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    IMPORTANT MESSAGE: Speaking at a Hardest Kick mental health seminar at Warracknabeal last week were presenters from left, Pat Timmons, David Turnbull, John Sudholz, Mal Coutts and Lissy Johns.

United message to ‘talk’

More than 150 people who packed Warracknabeal Community Centre last week heard a simple but important mental health message – ‘talk to someone’.

The three words were a core message of a Hardest Kick mental health forum presented by health professionals from across the Wimmera.

Wimmera Primary Care Partnership mental health officer Lissy Johns kicked off the night with a talk about her own family tragedy.

Rural Outreach worker Mal Coutts followed by sharing a personal story about being affected by suicide.

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Both talked about signs they overlooked because of a lack of knowledge.

They also spoke of the importance of talking about suicide and bringing it into the open.

Royal Flying Doctor Service counsellor David Turnbull and Rural Northwest Health social worker Sandra Telfer informed attendees about various free and confidential mental health services, while rural financial counsellor Pat Timmons spoke of free financial advice available to farmers.

Yarriambiack Medical Clinic’s Dr Franklin Butuyuyu talked about the support GPs could provide to anyone experiencing mental health issues.

Guest speaker John Sudholz provided one of the highlights of the night.

Mr Sudholz, a former football champion and Beyond Blue ambassador, spoke about his struggle with anxiety after returning to farming at Rupanyup after a career as an elite footballer.

He said he struggled and felt unable to talk to anyone about it, contemplating suicide.

He said people needed to talk to someone if they found themselves struggling.

“Talk to someone close first and if you can’t do that, contact a professional,” he said.

“Always remember, it is okay not to be okay.”

Presenters said people should be aware of changes in the behaviour of friends and family members, and never be afraid to ask if they were okay.

Event organiser and Rural Northwest Health health promotions officer Kelsey Hamilton said the evening was a wonderful partnership of support.

“Wimmera PCP provided important funding and Warracknabeal Neighbourhood House did a great job promoting the event,” she said.

“People of all ages attended and we were amazed at the response.”

Warrack Eagles president Chris Taylor agreed the event was a huge success.

“We appreciate Rural Northwest Health including us in such an important event and I know our club members gained a lot from it,” he said. 

“We had great representation from junior and senior players as well as our volunteers and the presenters gave us all plenty to think about.

“Many of our club members have felt the pain from suicide and it’s good to know support is available to all of us.

“As a club we want to work more closely with our community and its services because we all need to stick together for our town’s future.”

• People can visit or for information and support about anxiety, depression and suicide. People in need of crisis support and suicide prevention services can call Lifeline’s 24-hour hotline on 13 11 14. If a life is in danger, people should call police on triple zero. 

The entire July 10, 2019 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!