October is Mental Health Awareness Month and a reminder to all of us to take steps to look after our mental health.
Mental ill health, just like physical ill health, can effect anyone at any time. It does not discriminate. Daily life stressors or big life events such as becoming a parent, moving countries, ending a relationship, losing a loved one or experiencing a natural disaster - such as our current prolonged drought - any of these circumstances could overwhelm any one of us.
That's why, just like our physical health, our mental health is something that we should continue to focus on and look after even when we are feeling well. Just as we go to the gym to work out and build strength in our muscles, so too should we take steps to work out and build resilience for our mental health. When we take the time to focus on our health and well-being, it means that when the tough times inevitably come, we are better prepared and have coping strategies and support networks in place to help us through.
Even though conversations about mental health and well-being are now more mainstream, there are still those who continue to suffer in silence. We need to continue to normalise conversations about ill mental health so that people don’t feel alone. But importantly, we need back up these conversations with appropriate support services so that when people do need help, they can access services when and where they need it.
I am proud of the work that we do to bring more mental health services to our region. Particularly in areas such as Lithgow, where the community was in need of more mental health support. This past year we have funded several services including headspace and NewAccess in addition to several initiatives through our Well-Being Grants for Farming Communities. Through these Grants we are helping drought affected communities like Lithgow, tap into their existing strong community networks and build their capacity and resilience so that people have the skills to support each other. Not just for this drought, but for the inevitable future natural disasters or life events that we cannot control.