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ACT Mental Health Sector Update: 27 October 2023

We’re getting to the end of a massive Mental Health Month. Throughout this month, we have seen an incredible array of events, programs, and initiatives designed to foster mental wellbeing, community building, and wellbeing. (Psst: keep reading for a link to grab one of the last tickets to our almost sold-out Awards evening next week!) 

Mental Health Month Launch Speakers

We kicked off Mental Health Month with an official launch, at which I joined ACT Minister for Mental Health, Emma Davidson, and several powerful lived experience speakers in reflecting on how we build collective wellbeing. I also joined Adam Shirley on ABC Canberra later in the month for a wonderful discussion about the loneliness epidemic – you can listen to the interview here

Throughout the month, our members, fellow peaks and grant recipients have organised vibrant, inspiring grassroots events to speak to their communities about mental health. We’ve seen festivals; chats over teddy bear-construction; a drumming circle; an anti-racism roundtable; a beautiful mums, mums-to-be, and bubs gathering; and other mental health promotion events held by schools, cultural groups, and other pillars of community. And there’s more to look forward to as we get to October’s final days, including the Belconnen Art Centre’s “Moments of Connection” exhibition next week! 

A teddy produced at “A Beary Lovely Morning” and a mind map from the Collective on Anti-Racism (COAR) roundtable.

These events have not only kept our community engaged but also demonstrated the incredible power of collective action in the pursuit of mental health promotion and community building. 

One of our own efforts during the Month included lighting up Black Mountain Tower in green, the international colour of mental health awareness on 10 October, World Mental Health Day. As we discuss in our op-ed published this week in The Canberra Times, for this night, we thought of Black Mountain Tower as a beacon – people throughout Canberra looked to this same icon in the landscape. 

This is a reminder that we are not alone – something that can be difficult for many of us to keep in mind given the prevailing loneliness epidemic. According to a large study by the non-profit organisation, Ending Loneliness Together, the ACT is the loneliest state or territory in Australia – 40% of us feel lonely. I argue that the antidote to loneliness in addressing issues like work/life balance that keep us unable to connect with others outside of work commitments; urban planning and design that incorporates communal spaces; and other holistic efforts to build communities from the ground up. 

Coming soon is another highlight of Mental Health Month, our almost sold-out Awards Night! We’ve already been celebrating awards nominees Ainslee Village Chat to Pat and Jacinta Dubojski with RiotACT in the lead up to the event. The night will further honour our local Community Wellbeing Heroes. These heroes are the backbone of our community, tirelessly working to uplift the well-being of individuals in need. 

Joining us for this celebration will be distinguished guests, including Minister Davidson, the Hon. Dr. Andrew Leigh, Federal Charities Minister, Sophie Lewis, ACT Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment, Office for Wellbeing Coordinator General Elizabeth Moore, and, at least count, around a dozen members of the ACT Legislative Assembly representing all political parties, along with high profile local business leaders.  

We’ll also enjoy live music from the talented Ben Drysdale – a well-known local musician and also the Director of Rebus Theatre, a theatre company run by and for people with lived experience of mental ill-health – and have opportunities to connect with one another. More information about this event can be found in the “What’s On” section below. 

Tickets are close to selling out, so be sure to RSVP as soon as possible to secure your place

Mental Health Month has been a whirlwind of activity, but it has also served as a galvanising reminder of the remarkable work taking place in Canberra for mental health promotion and community building. 

Thank you for your continued support, and I look forward to celebrating with you at the Mental Health Month Awards on Wednesday 1 November. 

– Melanie Poole, CEO MHCC ACT

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