There’s no arguing that 2020 has been a stressful and unsettling year, which is why Queensland Mental Health Week couldn’t come at a better time.
The state-wide event runs from October 10 to 18 and is a joint initiative by the Queensland Mental Health Commission and a number of mental health organisations from around the state.
The week, which is funded by the Queensland Mental Health Commission, is designed to increase awareness of, and reduce the stigma around, mental health issues, and will feature a range of community-based events and activities.
Among the many organisations getting involved in the event are Open Minds Australia, the Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council, Queensland Health, the Council on the Ageing Queensland, and Mates in Construction.
Not-for-profit organisation CheckUP is responsible for coordinating the week’s events, and organisation CEO Anne Maree Liddy said the event would provide an opportunity to promote both individual and community wellbeing.
“Queensland Mental Health Week aims to shine a spotlight on what all of us can do to look after our mental health and reach out to those who need support, as well as provide an opportunity to celebrate the contribution of the mental health and community sectors,” Ms Liddy said.
This year’s event will continue with the same theme as the 2019 event, “Take time – for mental health”, and recognises the importance of making mental health a priority.
The theme revolves around six simple actions proven to boost wellbeing: Get healthy, keep learning, show kindness, connect more, take notice and embrace nature.
According to Ms Liddy, one in five Queenslanders experience mental health issues each year, with 50 per cent of the population experiencing such an illness over their lifetime.
“We all need to take time to focus on the things that can sustain and maintain our mental wellbeing, particularly when life is challenging or during periods of change, such as that which has been brought on by COVID-19,” she said.
Groups and organisations from all walks of life are encouraged to register events as part of Queensland Mental Health Week, including not only specialist mental health organisations, but also schools, workplaces, sporting clubs and community organisations.
So far 144 events have already been registered around the state, with many more expected to be added to list as the week approaches.
One Brisbane-based event, which is hosted by the Mental Health Awareness Foundation, is the 2020 Walk for Awareness.
The 8km walk is designed to raise awareness about the eight Australians who die each day by suicide.
Participants can register for the event at www.walkforawareness.org.au, and share a fundraising page before commencing the walk.
The in-person walk takes place in Brisbane’s Captain Burke Park on October 11 from 8am.
COVID safe measures will be in place for those who wish to participate in the physical walk, while those who wish to participate from home can take part in a live-streamed virtual walk from anywhere in the state.
The organisation’s PR manager Courtney Akrigg said virtual walkers were invited to commence their own walk within their own communities on the same day as the group event.
“We want all of Australia to unite and walk on the same day, virtually anywhere,” Ms Akrigg said.
“This can be in their backyard, [on their] balcony or in their local community,” she said.
“All registered participants and teams will receive a t-shirt to sport around their community and we encourage virtual walkers to share promotion via their own networks and send through content that the Mental Health Awareness Foundation can feature on the live production, which will be running across the morning on their Facebook channel.”
Other major events forming part of Queensland Mental Health Week include: Light Up Brisbane on October 10, which will see many major landmarks around Brisbane light up for World Mental Health Day beginning at 5pm; Art Works, which includes a series of art workshops led by Recovered Futures Art Exhibition running from October 12 to 17; and Odd Socks Day on October 9, which invites participants nation-wide to wear odd socks and start a conversation about mental health.
To get involved in Queensland Mental Health Week and to find events in your local area, visit www.qldmentalhealthweek.org.au.