For many people in the ACT and surrounds, 2020 will be remembered as a time of struggle as the hazardous air from a stressful bushfire season had barely lifted before a once-in-a-century pandemic came along and induced economic uncertainty and life-altering restrictions.
For Mental Health Awareness Month this October, Canberrans are being encouraged to tell their tales of survival and have meaningful conversations about their experiences with mental health symptoms over a cup of tea with their friends.
Furthermore, the ACT’s Mental Health Coordinating Council (MHCC) is hosting a festival of more than 30 community events throughout the month. The festival is connected to World Mental Health Day (10 October), which is celebrated in more than 100 countries, promoting mental health as a normal part of life and raising awareness of what mental health really looks like.
MHCC spokesperson Alison Hall said the goal this October was to reduce stigma and normalise mental health by getting people talking, sharing and hearing stories.
“Each year, one in five Australians experience a mental health issue,” Alison said.
“We want people to know that mental health is a normal part of life.
“We want to put people’s stories on your news feed.”
Themed by conversation and connection, the vibrant festival is a celebration of artistic expressions of pain and healing, practical information about ongoing resources, and workshops in mindfulness and wellbeing.
For people who’ve experienced stigma – the mark of associated disgrace from mental health symptoms or shame, the humiliation or distress of inappropriate behaviour – this is a program designed to flip the script and celebrate their continued pathway to good health.
Some events, including a stigma-busting video series on World Mental Health Day, will be conducted online.
Festival highlights include:
- Mums exercise group
- The Man Walk with Vikings and Mengineering
- Slow sewing techniques – to remain grounded
- Nature walks
- Positive post-its in the park
- Coming Home – the launch of the online publication about the unique mental health concerns experienced by LGB, trans, queer and intersex people who identify as Bla(c)k and/or as a Person of Colour.
- Mental Health Film Festival
- Two-day training for students interested in becoming an ambassador for adolescent mental health
On Thursday 29 October, the festival closes with a number of awards, recognising the advances in mental health research, excellence in service delivery, the crucial role of families and carers, and individuals with lived experiences of mental health.
If you or a loved one is interested in participating, details can be found at mentalhealthmonthact.org/calendar
To register a Wellbeing PrioriTea event, visit mentalhealthmonthact.org/prioritea