Sharing the Journey

While Mental Health Month is held in October every year, mental health is an ongoing issue, as is raising public awareness around these concerns. It's important to break down taboos and better enable people to access support as early as possible.

The reality is that one in five Australians will experience a mental health issue at some point in their lives. Such an issue can negatively impact on all aspects of well-being, including: physical health, relationships, employment, and realising one’s true potential.

There is a strong chance that you, or someone you know, may have already been affected by mental health, highlighting the need for a whole of community approach to the issue.

This year the theme of Mental Health Month was Sharing the Journey, so we took our annual event to the Upper Hunter. This is an area which, due to drought and a downturn in the mining sector, has faced significant challenges in recent years.

We hosted a morning tea and panel discussion at St James Primary School in Muswellbrook. In the spirit of Sharing the Journey, Noeleen Osborne courageously shared the story of her mental health experience, including the care she received and her recovery.

Her story provided a powerful insight into the burden of mental health, while her determination and resilience both inspired and moved the audience. Marcus McDonnell, a pastor who also managed an in-patient drug and alcohol facility on the Central Coast, shared his knowledge on the rehabilitation journey and the impact it can have on family and carers.

Kelly Pavan, psychologist and manager of CatholicCare’s counselling service, spoke about her experience supporting people with mental health issues and the services CatholicCare offers to anyone in need, at any stage of their journey.

Our first visit to the Upper Hunter for Mental Health Month drew only a small crowd but one which was enthusiastic in its participation. The event has already led to new partnerships being formed to link our vulnerable Upper Hunter community residents with mental health services they would not have otherwise had access to.

A big thank you to: St James Primary School in Muswellbrook, all guest speakers, Teresa Brierley, Alyson Segrott and the Diocesan Social Justice Council for their organisation of the event and dedication to the community.

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