HONESTY: Performance coach and mental health advocate, Alistair Mitchell, tells his story to the audience during a mental health forum held in Warracknabeal last Thursday night at the Community Centre.
IN an emotionally charged evening last Thursday people from across the community came together to gain an understanding of issues surrounding the serious issue of mental health.
During the evening, hosted by Warracknabeal Rotary Club with support from Rural Northwest Health, Yarriambiack Shire and the Warrack Eagles the issues surrounding mental health and access to services in rural communities were discussed.
Queensland based performance coach, Alistair Mitchell led the forum and spoke candidly about his personal story and his path towards healing.
He also discussed the need to seek support and help in difficult times and that with
help anyone can turn their life around.
Urging the audience to join in, rather than simply providing a standard presentation, he delivered in message of each person having the ability to change someone’s life.
He gave a real insight into issues that are faced, and how in most cases simply by taking the time to ask, one person can help set someone on the right path to seek help and work through problems.
“Alistair Mitchell was candid about his personal battles which was really powerful,” Rotary president and MC for the evening, Chris Hewitt said.
“He reminded us all how much we can do by simply checking on our mates to offer support and help,” he said.
Rural Northwest Health, through their CEO, Kevin Mills and Community Health Manager, Ngareta Melgren provided an outline to the audience of services currently available in the region and what they would like to see available in the future.
During the evening, it became noticeably apparent there is a definite need of additionalsupport for people who are struggling with life issues.
Services that are taken for granted in metropolitan areas and larger centres, simply do not exist in smaller or remote communities.
“We hope this is just the first step in getting the help that is needed in rural areas, ours included,” Chris Hewitt said.
Following the presentations, a question and answer session was held in which the major topic spoken about was access to appropriate assistance in rural areas.
Discussions during the evening were wide-ranging, and subjects not generally discussed in association with mental health issues such as the importance of diet, exercise and general lifestyle options.
Mayor Massey spoke to the audience that mental health was an important local consideration for council, as they deal with one and all.He said local government has its place in mental health to agitate for better services to be put into place.
“We can help by working towards both Federal and State funding to ensure appropriate services and funding are provided to rural and remote communities,” he said.
“Currently the council is working with the West Wimmera Shire Council along
with Hindmarsh to secure funding for positions in the shires of trained staff to provide
assistance to the community in this area,” Mayor Massey said.
“We all have a part to play in working to rid the stigma surrounding mental health, and no one should walk away from a person in need.”
“Stopping to help someone could make all the difference to the person in need,” he said.
“Life in a rural environment can be hard, particularly in a period of unusually dry weather and it is imperative that we all do what we can to help,” Mr Massey said.
All presenters spoke openly and honestly to which the audience responded with equal candour in an evening that both the hosts and presenters has helped someone seek help.
“If we helped just one person during the course of the evening, it is all we can hope for,” Chris Hewitt said.
“We wanted to break down the stigma and taboo surrounding mental health so thatpeople are no longer ashamed of admitting to a problem or getting help.”
“People matter, and we want those in need to understand that care and support can be found, regardless of who they are,” Mr Hewitt said.