High school students from across the Orange region have derived great benefit from TAFE Western’s annual Mental Health Month community barbecue, with hundreds of youngsters joining in a number of fun activities while raising awareness and breaking down stigma associated with mental health.
TAFE Western Counsellor and Psychologist Rachael Buckerfield said more than 400 people attended the event, with students from Orange Anglican Grammar School, Orange High School, Molong Central School, Kinross Wolaroi School and Blayney High School among those to take part.
“The atmosphere of the day was really positive and it was great to see so many of our young people interacting with the important community services that were present and asking questions about how to take care of themselves and their friends,” Ms Buckerfield said.
“Mental illness will affect half of us in our life time. If it’s not happening directly to us it will be someone we know or love, so it’s important that our community understands how and when to seek help.”
This message was not lost on students from Orange Anglican Grammar School, who agreed the event was not only enjoyable but extremely beneficial.
“The activity and stalls were fun and interesting and made me want to know more about mental health,” Phillipa Mannix said.
“I thought it was good because we also learnt about keeping ourselves healthy and safe through what we eat and drink, as well as learning some new information about mental illness,” Kynan Lane added.
While Kate Elliott said, “I thought that the TAFE Mental Health Month activity was great, promoting good health and wellbeing in a fun way. The gifts we got like drink bottles and wrist bands allow people to promote mental health in their daily life and have a reminder there.”
Ms Buckerfield said as well as the giveaways, fun activities on the day included lantern making, cupcake decorating, music and a free barbecue.
Ms Buckerfield paid tribute to community organisations including headspace, Mission Australia, Blue Knot Foundation, Orange Community Garden Group, Alive Health, Family and Community Services, Orange Aboriginal Medical Centre, Act Belong Commit, Interrelate, Lyndon Community, Community Health Dieticians, Community Mental Health, Centrecare, Ability Links, O’Brien Centre, Day2Day Living Program and Richmond PRA for supporting the activity.
“The theme this year was Learn and Grow – encouraging communities to learn more about mental health and wellbeing,” she said.
“Bunnings kindly donated a plum tree to fit this theme and people attending wrote pledges about what they would do for their wellbeing and they were stuck on the tree. This tree will be planted at TAFE as a reminder that mental health is important.”
For more information about mental health, please visit https://mhaustralia.org/