Mental health awareness has taken centre stage at TAFE NSW Orange throughout October, with a number of fun activities aimed at breaking down stigmas associated with the condition.
TAFE NSW Counsellor and Psychologist Rachael Buckerfield said a community expo next Wednesday (October 18) headlined a number of important activities being held in the region.
“Mental illness will affect half of us in our lifetime. If it’s not happening to us directly, it will be someone we know or love, so it’s important we understand the importance of looking after our mental health,” Ms Buckerfield said.
“We’re really excited about the Orange Mental Health Expo at TAFE NSW Orange next week. We have hundreds of students coming from Molong High School, Orange High School and Kinross Walaroi School, who will not only enjoy a free barbecue lunch, music, games and activities, but will get a better understanding of mental health issues and how they affect young people.”
Ms Buckerfield said community support for the expo had been overwhelming, with headspace, Western Area Local Health District, Mission Australia, and Ability Links all committing to having displays on the day.
The expo will run from 11.30am to 1.30pm, and the community is invited and encouraged to attend.
“Another way we are raising awareness throughout Mental Health Month is with our annual cut-out elephant displays people might have seen across Orange in places such as Orange Health Service, PCYC and all our local high schools,” Ms Buckerfield said.
“The purpose of these elephants is for the community to decorate them and organisations to display them, and encourage people to talk about the elephant in the room – mental health.”
One organisation that has thrown its support behind both the elephant concept and expo is Mission Australia.
“Mission Australia feels it is important to acknowledge Mental Health Month as it raises awareness within the community, whilst promoting inclusion and destigmatising mental illness,” spokesperson Georgina Schmich said. “We are happy to support TAFE’s elephant in the room initiative as we aspire to highlight a huge social and health issue that is often overlooked in our society.”
Ms Buckerfield said TAFE NSW Orange would also host three mental health presentations for its trade students on October 23 and 24, with guest speaker Jeremy Forbes from HALT (Hope Assistant Local Tradies) talking about the importance of looking after wellbeing.
For more information, email Rachael.Buckerfield1@tafensw.edu.au