Unspoken Conversations are the topics that are often swept under the carpet, whispered amongst the closest of friends and bitched about by many. I want to create awareness about difficult things that people face in life; grief, mental health, money, illnesses, family troubles, relationship difficulties and putting yourself first. I want to tell the truth about things that really matter.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Mental Health Awareness; We're Organising a Gala Dinner!

The amazing team of passionate people behind the Eyre Peninsula Mental Wellbeing Program. From back: group members Angela Cordon, Ashley Lawrie, Rotarians Mike Munro and Adrian Glover, Leonie Green, Jo Clark from West Coast Youth and Communty Support, Kirsty Traeger and Penny Will. Thanks to the Port Lincoln Times for this photo via http://www.portlincolntimes.com.au/story/2452735/flipping-mental-illness-on-its-head/?cs=1500
I have something really exciting to share with you!
As many of you would know from reading my blog, four years ago I suffered from generalized anxiety and severe depression. My experience created a passion inside of me to do everything in my power to talk honestly and openly about my illness to show people that depression and anxiety can happen to anyone, at anytime, and that it's okay to accept that we're not always coping, to try and prevent so many people from losing their lives to the illness.
My awareness campaign started right here, in this very forum; my blog.
I have never felt so alive and so fulfilled as what I do when I write, and I share my story.
It was after I had worked with ABC Open to share local sufferers stories during mental health week that I mentioned to Emma Pedler, a local radio host and legend, that my next big dream for mental health awareness was to create a gala dinner that was full of fun, colour and festivities to put mental health in the spotlight and to start the discussions on the importance of keeping mentally fit.
ABC Open
Emma, being the amazing person she is, gave me her list of contacts and support and sent me on my merry way with a smile on my dial believing that I really could make this dream a reality.
It just so happened that another local girl, Penny Will, had also contacted Angela Cordon, the local Country Health Mental Health Experts by Experience Officer, wanting to increase the promotion, prevention and early intervention of mental health at the same time that Rotary had elected a new president with a vision to put resources into local mental health awareness and bam; the recipe was starting to be written for the big shebang of a gala dinner.
The next big thing to decide was where was the money going to go that was raised at this fantastic event?
So over a cup of coffee we linked into West Coast Youth Services and the inspirational Jo Clark came on the scene. Jos team of counselors offer individualised support to kids, young adults and their families who are going through tricky times in their life. What blew me away is that they have a policy that they offer support to everyone who knocks on their door, even if it's providing comfort that there's help out there and pointing them in the right direction.
We discussed our vision with Jo to run a Mental Wellbeing Program in 3 local communities; Tumby Bay, Port Lincoln and Cummins, both in schools and the wider community, that would point people in the direction of the local services available to reach out to for support, what it means to be mentally fit, what signs to look out for in yourself and others for the early onset of depression and anxiety, how to help yourself and others, and just speaking openly about mental health so that people can open their minds and understanding to the seriousness of these issues.
We were determined to send out the message that looking after your mental wellbeing is something that we all need to take responsibility for – it affects everyone, but hopefully, with the tools, understanding and services at our disposal, we can help to save the lives of the people we love and care for while improving our own quality of life.
Fast forward 10 months, and add on two extra super supportive and active committee members (Ashley Lawrie the creative mastermind and finance guru and Leonie Green from CarersSA) and what we have created is a "Life's a Circus Gala dinner" that captures the seriousness of the illness in a lighthearted, fun filled night full of delicious food, comedic humor, dancing, auctioning and dressing up!
I'm so superly excited about the event. Tickets only went on sale just over a week ago and already they have almost all sold out! that's close to 250 people keen to come along and support our cause!
Bendigo Bank have also kindly jumped onboard to donate a very generous amount of money which means that a 3 week mental wellbeing program will run in Tumby Bay, Port Lincoln and Cummins, run by the qualified counselors at West Coast Youth Services.
The money that we raise from the raffle tickets and gala dinner will then go towards extending this program with even more information sessions, counseling and the ability to interconnect local services to deliver sessions so that we can create a mentally fit and aware community throughout Lower Eyre Peninsula.
I'm so incredibly grateful for the support and generosity of my local community to help me bring my vision to life.
Life really is a circus and if we can all learn how to keep mentally fit then we can help ourselves and others to juggle the expectations of life so that we can all live happily and healthily.
If you want to know more about this project, please like the "Eyre Peninsula Mental Wellbeing" page on Facebook.
Just remember that if you're passionate about something, then you can make anything happen.
Look after yourselves and those around you.
Kirsty xxx
Selling raffles tickets outside of my local bakery!

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