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    SHOW OF SUPPORT: Horsham Riverside Caravan Park managers Glenn Coffey and Sue Jones, left, show their support for Black Dog Institute’s ‘Mullets for Mental Health’ campaign. Peter Bywaters and Shaye Scott-Bywaters are promoting the campaign. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER

Mullets open mental health dialogue


Horsham’s Shaye Scott-Bywaters wants people to know it is okay to not feel okay. 

The 22-year-old is working through Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD, a condition that can leave people feeling stuck with a constant sense of danger and painful memories.

She has joined a group of Horsham residents who have agreed to sport a mullet hairstyle this month to help raise awareness of mental health.

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When Ms Scott-Bywaters stumbled across Black Dog Institute’s ‘Mullets for Mental Health’ campaign, she wanted to find a way to get on board. 

She encouraged her foster carer Peter Bywaters and her hosts, Horsham Riverside Caravan Park co-owners Glenn Coffey and partner Sue Jones, to join the cause. 

Ms Scott-Bywaters said she had lost mates to suicide when she lived in South Australia, and since she moved to Horsham. 

She said people needed to recognise it was okay to seek help in times of distress. 

“Everyone at some point in their life, whether short term or long term, will go through some form of mental illness or trauma,” she said. 

“We should be supportive of everyone. People in the community need to be aware there are people who they may see in the grocery store or down the street that could potentially have a mental illness. You don’t know because you can’t see it.”

Ballarat Health Services is the closest support centre that can offer Ms Scott-Bywaters the psychiatric care she needs.

Her only option is to take public transport – more than six hours of travelling. 

“It’s not easy to get to a specialist in Ballarat, to be referred out of the region, it’s hard to get transport there,” she said. 

“There’s no in-between help for people who are at moderate risk with their mental health out here.”

Ms Scott-Bywaters said she believed Horsham needed more immediate support available for people who required a higher level of psychological or psychiatric care.  

She said she believed there needed to be a broader societal awareness and acceptance of mental health across the Wimmera. 

“I’ve been through a lot of stuff mentally and seen psychiatrists and psychologists who don’t always help,” she said. 

“There’s a lot of layers to it – not one person goes through the same mental health journey. 

“I believe you’re better off being in the community with the proper support that you need, and we don’t have that out in the country.”

Black Dog Institute encourages all Australians to shape and grow a mullet during September to raise much-needed money for mental health research.

Australian Institute of Health and Wellbeing research shows suicide is the leading cause of death among Australians aged 15 to 24, at 37 percent. 

For people aged 25 to 44, it was also suicide, at 22 percent. The figure for people in rural populations is double.  

Mr Bywaters, along with Mr Coffey and Ms Jones, was keen to join the cause.  

Mr Bywaters has been staying at the caravan park during the COVID-19 pandemic to gain access to disability facilities and complete hydrotherapy treatment for his back-related injuries. 

He said the gesture of kindness from the caravan park operators to allow him to use their amenities made a huge difference to his mental health.

“Glenn and Sue have been really supportive of not only my mental health, but Shaye’s as well,” he said. 

“I think it’s so important for people to realise that people have problems in their life.”

Mr Bywaters said ‘Mullet Month’ was a fun way to draw attention to an otherwise serious issue. 

“It affects a lot more people than are willing to talk about – it’s something that needs to be brought out in the community,” he said.

“Mullet Month gives people a chance to do that.”

Mr Bywaters said even the smallest gesture could make a massive difference to someone who was struggling with their mental health.

“It’s really hard in the country because everyone knows each other and it can be hard to feel comfortable enough to open up to people,” he said. 

“But people don’t have to communicate too much, sometimes all it takes is a smile. That acknowledgement is enough.

“You don’t have to do a hell of a lot to make difference to someone’s day.”

The entire September 9, 2020 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!