2015 is the year for prioritising good mental health. Since we hit the road again in early January, we’ve been asking people to think about what keeps them well and encouraging them to make a mental health pledge – a personal commitment to help them achieve their best mental health.
On our recent visit through the Murrumbidgee district, we saw many examples of people taking one step for better mental health. While they might not have been consciously aware of the benefits of what they were doing, their actions exemplified the everyday opportunities that can help us feel more connected and fulfilled.
In Wagga, hundreds of people relaxed by Wollundry Lagoon on a balmy summer’s evening. The soothing sounds of the Riverina Chamber Orchestra Collective entertained groups of friends and families, while younger children chased each other around the lawn. Put on by the Wagga City Council, it didn’t cost locals a thing.
The following day, the ladies from the Lockhart branch of the Red Cross brought platters of beautifully-baked goods for an afternoon tea at the council chambers. The art of baking and belonging to a wonderful group such as the Red Cross, no doubt has a positive impact on everyone involved, on both an individual and community level.
In Narrandera, we visited Lake Talbot Swimming Pool where the smiles were as infectious as the enthusiasm for endless trips down the waterslide. For the more mature water babies, gentle laps helped clear minds and strengthen bodies.
In Griffith, a Zumba class in the park had Year 7 and 8 students overcoming fears and embracing a new activity. Meanwhile, members of the Griffith Rotary Club chatted for hours around the barbecue as they turned sausages and browned onions. Enjoying good company is also a great protective factor for mental health.
In Ungarie, students painted words such as ‘friends’, ‘family’, ‘music’ and ‘love’ on a wellbeing canvas – already aware of the things that support their good health. And in Temora, teenagers danced, dived and laughed at a free pool party, as dedicated health professionals and community workers supervised late into the evening, driven by a passion for their work, their town and the future of their young people.
In Young, people opened up about their struggles and took the first step in seeking help. The bravest thing they could possibly do.
It is in everyday actions and pursuits that the steps to good mental health are found – the ones that connect you with those around you; the ones where you give back, but the feeling you get in return is far greater; the ones that inspire you and make you, you; the ones where you stop and ‘smell the roses’, feeling grateful for even the littlest of things.
We all deserve our best mental health. What does yours look like? Make a mental health pledge at www.beyondblue.org.au/pledge