Canberra icon lit up for the loneliness epidemic and World Mental Health Day
The Mental Health Community Coalition ACT is lighting Black Mountain Tower (aka Telstra Tower) green on 10 October for World Mental Health Day, and to advocate for action on loneliness.
“Whether you’re northside or southside, Black Mountain Tower is an anchor point for all Canberrans,” says Mental Health Community Coalition ACT CEO, Melanie Poole.
“Also, from its vantage point of almost 200 metres above Black Mountain summit, you can see the entire city.
“It’s a unique icon in its subtle reminder that we’re not alone, we share a landscape, we’re part of the same city.
“Yet, we have an epidemic of people who feel disconnected, both in the ACT and Australia-wide.”
Over a quarter of Canberrans report feeling lonely “often”, according to the Living Well in the ACT Region Survey. Already an escalating issue prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, over half of Australians report feeling lonelier since 2020, according to Ending Loneliness Together.
“There are things individuals can do to feel less lonely, which we encourage over Mental Health Month,” says Ms Poole. “Things like volunteering, or reaching out to friends, neighbours, and loved ones. But we’re seeing loneliness on such a large scale that these solutions aren’t enough on their own.
“We need to address some of the more complex underlying causes of loneliness. We see, for example, that over time, Australians have been less likely to participate in team sports like netball and soccer, while participation in solitary physical activities – like going to the gym – is on the rise. Is there enough investment in public spaces – like parks, sporting fields, and nature reserves – where people can pursue fitness, and hang out with each other?
“Why are we seeing declines in rates of volunteering, and in participation in community groups like Rotary or the scouts? It’s a complicated question, but long work hours make us increasingly time poor. And, given Canberra’s urban sprawl, not many of us can access these groups within convenient walking distance. It becomes too hard.
“Why do we have fewer close friends over time? In the 1980s, Australians could name, on average, 10 people they would consider close friends. Today, we name half as many. We want Canberrans to reflect on the question: what are the things that divide us from each other? And what could bring us together?”
On the night of October 10, MHCC ACT invites Canberrans to take a picture of Black Mountain Tower lit up, using the hashtag #LightUpForMentalHealth.
“We hope to flood social media feeds with images of people reflecting on the same icon in the night, showing each other that we are part of a collective. We ask people to describe changes they can imagine that would make for a less lonely world.”
Media contact: Erin Stewart, Media and Communications Manager, 0493 388 756 | email@example.com
MHCC ACT is the peak body for community-managed mental health services in the ACT. Find out more about MHCC ACT at www.mhccact.org.au.