The day began with prayer and a talk by CatholicCare psychologist, Tanya Russell. Tanya shared how the numbers of people experiencing mental illness have continued to increase, and how important it is to look after our own mental health. This can be done through social support, talking to others about not being ok or asking others how they are. It is important to invest time in being well, through exercise, sleep, healthy eating, mindfulness and living by our values. There are also support groups online, e-therapies and smart phone apps to assist with breathing and mindfulness.
We then heard a personal sharing of what it is like to live with Mental Illness. Noeleen’s openness and vulnerability touched everyone in the room, and her sharing was the highlight of the forum for many people.
All participants were then invited to take part in an Art Therapy session. This was led by Wendy Peacock and Suzanne Reid of Art Space. Suzanne shared how art aids recovery, as it is a bridge for communication and taps into the part of our brain that causes healing. Each participant was given a blank square on a sheet of paper, and directed to divide the square into random sections, and draw different textures in each section. It was a lovely relaxing activity, and one that can be done at any time by anyone.
The morning concluded with a wonderful performance by ‘Under Construction’, a choir that promotes positive mental wellbeing. The choir meets and performs monthly, and the members are a great community and support to each other.
Every person left the forum with a gift of a colouring book donated by ‘Better Homes and Gardens’, and pencils donated by ‘Officemax’.