Painting a positive picture of mental health

Cameron Ellicott putting his touch to the community painting promoting mental health.

THE old saying, a problem shared is a problem halved, was ringing true in the Connection on Saturday during the Rotary Markets as local mental health workers, an artist and the community joined together to create a community painting celebrating mental health.
There was plenty of talk, sharing of stories and information handed out as children, teenagers and adults with brushes in hands and glitter at the ready transformed a blank canvas into a picture of hope and happiness.
October is Mental Health Month (MHM), which is a national mental health promotion campaign to increase awareness and to promote mental health and wellbeing for all people of NSW.
The theme for this year’s MHM is ‘Celebrate, Connect, and Grow’, with the campaign focusing on celebrating the positive things in life, as well as the strengths and values that help us through more challenging times whilst connecting with others by paying attention to our close relationships and reaching out and making new friends.
Growing by expanding our horizons and trying something new that creates meaning and purpose is the third part of the theme.
At a local level, health workers from different agencies joined forces with artist Robyn Elphick to put a unique twist on the awareness campaign.
Tumut Community Health staff, Lambing Flat Enterprises worker Toni Wiggins and Tim Owers from Richmond PRA hosted a community information stall during last Saturday’s market as a way of engaging the public in the issue of mental health and in a bid to remove the negative stigma that surrounds the issue.
As the Community Mental Health Rehabilitation worker for Richmond PRA, Mr Owers said having the canvas to paint, and informative show bags to hand out, helped to make the event a success.
“In the show-bags we had a Beyond Blue wellbeing for the family book, pamphlets about men’s shed and mental wellness, access line cards, stress balls, pens and wristbands,” Mr Owers said. “It was a great idea to have a community painting as a lot of people stopped and contributed their little bit and took a show-bag or balloon. We are finding that people are more willing to talk about mental health, which decreases the stigma and that people are more willing to share their experiences as well.”
Mr Owers is tasked with the delivery of programs for mental health at a local level and supports those affected by mental illness.
He said nearly every individual has an issue that will comes up in their life and could probably need some help with.
“This is the second year of the Unwind Your Mind program,” Mr Owers said. “The aim for the group to decrease the stigma and increase knowledge base. We let the community know there is people to help them.”
It is undecided where the community painting that features rainbows, butterflies, the Tumut River complete with a magnificent bridge and many colourful individual pictures will hang but it will be displayed in the front window of the Times office this month.
Mental Health Access line 1800636825
Lifeline 131114
Kids Helpline 1800551800