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Launch of Mental Health Month ACT 2022

This speech was delivered by Corinne Dobson, Acting CEO of MHCC ACT, at the Mental Health Month ACT 2022 launch event on 8 October 2022.

I would also like to thank Aunty Violet for her heartfelt Welcome to Country, and acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the ACT, the Ngunnawal people. I recognise their continuing connection to land, sea, culture and community and pay my respects to their Elders, past and present.

I also want to acknowledge the individual and collective expertise of those with a living or lived experience of mental health. I recognise their vital contribution at all levels and value the courage of those who share this unique perspective for the purpose of learning and growing together to achieve better outcomes for all.

Mental Health Month is such an important time of the year for the Mental Health Community Coalition ACT. We coordinate the month here in the ACT, with funding from ACT Health and with incredible partners like Riotact and the WIN Network.

For those who don’t know about our organisation, MHCC ACT is the not-for-profit peak body representing the community-managed mental health sector in the ACT. We foster the capacity of the sector to deliver quality, sustainable, recovery-oriented services to support people with mental health issues and their carers.

Mental health affects all aspects of our lives and is important to every single one of us.

Almost half of Australians have had a mental health condition, and one in five Australians experience mental ill health each year.

Here in the ACT, one in ten people live with a long-term mental health condition, making it more common than arthritis or asthma. However, although we’ve come a long way over the last few decades, we still don’t talk about mental health as openly as physical conditions and there are many misconceptions about it.

Mental Health Month is held across the world each year in October to raise community awareness and understanding of mental health, reduce the stigma and discrimination associated with mental health conditions, and promote positive mental health and wellbeing.

We all benefit from looking after our own mental health and the mental wellbeing of our communities. Having a dedicated awareness month helps reminds us of the steps we can all take to break down the stigma around mental ill-health, maintain and boost our mental wellbeing, and prioritise mental health in our workplaces, networks and wider community.

The 2022 theme for Mental Health Month in the ACT is Awareness, Belonging, Connection.

Awareness is about understanding how to maintain and boost our mental wellbeing, realising when we need to reach out for help, and knowing where to get it.

Belonging is about looking out for each other, feeling safe and supported, and knowing that we’re not alone: there are others going through the same thing.

Connection is about our relationships: not just with our friends, families and those we care about, but also the groups, clubs, and networks we rely on to help us stay happy and healthy.

As you experience the activities today, engage with other elements of Mental Health Month over the next few weeks, and continue on throughout the year, I hope you’ll reflect on these themes of Awareness, Belonging and Connection and find ways to incorporate these elements into your life, both for your own mental wellbeing and that of the communities around you.

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