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Putting the chalk on mental health

THE pavement on the corner of Bayfield Street and Rosny Bus Mall was covered with messages of hope this World Mental Day, with Eastern Shore Psychology giving the community an opportunity to engage in the conversation about positive mental health and wellbeing.

‘Let’s Chalk About Mental Health’ saw community members grab a piece of chalk and write about what mental health means to them on the footpath for other people to see.

Eastern Shore Psychology psychologist Lucy Brown said the key message of the day was that it was okay to talk about mental health and to try and encourage conversation.

“Events like these get people to open their eyes and see that it’s okay to talk about mental health,” she said.

“One in five people in any one year will have a mental illness and nearly half of all Australians in one point in their life will have a mental illness, so this is a problem that doesn’t discriminate – everyone is susceptible.

“We want people to feel comfortable seeking help and talking about it when they need to.”

Ms Brown said although attitudes towards mental health and illness were changing, there was still a lot of stigma and barriers in place.

“In Tasmania, more than 70 people a year die by suicide, that’s 70 individuals, 70 families, 70 communities who are affected by this every year – that’s not good enough,” she said.

“We want to cut down those barriers stopping people from talking about it and make it easier for people to reach out when they need to.

“There’s a lot of self-help resources online, which is a really good option for people who are isolated, which is sometimes an issue in Tasmania, so reach out, seek help, go and see your doctor and they can point you in the right direction for some help.”

Vietnam veteran Kenneth King was one passer-by who shared his message of hope and said his service dog Chief had been a saviour to his mental health.

“He just keeps me grounded and he’s been a massive help to me,” he said.

“I’ve been in a dark hole and it’s not nice.

“If more people are aware of it and more people talk about it then more help can be given – don’t step away from people, step to them.”

Caption: From left, Vietnam veteran Kenneth King, service dog Chief, psychologist Lucy Brown, clinical hypnotherapist Angela Vincent and provisional psychologist Samantha Blight among their chalk messages of hope.