right: Colonel David Hay, Commandant Kapooka Training Base, Jan Gray, Riverinal Bluebell, Mark Apps, Manager of Education & Training TAFE & Trevor Coles, Offender Services Manager Junee Correctional Centre.

Left to right: Colonel David Hay, Commandant Kapooka Training Base, Jan Gray, Riverinal Bluebell, Mark Apps, Manager of Education & Training TAFE & Trevor Coles, Offender Services Manager Junee Correctional Centre.

16th December 2013. $500 donation from Kapooka Training Base and Junee Correctional Centre from proceeds raised through the presentation of work made by inmates of Junee Correctional Centre.

Kapooka, JCC donation

16th December 2013.  Colonel David Hay, Commandant Kapooka Training Base presenting cheque to Jan Gray, Riverina Bluebell, from proceeds of sale of woodwork by inmates of Juneee Correctional Centre.

 Kapooka, JCC donation

16th December 2013.  Trevor Coles, Offender Services Manager Junee Correctional Centre presenting cheque to Jan Gray, Riverina Bluebell, from proceeds of sale of inmates woodwork.

Presentation of wood workwork & donations

Left to right: Colonel David Hay, Commandant Kapooka Training Base, Mark Apps, Manager of Education & Training TAFE & Trevor Coles, Offender Services Manager Junee Correctional Centre
16th December 2013. $500 donation from Kapooka Training Base and Junee Correctional Centre from proceeds raised through the presentation of work made by inmates of Junee Correctional Centre.

Navigating teen depression

teenCome to a free presentation brought to you by the Black Dog Institute & Riverina Bluebell.

You will learn about:

  • What is depression and bipolar disorder?
  • How to spot early warning signs in young people
  • When and where to seek help
  • How to support a young person you care about
  • How to build resilience

Developed by the Black Dog Institute, this one-hour presentation is suitable for parents, teachers and people who work with young people. Topics include signs and symptoms of depression and bipolar disorder, how to spot early warning signs in young people, when and where to seek help, how to support a young person you care about and how to build resilience in young people and provides a quality introduction to the subject. Attendance is free; donations are welcome.

Where: Club Tumut — Tumut Bowling Club. Upstairs function room.

For more information, please contact:

Zoe Sturt, Riverina Bluebell: zoe_1932@hotmail.com

http://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au

Flyer | PDF 537kb

 

Come & try – Cricket

In partnership with Cricket NSW, the Mental Health Sports Network invites you to come & tryyour hand at playing cricket in a modified format which is all about participation, fun and physical activity. You’ll be given free coaching and advice from accredited Cricket NSW coaches and get to test your n skills in a modified game of T20 Cricket.

When: 11am, Wednesday 2nd April 2014

Where: Bolton Park, Wagga Wagga

For further information and to register your interest email: frank.goodyer@sfnsw.org.au or

Phone 69259259

» Mental Health Sports Network

Come&try | PDF 210kb

 

CORES

coresCORES is a community based program which educates members of a local community how to intervene when they encounter a person they believe may be suicidal.

Developed by the Kentish Regional Clinic, Sheffield, Tasmania – CORES has been widely adopted in regional centres in Qld, SA, Tasmania, Victoria and more recently western NSW.

A CORES course coordinator provides one day education programs for between ten to fifteen community members . Community members are then trained to become local Team Leaders.  Progressively, CORES Team Leaders are encouraged to deliver the one day course to around 250 people in their local community.

The program empowers communities to watch out for each other and to:

  • Recognise the signs of suicide.
  • Intervene before a crisis occurs.
  • Lead the person at risk to the appropriate services.

The rural town of Hay in NSW introduced the CORES model three years ago following a number of suicides in the small community of 3000 people.The  results have been very positive and much needed training programs have now spread to Balranald.

Key Learning Outcomes

  • Raise awareness and knowledge of suicide; risk factors, signs and indicators,
  • diversity of pathways, protective factors.
  • Develop skills and confidence in communicating with individuals who may be at risk of or contemplating suicide.
  • Apply a framework to assess an individual’s risk of suicide.
  • Increase awareness and knowledge of local resources and support services to facilitate help-seeking behaviour.
  • Establish a network of individuals to provide personal and professional support.
  • Reflect on personal motivation for involvement in suicide prevention.

Key Topic Areas

  • Debunking and addressing myths about suicide.
  • Presenting and discussing facts about suicide and analogies that illustrate risk.
  • Signs and indicators of suicide.
  • Risk Assessment
  • Interventions and the limitations of your role.
  • Community resources and support services.
  • Scenarios and role plays for application of knowledge and development of skills.

To date, 4892 people have completed the CORES training and there have been 1033 reported/ known interventions since December 2010

CORES works in small regional communities because:

  • It fits with current systems – with existing professional support networks.
  • It enables community ownership.
  • Allows champions to shine.
  • It is accessible and educationally sound.

For further information about attending a community information session please email cores@riverinabluebell.org.au or phone Jan at mob. 0418 841 196

» CORES

» Community Response to Eliminate Suicide (CORES): a Rural, Suicide Awareness and Intervention Program.

Paper by Sharon Jones, Mark Stemm and Coralanne Walker Kentish Regional Clinic Inc., Sheffield, Tasmania; Eve De Silva, Alison Miles and Craig Zimitat School of Medicine, University of Tasmania.

CORES program | PDF 808kb

 

CASE bike ride -2014

case-2014-140x145On the 12th April 11, bicycle riders are heading off from Hay on an endurance journey which will take them to Griffith, Narrandera, Coolamon, Wagga Wagga, Gundagai, Yass and ultimately to Parliament House in Canberra. They are riding to support the Hay CASE initiative:

CASE – Community Action for Eliminating Suicide.

Their visit to Parliament will draw attention to the need for action to stop the devastating rate and impact of suicide on rural towns such as Hay.

Local riders are encouraged to join in the ride along the way (but please make sure you have your own insurance).

Major sponsor –Westpac

facebookCASECommunity Action for Eliminating Suicide.  A Hay initiative, based on the CORES program.

CASE bike ride
Saturday 12th April Hay to Griffith

Arrival: 2 – 3pm Westpac Bank, Banna Ave, Griffith. BBQ in front of Westpac

Contacts: George Der Matossian (Bank Manager) 0457 507755,

Peta Drummett (Headspace) 0438 658683.

Accommodation: Griffith Tourist Park

Sunday 13th April Griffith to Narrandera

Accommodation: Camellia Motel

Monday 14th April

Narrandera to Wagga….via Coolamon

Arrival: 2.30 – 3pm Westpac Bank, Baylis St. Wagga Wagga

BBQ in front of Westpac

Contacts: Christine Fealy (Bank Manager) cfealy@westpac.com.au

Attending (confirmed): Michael McCormack, Daryl Maguire, Rod Kendall

Accommodation: City Park Motel

Tuesday 15th April Wagga to Gundagai

Arrival: 2 – 3pm Westpac Gundagai (instore), 171 Sheridan St. Gundagai

Function upon arrival: TBA

Contact: John Morgan 6944 2392

Attending: Abe McAlister, Mayor

Accommodation: Sovereign Inn. 1 Tarcutta St.

Wednesday 16th April Gundagai to Yass

Arrival: 3 – 4pm

Westpac Bank, Comur St. Yass. BBQ in front of Westpac

Thursday 17th April Yass to Parliament House Canberra.

Evening reception Ainslie Football Club

Merging Minds conference – Wagga Wagga

 mm-2014Where drugs, alcohol and mental health meet. The conference theme for this year: Physical health

The conference is a combined initiative of the Riverina Comorbidity Committee and the Community Drug Action Team.

This is the third biennial Merging Minds Conference.  The previous conferences in 2010 and 2012 were a huge success, with 380 professionals, consumers and carers from across the region in attendance.  Attendees included clinicians, consumers, carers, support workers, rehabilitation workers, case managers, youth workers nurses, managers and academic staff.

30 free places have been allocated for consumers and carers.

For more information:

»  Murrumbidgee Medicare Local Limited

Keynote speakers: NSW Mental Health Commissioner John Feneley, Professor Tim Lambert, Professor of Psychiatry, Concord Clinical School, University of Sydney, Adam Zimmerman, Neami National

Venue: Kings Convention Centre,555 Kooringal Road, Wagga Wagga
To join the mailing list please email  mergingminds@mmll.org.au
mergingminds2014 | PDF 139kb

April

Wagga Takes 2 – supporting Riverina Bluebell

wwt2Thanks to Paul Galloway, the ‘Wagga Takes 2’ charity Initiative is once again raising money for Riverina Bluebell to continue its work promoting local for support for people struggling with mental illness.

Paul Galloway, left, with his singing partner Rebecca Hennessey at a fund raising morning tea with Riverina Bluebell Chair, Mac Armytage.

Grateful thanks to » Donors

galloway-hennessey-300wRiverina Bluebell applauds Paul for stepping up to the mic in 2014. This involves being coached by a professional singer to perform a duet at three concerts being held on 24, 25 and 26 of April this year in Wagga

The Wagga Takes 2 concept has been staged in Wagga annually for the past eight years and has raised more than $600,000 for charities in our community.

Concert tickets get sold out pretty quickly.

With thanks

Paul Galloway and Riverina Bluebell gratefully acknoweldge generous support to date from:

 

How to prevent suicidal behaviour in men

bdiThe Black Dog Institute is running two research projects on men and suicide. They are keen for friends and family of men who have survived a suicide attempt to get in touch to help with their project on how to prevent suicidal behaviours in men.

The projects are:

  1. ‘Doing What Comes Naturally’ looks at the positive strategies men use to pick themselves up when feeling down.
  2. ‘How to Prevent Suicidal Behaviours in Men’ focuses on understanding the factors that can interrupt suicide in men.

»  Black Dog Institute mens health

6th Australian Rural & Remote Mental Health Symposium

Date:  Wednesday, 12 November 2014 – 9:00am to Friday, 14 November 2014 – 5:00pm

The number of Australians experiencing mental health problems in rural and remote areas is estimated to be comparable to major urban centres. However, the rural and remote community faces a greater challenge with limited access to mental health services and support. The Symposium theme, The Practitioner’s Voice, seeks to give voice to those practitioners who are faced with these challenges on a regular basis.

Presenters will address recent impacts and future outcomes as we consider the following questions:

  • What is the lived experience of the practitioner in a rural or remote setting?
  • How can the voice of these practitioners be heard when decisions are made?
  • Can we ensure that rural and remote practice is considered in the distribution of resources?
  • In what ways can a practitioner be an effective voice for consumers located in rural and remote settings?
  • What are the barriers and enablers in attaining training for continued professional development points in rural and remote Australia?
  • Rural practitioners experience of the new graduate. Work ready or not?

Dates:  12th and 14th November 2014
Venue
:  Commercial Club, Albury
» http://anzmh.asn.au/rrmh/

CORES graduates

JanGray-NeilLarkin

Neil Larkin and Jan Gray garduate as CORES Team Leaders

Neil Larkin and Jan Gray garduate as CORES Team Leaders

Riverina Bluebell’s Jan Gray and CASE member, Neil Larkin, are new graduates of the CORES Team Leader training course.

Riverina Bluebell is supporting the introduction of CORES – Community Response to Eliminating Suicide – to towns across the Riverina, promoting the impressive model provided for us all through CASE – Community action for eliminating suicide – at Hay.


The Team Leader course is a four day course. As Jan reports, the first two days keep you on your toes:
Day 1 – 2: 8.30am til 5pm going through the training course manual & training systems with Coralanne Walker, Executive Officer CORES Australia .  We were also working at written assignments, rehearsing role plays and given presentations.
Day 3:  Ongoing practical training and then supervised presentation of the program to four local CASE members to assist in performance review.  Neil & Jan split the course & presented alternating segments.
Day 4: Presented the program to 17 Hay community members and one from Griffith. 
Jan: “Thankfully we graduated & so did they.”
Hay particpants included a GP (recently arrived in Hay) & his wife, 2 paramedics & a health professional from Griffith. Also 2 year 12 girls from Hay High School which was terrific.

Hay particpants included a GP (recently arrived in Hay) & his wife, 2 paramedics & a health professional from Griffith. Also 2 year 12 girls from Hay High School which was terrific.

 

Charity cricket 2013 – shield

The Annual cricket match was held on Saturday 26th. October at  the Adjungbilly Ground  6 district teams competed for the Cameron Jackson Memorial Trophy. Competition was keen in the matches, the final was won by the Gobarralong Goannas. The day was a financial success with the proceeds shared between Joe Howards Children Trust and Riverina Bluebell. A big thank you to the Graham Family for making this day possible.

May

Applauding Paul Galloway & sponsors

wwt2Riverina Bluebell applauds the impressive fundraising efforts of Paul Galloway at this years ‘Wagga Takes 2’ charity Initiative. In support of Riverina Bluebell, Paul spent three nights in late May, struttin’ his stuff at the grand, Kildare College Hall. A huge smile was plastered on every face in the house as Paul carried us all with him (and Michael Jackson), mooonwalking, gyrating and jiving around the stage with partner Rebecca Hennessey.

galloway-hennessey-300w

The Wagga Takes 2 concept has been staged in Wagga annually for the past eight years and has raised more than $600,000 for charities in our community.

With thanks

Paul Galloway and Riverina Bluebell gratefully acknoweldge generous support to date from:

June

Wesley LifeForce suicide prevention seminar

 Every year more than 2,000 Australians take their own life.

Wesley LifeForce Suicide Prevention Services is dedicated to helping reduce the rate of suicide in Australia by teaching suicide intervention skills to community members. Since 1995 we have delivered training to over 20,000 Australians.

The free suicide prevention workshops teach people how to identify the signs of those at risk and teach simple, effective interventions that can save lives.

Youth suicide is taking a significant toll on communities throughout Australia.  Suicide is the leading cause of death for males and females aged 15-44 in Australia. Teachers and parents are in a unique position to assist young people struggling with mental health, bullying and other issues that can lead to suicide

Wesley LifeForce invites you to a free Wesley LifeForce suicide prevention seminar at Australian Rules Club – Corner Fernleigh and Glenfield Roads, Wagga Wagga on Wednesday 4 June 2014 from 6pm – 8.30 pm.  This seminar is made possible with the financial assistance of The Australian Rules Club Wagga Wagga.

Register:

http://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/na-3142-wesley-lifeforce-suicide-prevention-2-hr-seminar-wagga-wagga-nsw-tickets-10918392205

For further information please call 1800 100 024.  The training is open to community members aged over 18 years.

Refreshments will be provided.

 

New website gives young people options

 From the Mental Health Commission of NSW, 1 April 2014:

Listen-mateA new online resource for young people developed by the NSW Youth Advisory Council and the NSW Mental Health Commission was launched today by Minister for Mental Health, Kevin Humphries and Minister for Citizenship and Communities, Victor Dominello at the NSW Youth Week Minding Our Mental Health Forum.

» Announcement

» Make a mate’s day – LOOK –  LISTEN – TALK – SEEK HELP

The Makeamatesday website has been developed in response to recent research in the Crossroads Report developed by EY and ReachOut.com by Inspire Foundation, which found more people, especially young people, are seeking online and peer-based services to support their mental health.

August

Navigating teen depression INSIGHT – Coolamon

bdiDate: Friday, 12 September 2014 – 9:00am

Where: Coolamon Central School

When: September 12th 2014 High School Students
September 12th 2014 6.30pm for 7.00pm For parents, staff & community

ntd

Flyer | PDF 857kb

INSIGHT – Hay

bdiWhere: Spirit of Anzac Centre, Hay War Memorial High School

When: September 10th 2014 6.30pm for 7.00pm For parents, staff & community

September 11th 2014 Students Hay War Memorial High School

Flyer | PDF 841kb

Navigating teen depression – Hay

bdiDate: Wednesday, 10 September 2014 – 9:00am to Thursday, 11 September 2014 – 5:00pm

Where: Spirit of Anzac Centre, Hay War Memorial High School

When: September 10th 2014 6.30pm for 7.00pm For parents, staff & community
September 11th 2014 Students Hay War Memorial High School

 

Bledisloe on the big screen supporting Riverina Bluebell

 Murrumbidgee Turf Club is hosting a non-racing event on Saturday 16 August. Bledislo Cup On the Big Screen will showcase the new MTC big screen and the great rivalry between Australia and New Zealand.

The function is also raising funds for Riverina Bluebell.

“Riverina Bluebell is grateful to be recieving gold coin donations from the MTC event,” Chairman Mac Amytage said.

“Promoting our organisation at these types of events also helps raise awareness of mental health issues.”

September

Mental Health Week

Date: Sunday, 5 October 2014 (All day) to Sunday, 12 October 2014 (All day)

There are a number of events planned for Mental Health Week. Some events:

ABC TV and radio

Mental Health Week, from 5 – 12 October, Mental As… sees the best of ABC programming focus on mental illness, health and wellbeing – on TV, radio, online and mobile.

And on World Mental Health Day, the ABC is throwing a party for a great cause. Australia’s biggest personalities – comedians, actors, sportspeople, musicians and politicians – will be doing stuff you never knew they could, to show their support for Mental Health Week and to encourage the Australian public to take action, start talking and to give to mental health research.

Broadcast live on Mental Health Day, Friday 10 October at 7.30pm

October

Riverina Bluebell targets fathers & sons

Media release 21 October 2014

RIVERINA BLUEBELL TARGETS FATHERS AND SONS
FOR EVENING WITH JOE WILLIAMS

Riverina Bluebell, a not for profit organisation focused on raising awareness of mental health issues, is targeting fathers and sons to attend a special evening featuring international boxing champion and former rugby league player  Joe Williams, being held at the RSL Club on Wednesday 29 October from 5.30pm.

Williams was recently featured in a short film called ‘The Enemy Within’ which exposed the successful sportsman’s ongoing battle with depression.  Following its premier at WaggaFest last week, the film has had more than 3,000 hits online and was featured on the NRL website nrl.com.

Williams has partnered with Riverina Bluebell to stage a community forum where he will speak in detail about his ongoing battle with depression in an effort to reduce the stigma often associated with mental illness. Other speakers from Riverina Bluebell will also present at the event and the film will be screened for the attendees.

Chairman of Riverina Bluebell, Mr Mac Armytage said the event had been organised to appeal to fathers and their sons.
“Males, particularly young males in our community, often find it hard to speak about their feelings and to seek help if they are suffering from depression,” he said.

“As a revered sportsman, Joe Williams is an ideal spokesperson and ambassador to help promote greater awareness of mental health issues among this demographic.”

“We hope the event will provide a conducive environment for fathers and sons to start a dialogue about these issues to ensure that there is open communication and an understanding about the importance for people to seek help if they are in trouble.”

Williams said that there is a need for young men in the community to understand that suffering from mental illness is not a sign of weakness or failure.

“Some of the toughest people and the most successful people have suffered from mental illness,” he said.

“I hope that by talking about my experiences I can demonstrate that people from all walks of life suffer from depression.”

“My goal is to help young people understand that there is help available and that they are not alone.”

“The major hurdle is recognising and admitting you are in trouble, then you can start working on constructive ways to manage your illness,” he said.

The event is free and refreshments will be available.  For further information, please visit www.riverinabluebell.org.au

Riverina Bluebell is a not-for-profit, volunteer, community organisation which aims to link people living in the Riverina to the help, support and resources they need to manage mental illness.

Riverina Bluebell has a number of initiatives in place to leverage the popularity of sport to help reach young people in the Riverina area with information about mental illness.  The Riverina Bluebell Cup has been staged for the past five years to raise awareness of mental health issues and promote local support services to young people.  AFL matches, netball matches and rugby matches are held between clubs from Narrandera, Leeton, Ariah Park/ Ardlethan, and Marrar.

Read the Play is a program being implemented in partnership with the Rural Adversity Mental Health Program & Riverina Bluebell. The program is currently being delivered to under-15 football and netball clubs within the Murrumbidgee area covered by AFL NSW/ACT.

Williams has spoken at a number of secondary schools in Wagga Wagga and has been approached by a number of high schools in Albury to speak to students. He hopes that other schools in the Riverina also invite him to visit and speak to their pupils about this important issue.

For further information, please contact Genevieve Smith Mob 0414 848 846

 

“The enemy within” – an evening with Joe Williams

jw-boxing-300wDate: Wednesday, 29 October 2014 – 5:30pm

International boxing champion and former professional rugby league player, Joe Williams will speak about his personal battle with depression at a special event being presented by Riverina Bluebell. The Enemy Within, a short film which documents Joe’s perspective on mental health issues, will  also be screened at the event.

Time: 5.30pm till 7.30pm
Date: Wednesday 29 October
Venue RSL Club Wagga

The event is free and light refreshments will be served. Representatives from Riverina Bluebell will speak about mental health and answer questions. Joe will perform music during the evening.

If you would like to attend this event, please email committee@riverinabluebell.org.au for catering purposes.

Recovery Program Wagga Wagga

hope-160w

The recovery program is an 8 week residential course of education, practical living skills, care coordination and support.

 

What is mental illness?

9 tips to improve wellbeing

A list of simple tips that you can use to look after your mental health.

» REACHOUT.com

8 tips for good mental health

» mindhealthconnect

The terms mental illness or mental disorder describes a group of illnesses that can affect a person’s thinking, mood, behaviour, memory and their perception of reality. It impacts the sufferer’s ability to work, have relationships and carry out everyday tasks. Mental illness affects people differently and for some it will be mild and last for only a short time, while for others it will be severe and debilitating. Some sufferers will experience their illness only once but for others their mental illness may come and go throughout their life.

There are many types of mental illness including depression, anxiety, substance use disorders, personality disorders, psychotic disorder, eating disorders and trauma-related disorders.

Mental illness is very common with one in five Australians affected each year. Sufferers may develop symptoms very quickly or experience subtle changes over time. Suicide rates are high among mentally ill – around 10% of sufferers eventually die by suicide. The stigma and discrimination often associated with mental illness may also contribute to the high rates of suicide.

Exactly what causes mental illness is not clear but is believed to be the result of complex interactions between the mind, body and environment. Factors such as stress, biological factors (genetics, chemistry, and hormones), alcohol and drug use, self-esteem and social factors such as isolation, financial pressure, and violence, are all through to contribute to the development of mental illness.

Each mental illness needs specific treatments but most can be treated and managed with counselling, medications and community support.

Reference/s:

SANE  » http://www.sane.org
mindhealthconnect   » http://www.mindhealthconnect.org.au
Better Health Channel   » http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au
Western Australian Mental Health Commission   » http://www.mentalhealth.wa.gov.au

 

What is mental illness?

 The terms mental illness or mental disorder describes a group of illnesses that can affect a person’s thinking, mood, behaviour, memory and their perception of reality. It impacts the sufferer’s ability to work, have relationships and carryout everyday tasks. Mental illness affects people differently and for some it will be mild and last for only a short time, while for others it will be severe and debilitating. Some sufferers will experience their illness only once but for others their mental illness may come and go throughout their life.
There are many types of mental illness including depression, anxiety, substance use disorders, personality disorders, psychotic disorder, eating disorders and trauma-related disorders.

Mental illness is very common with one in five Australians affected each year. Sufferers may develop symptoms very quickly or experience subtle changes over time. Suicide rates are high among mentally ill – around 10% of sufferers eventually die by suicide. The stigma and discrimination often associated with mental illness may also contribute to the high rates of suicide.

Exactly what causes mental illness is not clear but is believed to be the result of complex interactions between the mind, body and environment. Factors such as stress, biological factors (genetics, chemistry, and hormones), alcohol and drug use, self-esteem and social factors such as isolation, financial pressure, and violence, are all through to contribute to the development of mental illness.

Each mental illness needs specific treatments but most can be treated and managed with counselling, medications and community support.

Sources: Western Australian Mental Health Commission, MindHealth Connect, Better Health Channel, SANE. (These should be linked to their pages I suppose)

www.sane.org

www.mindhealthconnect.org.au

www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au

www.mentalhealth.wa.gov.au

Tips on improving mental health

A list of simple tips that you can use to look after your mental health.

http://au.reachout.com/9-tips-to-improve-your-wellbeing

8 tips for building good mental health

http://www.mindhealthconnect.org.au/tips-good-mental-healt

 

Sunflower House – services & support groups

 Sunflower House offers non-clinical, psych-social services to people with mental illness. Their services including hosting a serious of support groups.
  • Members of Sunflower House (for people who use Sunflower House services) meets at Sunflower House each Thursday at 11:30am for discussions, monthly BBQ, guest speakers and outings.

Contact Michelle or Pedr Ph 6931 8770.

  • Carers Group for those who care for, or know someone with a mental illness. Meets first Thursday of each month in the Wollundry Room at the Senior Citizens Centre, Tarcutta street, Wagga 7:00 to 9:00pm.

Contact Carmel 6922 3862.

  • Support After Suicide for those bereaved after suicide. Meetings are held in the day one month and the evening the next month. Both meetings are held at the RSL Club in Dobbs Street, Wagga. If coming for the first time or if support via phone is needed, please contact:

Nola 6922 4438 (AH) Val 6921 4470, or Margaret 6926 1177.

Sunflower House

4 the Esplanade WAGGA WAGGA NSW 2650

Phone: 02 69318770

Hours: 9.00am – 5.00pm Monday to Friday

Service Description: Sunflower House offers non-clinical, psych-social services to people with mental illness.

Personal Helpers and Mentors Service (PHaMs)

People aged 16 and over (living in 2650 or 2651 postcode areas) whose ability to manage daily activities and live independently is severely impacted as a result of severe mental illness are able to access this service. Five F/T staff members are employed, each with a case-load of 12 people. A PHaMs Worker provides direct and personalised assistance through outreach to help participants in their recovery journey, reconnecting with their community, family, and carers as appropriate.

Day to Day Living (D2DL)

This program also targets those with persistent and severe mental illness who have a functional disability and/ or social isolation. It consists of social, recreational and educational activities both at Sunflower House and in the wider community. Clients supported under D2DL may also be participants in PHaMs. A monthly program of activities available at Sunflower House

Resource and Recovery programs offer seamless transition for clients of D2DL/PHaMs into engagement with wider community groups and organisations. A priority is the increased ability for those with mental illness to participate in employment, education and training as well as being able to access accommodation.

Carer Assist provides information, education, advocacy and support for people who care for someone with a mental illness. Carer Assist also offers support for the children of parents with a mental illness. Please contact Jenny McCurdy or Leonie Cain at 34 Johnston St. Ph 6925 9399. Fax 6921 1290

 

I need information

Black Dog Institute – http://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au
The Black Dog Institute is a world leader in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mood disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder.

This site provides detailed information about different forms of mental illness, their treatment and where you can go for additional information.

beyondblue – http://www.beyondblue.org.au/

beyondblue has many resources and tools about various forms of mental illness and their treatment.

For teens

Kids Helpline – http://kidshelp.com.au/
Kids Helpline is Australia’s only free, private and confidential telephone and online counselling service specifically for young people aged between 5 and 25.

eheadspace – https://www.eheadspace.org.au/
eheadspace is a confidential, free and secure space where young people 12 – 25 or their family can chat, email or speak on the phone with a qualified youth counsellor

biteback  – http://www.biteback.org.au/
BITE BACK is an ever-changing space where you can discover ways to amplify the good stuff in life and share real and personal stories with others.

reachout.com – http://au.reachout.com/
ReachOut.com helps under 25s with everyday questions through to tough times.

youth beyondblue –  http://www.youthbeyondblue.com
Going through tough times? Stress, anxiety and feeling down can affect anyone, and in fact happens to a lot of us at some point in our lives.

Make a mate’s day – http://www.makeamatesday.com.au
It can be tough knowing how to help a mate you’re worried about. There are few things you can do like, for changes, to your mate, about what’s happening, and together.

Intereach ROAR Program – http://www.intereach.com.au/

ROAR is a new program that aims to improve the emotional health and wellbeing of children and young people.

It provides early intervention support to people up to the age of 18, and their families, who may be showing early signs of, or are at risk of developing a mental health issue.

 

Support after suicide group – monthly meeting

 Date: Friday, 12 December 2014 – 12:00pm

Venue: Meeting Room 1, RSL Club.

Aim of the group
Our primary concern is to provide and foster mutual support for those bereaved after suicide.  We do this through sharing our stories, the pain of loss, the things that frustrate, annoy or help us to cope with living without the person we love.  The abrupt ending of a life by suicide leaves special scars on those left behind.  For some people, being with others who have a common experience can be helpful.

» Support after suicide group

 

Support after suicide group

The Support After Suicide Group is attached to Friends of Sunflower House.
4 The Esplanade, Wagga Wagga  NSW  2650
Phone 6931 8770 or 0422 371 322 – Fax 6931 8771

“Learn from those who have experienced healing after loss.  Their survival is reassuring proof that you, too, will endure.”       

From “Grief Therapy” edited by Karen Katafiasz

 

Aim of the group
Our primary concern is to provide and foster mutual support for those bereaved after suicide.  We do this through sharing our stories, the pain of loss, the things that frustrate, annoy or help us to cope with living without the person we love.  The abrupt ending of a life by suicide leaves special scars on those left behind.  For some people, being with others who have a common experience can be helpful.

Proposed Changes to our Day Gatherings in 2015
We will be holding our day Gatherings in 2015 at 58 Plumpton Road either on a Friday or Saturday afternoon at 2pm.  Our evening meetings will still be held at the RSL Club on a Wednesday evening commencing at 6pm.  We would appreciate receiving your feedback on the proposed new time for the day meetings. Which day would you prefer – Friday or Saturday? Contact Sandra or Nola (see below)

Contact people
If you need to talk to someone, the following people are more than happy to offer support and a listening ear. It may be around the time of an anniversary or it might just be one of those days when it is all too hard.

Nola Baker – ph. 6922 4438
David & Sandra Schulz – ph. 6922 3823
Margaret Langfield – ph.6926 1177

See upcoming events calendar for monthly meetings coming up.

November

A carers story

holdhands

Have the patience to allow negative moments, and foster positive ones when the time is right.

My story is about being a carer for my daughter with ABI, Acquired Brain Injury.

It goes without saying her altered life was not to her liking at a time when she should have expected “the world”.

From having to re learn all over, from breathing, swallowing,  remembering, speaking, to ultimately walking.  When the outward appearance is “normal” it is more difficult to see the hurt from within.

Have the patience to allow negative moments, and foster positive ones when the time is right.

In the roller-coaster of life it can be difficult to always look on the bright side. However the “job “ of caring is extremely rewarding .

 

Toughest fight

“There are some days that are worse than others, days I don’t want to get out of bed but I am learning how to manage that.”

Daily Liberal
8 October 2014

By Mark Rayner

Williams reveals struggles in hope to help others.

JOEWilliams has revealed that an ongoing battle he had with depression came to a head during his time with Dubbo CYMS and he attempted suicide before admitting himself to a mental health ward. The talented rugby league star turned boxer has chosen to speak out about his battles in the hope others will learn from him and it was during his time in Dubbo that he was worst affected, despite the success his team was experiencing on the field.

“When I was coaching Dubbo CYMS and making the grand final, I was really struggling. We had made the semi-finals and I approached the club to get a week off and I had to be admitted to a mental health ward,” he said.

“People like Kevin Walkom and Luke Jenkins were great to me and Neil Milgate was another one I confided in. They were as dumbfounded as anyone that I was suffering but it shows it can happen to anyone in any walk of life.

“During that year I had an unsuccessful suicide attempt and I wrote letters to my children and sent text messages to the mothers of my children.

“I did everything in my power to end it because I couldn’t see any other option.”

Williams said he now recognised he had been suffering from depression for a long time but early on, he didn’t recognise it and thought his situation was normal.

“For as long as I can remember it has been there. From when I was a kid and when I was playing in the NRL,” he said.

“I found I was really struggling with expectation and it wasn’t expectation from others, it was the expectation I was placing on myself.

“It’s something I know now that it’s not going to get away and I look at it that I’m not trying to beat it, I’m just trying to manage it.

“There are some days that are worse than others, days I don’t want to get out of bed but I am learning how to manage that.”

Williams credits most of his turnaround to his partner Courtney Merritt and his children.

“My fiance Courtney is the reason I am still here. She’s an inspiration to me. She overcame leukaemia and cancer and lost her mother when she was a child and that has shown me that I can overcome my battles too,” he said.

“I am grateful that I am still here and I want to make the most of my second chance.

“I want my kids to grow up with a dad. I’m glad I can talk to them all the time and they know they can talk to me.”

One of Williams’ best cures for his depression has been sport. He gave up rugby league after CYMS’ grand final loss in 2012 and began to concentrate on boxing, where he has been incredibly successful.

He returned to football this year with the Wagga Brothers but says boxing is his true passion and he will have another fight in Wagga on Saturday, October 18 against Indonesian fighter Rusmin Kie Raha.

“It’s been proven that exercise helps and for me that is true,” he said.

“When I’m training hard and I’ve got a goal, that is when I’m best.

“It’s when I’ve got too much time and start to think that I get down.

“My training has been fantastic. I’ve had a great preparation for this bout. I was carrying a bit more weight because I played footy this
year but I’ve worked hard to shed that and I’m ready to go.”

 

Riverina farmer’s 15 year battle with depression

For 15 years, farmer Chris Wilson would stand in the paddock above his home and dread the thought of walking through the front door. Once he did set foot inside, it could take him three days to drag himself off the couch. He knows now that he was suffering from depression.
Listen» Listen
» Bush Telegraph + comments

From ABC RNBush Telegraph
8 October 2014

‘I had an ache inside for years that I didn’t understand.’

Sitting inside the home that he once so dreaded entering, Chris Wilson can now talk openly about his descent into depression.

‘It was like a long, slow walk into cold water. You’re up to your neck before you realise you’re in trouble.’

At its worst, Wilson’s depression had him contemplating suicide.

‘I’d be driving along in the ute or laying around at home, and the thought of ending my life actually would bring this sense of calm and a bit of peace within me,’ he says.

‘I never designed a situation like that, but I felt the tantalising effect of relief from this inner pain.’
It was like a long, slow walk into cold water. You’re up to your neck before you realise you’re in trouble.

   
Living on a farm outside the south-east New South Wales town of Wagga Wagga, Wilson would find himself on the couch for days, slumped in a cycle of watching television he hated and unable to even get up for hours, even to get a drink.

When he was able to step out of his front door, finally seeing natural light would immediately lift him.

‘Just driving around the farm, I’d instantly feel better,’ he says.

‘Then I’d turn around and get to the top of the hill and see that damn house, and it would drive me insane. I hated it.’

Despite his prolonged struggle, Wilson became skilled at hiding his illness from his family.

He recalls the moment his sister first sat him down and he admitted to her that he was suffering depression.

The relief in sharing his burden was quickly tempered by her suggestion they should call a psychologist right there and then.

Wilson made an excuse, stepped outside briefly, walked to his ute and drove away.

‘To confront my issue was to add more stress to my life, and at this stage, I couldn’t handle more stress.’

‘There was no way I could actually contact someone about it, it was just too confronting.’

It took three months before he spoke about the issue again.

This time, his sister locked the doors and windows of his house and insisted that this was the time.

‘It was like I put a white flag up,’ he says.

‘I just can’t do this anymore. I’m buggered. I’ve got to do something about it.’

He recalls randomly flicking through the phone book looking for psychologists. He still doesn’t know why he chose the one he did.

He called the number, spoke to the receptionist and booked in a session.

‘I hung up the phone and turned around to my sister and I started crying.’

‘I said, “you’ve just saved my life.” She really did. I couldn’t cope any longer. I was finished, I was done.’

Now Wilson is prepared to share his story with anyone who asks.

When he’s not harvesting grain or feeding sheep, he spends his time sharing his experience with the Wagga Wagga community in the hope that other men struggling with their mental health will not wait 15 years to ask for help.

Petals Unfolding

“A successful life is one that is lived through understanding and pursuing one’s own path, not chasing after the dreams of others… “

A diagnosis of breast cancer marks the beginning of a journey full of emotional, psychological, physical and sobering challenges.

My personal journey started on the 5th September 2013 when I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

My internal “make over” began just prior to my cancer diagnoses. A redundancy in my job in June and my family relationships were in turmoil. I didn’t love myself and I wasn’t living my truth and it was debilitating on all levels of my life.

When I was diagnosed on that day in spring, I sat in the doctor’s chamber reflecting and thinking I have manifested breast cancer through negative thoughts, stress, anxiety and depression in my body, mind and spirit. Dis-ease branded across my forehead was an awkward reminder that I needed to change my life.

When you are presented such a big wakeup call you stop and listen! My life was automatically thrust into an intensive self-healing journey. It was vital to re-evaluate my whole life and so I did for the next following year.

I spent time in nature, I undertook self-analysis, deep inner reflection and journal writing, letters to loved ones, self-esteem workshops, holistic therapies and I learnt to accept, forgive myself and others. I let go of past regrets and guilt and hidden truths and resolved inner sadness. I was taking personal responsibility, examining and releasing bad habits that no longer served me. I was forming new rules to live by and leaving my painful past behind. At times I felt like I was shedding skin like a re- born snake.

Through deep reflection, I created my own life plan and new pathway on how I would live my life and I discovered in the process my “life purpose”. Through positive energy work, daily affirmations, pray and regular meditation practice my reality unfolded and the “fog” that was my life was finally lifting. I discovered stillness of the mind through meditation, my mind was finally quiet, and my inner emotions subsiding like ice melting in the snow. In the early stages of stillness &/meditation I felt like a weakened windswept tree, my legs ached and numbness & tingling waved all over my body, an aching heart and salty tears surrounded me during many of my sittings.

I had so many people assist me on this climb and for the very first time I “asked for help”. The compassion and kindness from practioners and the self determination of my own spirit made my life easier during this challenging life transition.   I will always be so grateful for their comforting support and guidance and for being able to regain my life back.

I had a mastectomy on my right breast on the 1st April 2014 (April fool’s Day!!! I am sure there is a hidden message) and it all went smoothly, so now my forecast is to live life to the fullest. I am the happiest I have ever been and my mind and body are living in peace & harmony. My cancer road was a demanding reminder that I needed to remember “who I was” and live my life on purpose. I announce joyously that I am now a willing warrior of breast cancer.

I am planning a trip overseas to celebrate my greatness and the love of myself.  I will change my career and plan to study to become a Transpersonal Art Therapist to empower, teach and help others.

My new Motto: “I dreamed a thousand paths; I woke and walked my own”

In an elegant crystal vase sitting gracefully on a table I observed the petals of a tightly budded rose unfold.  I could see myself as the bud, many hidden talents and inner resources; my own petals were unfolding into gems of outward wisdom.

 

Small talk

“I just don’t know what to do, doc. My body’s buggered and I can’t afford hired help. Jack’s in his last year at boarding school, but what’s he gonna come home to?”
Writer Amanda Burdon was moved to write this fictional piece after undertaking SCARF Community Education Program training. The training is aimed at everyone playing a role in preventing suicide. SCARF is an acronym for Suspect, Connect/Care, Ask, Refer, Follow-up.

» About SCARF

Small talk

The people outnumber the dog-eared magazines in the waiting room three to one. The doctor calls his next patient, but barely notices the crumpled man emerge from the dense camouflage of brown jackets and blue jeans. Good clothes, saved for trips to town.

A calloused handshake, a wary smile. “It’s been a while. How’s that back going after your fall?” “Alright. Still catches me now and then. Still gettin’ headaches.”

There is an awkward silence as they walk to the small room, shut the door and settle into their chairs. The doctor asks about the prospect of rain. He watches the farmer shift in his seat, struggling to find a reply. Looking to his boots, as though they might – somehow – deliver a promising forecast.

“It’s gotta rain soon, doc. This shoulder’s been killin’ me.” He winces as he prizes off his jacket and shirt to reveal a beige singlet. “Bloody bore water makes everything brown. Edith’s always complain’n.”

His skin is white, just like a baby’s, the doctor observes. Rarely sees the sun. Pity you couldn’t say the same for his face and hands, covered in sunspots and freckles. That black mark on his cheek looks like trouble. Mental note: full skin check at next appointment. The deltoid is tight, tension at the back of the neck. Ahhhh! No wonder he’s suffering headaches. Arm extension limited. How the hell does he ride a horse? Or lift a hay bale?

“Sleeping okay?” “A few hours a night.” “How would you rate the shoulder pain out of 10?” “Oh, about four or five.” “Having a few beers at night?” He nods. “Helps me get to sleep.”

“And what about your diet? Are you eating properly?” “Haven’t got much of a stomach for food lately. Too much to do, watering and feeding the stock and all.” “How would you describe your mood?” Silence.

“Short-tempered? A bit forgetful? Cranky all the time?” The older man nods again, begrudgingly and picks at a scab on his arm. He checks his watch. The mob will be going under the hammer soon. How much more time will that buy? Edith should have finished the shopping by now. She’ll be wondering where I am.

A cup of strong, black, coffee – I’m going to need one soon if I’m going to make it through to lunchtime, the doctor thinks, logging his notes into the computer. Ah, the joys of computers. Anti-inflammatories, referral to the OT at the hospital; that should do it. Where’s my script pad?

Then, from nowhere… “I just don’t know what to do, doc. My body’s buggered and I can’t afford hired help. Jack’s in his last year at boarding school, but what’s he gonna come home to? More bloody debt. Even the ’60s drought didn’t break my father’s back. Four generations. Four generations ending with me. A bloke oughta just…”

He stops short. Frightened by the words that might tumble – like shorn sheep from the chute – out of the mouth of a man he no longer recognises. A man who looks 10 years older as he pulls the blunt razor across his jaw each morning.

He pulls a hanky from his pocket. Lavender. Edith reckons it beats the caustic bore smell. That woman. The doctor waits.

“I’ve been to the bank. Harry Black says he can give me six months, nothin’ more. Our backs are to the wall. If we don’t get rain soon…”

The doctor’s computer screen bleats. His next patient is due. It’s barely 10am. He’s the only doctor on today and due back at the hospital at 1pm for his rounds after a busy night on call. And already running late. Bloody back-to-back rosters.

Yet something in him shifts. He turns to the man opposite him, who is now staring at him beseechingly. He sees the tiredness in his red eyes, the tightness in his jaw. He registers the nervous way he now wipes his glasses with his chequered hanky, again, and again. Catches a whiff of Edith’s floral disguise. Narelle on reception is not going to be happy.

“These are tough times, Bob. I can give you something, just ’til your travelling a little better, if you like. A lot of blokes need a hand from time to time, you know. Just a few milligrams to take the edge off. And some pain relief for the shoulder. Some counselling might help, too, for you and Edith both. I bet you’re not the only one struggling.

“Have you met Sandy Harris at tennis? Well, she’s a psychologist and a damn good one – Ted Harris’s daughter. You might remember her from pony club. Easy to talk to, knows a thing or two about farming. I’ll just make a call. Won’t take a minute. She can probably see you this week if you can get back in to town. How about a cuppa while you wait?”

For the first time in what seems like months the farmer feels his face slacken, his shoulders sink. He sniffles and again meets the doctor’s gaze. “That’d be good, thanks doc. Haven’t had a thing since five this morn’n. The coffee’s shit at the saleyards.”

Published with permission of R.M. Williams Outback Magazine » http://www.outbackmag.com.au

» R.M. Williams Outback Magazine, Issue 96

Mental health champion

On depression: “You have no light, because no light is able to shine in,” she says. “You can also hardly breathe, yet you have to try to continue functioning and navigate your way through the darkness.”
Grab the thickest, heaviest, grey woollen blanket you can find. Soak it in steaming hot water, and completely cover yourself with it while lying in bed. Then, try to climb out and go about your normal day with that suffocating weight hanging over you. Queensland’s Rural Woman of the Year, Alison Fairleigh,  says this is what depression feels like. She knows, because she has worn this cloak of misery.

“You have no light, because no light is able to shine in,” she says. “You can also hardly breathe, yet you have to try to continue functioning and navigate your way through the darkness.”

Ayr-based Alison is trying to improve that navigation process using a bursary she received from the Rural Industries Research and Development  Corporation as part of her Rural Women’s Award announced in March. Her chief aim is to forge better pathways for farmers and fishers to access  frontline health and mental-health services, and it’s no coincidence that the work parallels her own healing journey.

Growing up on a mixed cropping and cattle property near Kingaroy in south-east Queensland, Alison adored country life, yet difficult family circumstances left her feeling disconnected from the farm. She masked her childhood sadness by concocting her own perfect world of make-believe, enriched by the stories of a staggering 52 penfriends from all parts of the globe. “In the ’80s, we didn’t have internet chat rooms or Twitter, so writing letters was my own form of escape and enlightenment,” she smiles.

Alison was already well aware of the difficulties in trying to access appropriate medical support in country areas; a traumatic experience in her  mid-twenties triggered her own mental illness, and she spent seven harrowing years trying to convince herself that nothing was wrong. “I went from being the bubbly life of the party to an angry, highly anxious recluse who wanted as little to do with people as possible, but I was stubborn and  ignorant, and kept pushing myself to just get over it,” she explains. “I always thought that if I could just try harder to be a better person, toughen up and think happy thoughts, then everything would be OK, but it doesn’t work.”

It wasn’t until she heard two men discussing the signs and symptoms on the radio that she realised depression was a diagnosable illness.

» Full story

Published with permission of R.M. Williams Outback Magazine
» http://www.outbackmag.com.au

R.M. Williams Outback Magazine, Issue 91

“The enemy within”

The Enemy Within from Mayfly Media on Vimeo.

In a bid to raise awareness about mental health issues in the Riverina, local business woman Simone Dowding from The Blessed Bean has teamed up with Alexis and Steve from Mayfly Media to create a short film about a local sportsman and his battles with depression and suicide.

“The Enemy Within” is inspired by Wagga’s world champion boxer and ex rugby league player Joe Williams, who has, despite his achievements and success, fought his greatest battles with depression and suicide.

The film has been developed for entry in the Wagga Wagga City Council’s WaggaFest short film competition. It takes a documentary style approach to exploring Joe’s experiences and it is peppered with inspiring and hopeful messages designed to reach out to young sports fans.

Ms Dowding said she wanted to do something to try to stem the tragedy and suffering caused by depression and other mental health problems in the Riverina.

“More than six people commit suicide every day in Australia and a further 30 attempt to take their own life,” she said.

Mayfly Media has volunteered time, equipment and other resources to manage the production of the film, which was written and conceived by Ms Dowding. Joe Williams is also a volunteer as the major subject of the documentary style production.

Written and directed by Simone Dowding – jason@theblessedbean.com.au 0416 263 554
theblessedbean.com.au/make-a-difference/

Produced by Mayfly Media – info@mayflymedia.com.au 0417 484 976
mayflymedia.com.au

Joe Williams – williamsj7@ww.catholic.edu.au 0406 308 093
joewilliamsboxing.com.au

safeTALK – Suicide intervention training for community members

Date: Saturday, 22 November 2014 – 1:00pm

Learn to:

  • Recognise the signs of suicide
  • Ask clearly and directly about suicide
  • Find further support

Cost: $10 (afternoon tea to be provided)
Date: Saturday, November 22nd, 2014
Time: 1pm – 4pm
Location: Wagga Wagga Council Chambers

Places are limited.

To register please call Daniel on 0447 231 080 or email wwrspn@gmail.com

safe-talk-Nov-2014 | PDF 829kb

Public meeting – GROW support in Gundagai

grow-160x59Date: Monday, 10 November 2014 – 2:00pm

Are you struggling with your mental health?

Grow offers practical help. Is Gundagai ready for a Grow group?

Grow is a national organisation that provides a peer supported program for growth and personal development for people with a mental illness and those experiencing difficulty in coping with life’s challenges.

Grow groups offer the opportunity for people to share challenges and solutions for recovery in a supportive and structured way. Meetings are held weekly. Group members use Grow’s 12 Step Program as a means of change and personal growth.

Grow is free to join and you don’t need a referral or diagnosis.

You are very welcome to just come along and join in.

Public Meeting
When: Monday 10th November 2.00pm
Where: Mirrabooka Neighbourhood Centre, 245 Sheridan Street Gundagai

You alone can do it, but you can’t do it alone

GROW-Gundagai | PDF 42kb

 

December

Open Christmas events across the Riverina offer support

Date: Saturday, 13 December 2014 – 1:30pm to Sunday, 28 December 2014 – 6:30pm

Open Christmas events across the Riverina offer support 

Riverina Bluebell is urging the community to have an Open Christmas – maintaining open minds, hearts and doors this holiday season to help identify and reduce common triggers for mental stress. 

“It is well documented that the Christmas period can bring an increase in stress, anxiety and mental health concerns to many in our community,” said Chris Wilson, Vice Chairman of Riverina Bluebell. 

“Our aim at Riverina Bluebell is to say this is normal, and there are many avenues for help that can ease the pressure.” 

Riverina Bluebell says simple steps like maintaining an open mind about how we spend Christmas Day and being aware of local community initiatives designed to bring people together and connect can help. 

“Throughout the Riverina there are opportunities to share Christmas Lunch with others in great community spaces,” continued Mr Wilson. 

“In addition to financial and family stresses, sometimes the pressure to have a Christmas Day like the ones portrayed in advertising, or to recreate the ones of your past even in the absence of loved ones can be overwhelming.”

“Riverina Bluebell is highlighting these Open Christmases in Wagga Wagga, Temora, Tumut and Griffith as great local initiatives, designed to support and help individuals, couples and families avoid loneliness and other pressures associated with Christmas Day.” 

“In addition, we want to encourage individual households to adopt an Open Christmas approach by opening your doors to your neighbor that may be alone, or the couple you know are dealing with a loss in their family. 

“Take the opportunity to share stories and connect – you never know how much it may help someone,” said Mr Wilson.

If you would like to add your Open Christmas event, contact web@riverinabluebell.org.au

Open Christmas listings:

Wagga Wagga Christmas Luncheon

Hosted by Wagga Wagga Uniting Church 

12pm for 12:30 start 

Wesley Hall, Johnston Street

Full traditional Christmas Lunch – Roast Turkey-Pork-Ham, hot vegies and gravy plus Christmas Pudding and custard– all free. See you there! 

RSVP Phil Sheather 6921 9319 or Wesley Church Office 6921 4275. 

Temora Community Christmas Luncheon

Hosted by Temora Salvation Army

12:30pm

Temora Salvation Army Citadel, corner of Victoria and Loftus Streets, Temora

We’d love to see you!

RSVP Saturday 20 December at the Salvation Army Family Store, 176 Hoskins St.  

Griffith Christmas Lunch

Hosted by the Griffith Combined Churches Association

12.30pm

Grace Church, 9 Altin Street, Griffith

If you are alone this Christmas, we would love you to join us for Christmas Lunch. Transport can be provided.

RSVP Friday 19 December with your name, contact number and transport needs

Text 0427643261 or griffithfoursquare@tpg.com.au

Tumut Christmas Day Luncheon

11.30am – 2.30pm

Tumut Showground and Tearooms

Invitations are extended to residents without connections on Christmas Day – individuals or families, and visitors to Tumut over the Christmas Period. Transport is available on request. 

RSVP Thursday 18 December Mandy 69479653 or Jackie 0499 081 017

If you are interested in volunteering for the Luncheon or make a monetary or food donation contact Pat on 0401 472 161.