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Canberra Today 3°/9° | Saturday, April 13, 2024 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

When the community stepped up to help

AS a community, we’ve learnt a lot from COVID-19; we’ve discovered that working from home is a possibility in more roles than we imagined (whether we enjoy it or not). 

Bec Cody.

We’ve become familiar with acronyms such as TGA, CMO and mRNA. We’ve come to accept that it’s not a real Zoom meeting until someone has to say: “You’re on mute”.

But the biggest lesson from the pandemic, to me, is how essential community is to our mental health.

Over the last two years, many Canberrans have experienced a massive hit to their mental wellbeing and resilience. Trying to work while schooling children at home, losing independence, work hours or employment altogether, and the constant stress of seeing those we care about fall sick and hoping it isn’t us have taken their toll. 

Unsurprisingly, the number of people in the ACT experiencing mental health conditions skyrocketed.

But through all this, we also discovered that we have a community to support us.

When we were forced to go without human connection in person, many of us resorted to phone calls, video chats, Netflix parties and singing from our windows. Groups of people banded together to cook and deliver meals to people in isolation. Neighbours we’d never met before offered help when we needed it.

At a time that could have broken our communities apart, we instead pulled closer together.

The shared experience of living through a pandemic demonstrated that we are never truly alone in what we are going through. And the same is true of mental ill health.

That’s why this year’s Mental Health Month ACT theme is “Awareness, Belonging, Connection”. 

Held in October each year, Mental Health Month is an opportunity 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.

It’s a time to learn how we can each maintain and boost our mental wellbeing and reach out to support others in need. It’s a reminder to celebrate community solidarity and develop our networks, so we have people to call on when we need it. Because through all we are enduring, every Canberran deserves to be happy and healthy.

With a wide range of community-run events across the ACT in October, Mental Health Month ACT 2022 will include opportunities for every Canberran to engage in the topic of mental health.

If you have an idea for a great community event that promotes positive mental health, applications are open for reimbursement grants of up to $5000 to help run your event. These grants are available to organisations, community groups, schools, universities and faith-based groups in the ACT. 

Find out more at mentalhealthmonthact.org

Bec Cody is a former MLA and CEO of the Mental Health Community Coalition ACT, the peak body for community-managed mental health in the ACT.

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