Shoalhaven Heads community gathers for Mental Health Month

It can be a tough topic but a group of Shoalhaven Heads residents came together recently to reflect on their mental health and wellbeing. 

Shoalhaven Health and Arts, in conjunction with the Shoalhaven Heads Community Centre Management Committee hosted the first ‘Share it @ Shoalhaven Heads to shine a light on strategies to help people get through rough times. 

The event also celebrated NSW Mental Health Month, held annually in October. This year’s theme is ‘Share the Journey’. 

Around 60 people came together to share their own stories of resilience and their strategies for dealing with anxiety or stress. 

Tales of gardening, exercising, music, and being the support person for someone causing their own stress resonated with many in the room. 

Shoalhaven Heads resident and event committee member Larraine Franklin said the audience responded well to quizzes about mental health issues and the stigma surrounding them. 

“There was one question that asked ‘do you tell people to just get over it?’ and one lady responded ‘no, you invite them in for a cup of tea of course’,” Larraine said. 

“That lady is 93-years-old and I just thought that was a lovely response.” 

While Shoalhaven Heads is a small, close knit community, Larraine said that can sometimes work in two ways. 

“I find that with mental health in a small community it’s often two extremes, where people are either very supportive and everyone is there to help, or you’ll have people who don’t want to leave their home or talk about it because they’re embarrassed and they feel shame,” she said. 

“Sometimes, it can be difficult to acknowledge that we are struggling to cope but if we can reach out to each other understanding that mental health issues are common, then we can build a resilient and supportive community.” 

With plenty of fun, live music and good food also shared, it’s hoped the event will become a regular on Shoalhaven Head’s annual calendar. 

If this story has raised issues for you and you would like to talk to someone, please contact Lifeline 13 11 14 or beyondblue 1300 224 636.