STAMPING out the stigma that comes with mental health issues was the goal of a special event held in Nowra on Wednesday, October 21.
October is mental health month, with Wellways Nowra hosting a "Stampede Stigma" event which brought together a number of local services in Jelly Bean Park in Nowra's CBD aimed to bring mental health awareness into focus.
Almost one in two Australians will experience a mental health issue in their lifetime. And three out of four people say they have faced stigma and discrimination as a result of their mental health.
Wellways was joined by the National Indigenous Australians Agency, Services Our Way, ANALA, Waminda, Cullunghutti Aboriginal Child and Family Centre, Abriginal Home Care, the Wesley Mission, Centrelink and the First People's Disability Network at the event.
South Coast Police also threw their support behind the event, as did the South Coast Harley Owners Group (Hogs).
"We attracted a large number of services and the response was fantastic," said event organiser and Wellways key recovery worker Kathy Musico.
"The general public also got involved with the event as did a number of our group's participants.
"It was great seeing all these people coming together to break down the stigma of having a mental health issue.
"There were lots of members of the public coming up, asking questions. It was pretty busy.
"It was all aimed at bringing mental health awareness into focus."
Throughout the day there was lots of free information and giveaways, including squeezable stress relief zebras, stickers and importantly information on mental health.
The event was staged over four hours, with Wellways program coordinator Kath Vangelovski saying it was great to be able to shine a light on mental health issues.
"It's great to be able to discuss mental health issues, which are often not spoken about," she said.
"We know it is a serious matter, but it was great to be able to discuss these issues in a friendly and at times fun way.
"We know it is a daunting and often confronting time.
"But we wanted people to know there are numerous services out there, who are there to help them."
A zebra has been used as the Stampede's logo.
"Zebras all have different stripes, no two zebras are the same - just like people," Ms Musico said.
A number of the groups who have partnered with Wellways in the initiative have been provided with a large inflatable zebra, which they will be photographed with and a special presentation made by the end of the month.
Part of Wednesday's activities also set out to give the zebra mascot a name.
Members of the public were encouraged to come up with a name, with the winner being Cheryl Bowers, from Bomaderry, who suggested the name Spirit.
Inflatable Zebras have been doing the rounds across the Shoalhaven and further afield, being photographed in various locations and with different groups.
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