Having a cuppa and a chat with a friend is even more important now, with local residents having the opportunity to reduce stigma around mental illness on the Gold Coast.
As part of the MyMind GC campaign, residents and workplaces are invited to post their photographs having a cuppa with friends or colleagues either at home, work or at interesting or iconic Gold Coast locations.
Participants can use their own cups, or takeaway cups and postcards developed specifically for the campaign, where they can write their name and pledge their support. These cups and postcards, which also have key messages about the campaign, are available from a number of local cafes on the Gold Coast.
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Janelle Reeves has had mental health issues for many years and said that she has experienced stigma and discrimination but there are ways to change attitudes. She suffers from anxiety and depression and has been diagnosed with Bipolar.
Her children also suffer from mental illness.
“When people ask me what they can do to stop stigma, I tell them to start the conversation with their friends, family and work colleagues,” Janelle said.
“Combating negative stereotypes and attitudes remains one of the most crucial aspects of promoting good mental health for all people. We believe that conversation leads to education which is a strong first step to stopping stigma.
“People need to understand that we can contribute to society in many ways and we can still be good parents, partners and employees,” Janelle said.
She said the family copes by “having a routine and a lot of communication with the kids and being able to share with them how I’m feeling on certain days, especially when I’m not feeling well”.
And she said “when I express that to the kids they are fantastic, they will come together and they will help me around the house”.
She has a few coping mechanisms too, sometimes she said her children will pop on her favourite CD.
My Mind GC is sponsored by the Partners in Recovery (PIR) mental health initiative, the campaign aims to normalise talking about mental health.
Matt Carrodus, CEO of Gold Coast Primary Health Network (group pictured below)and PIR consortia member, said stigma can stop a conversation about mental health from starting.
“We want to stop stigma and start having a normal conversation about a normal topic,” Mr Carrodus said.
“We want people to call a friend, go for coffee and check in on their mental wellbeing and we believe that the more people who see the campaign, talk about mental health, understand what stigma is and actively engage in showing support to stop stigma, can change attitudes and behaviours for the better,” Mr Carrodus said.
“We are encouraging people to connect with others and maintain strong relationships with people who support and enrich their lives as the quality of our personal relationships has a great effect on our wellbeing. Putting time and effort into building strong relationships can bring great rewards.
“People with mental illness are more likely to have smaller social networks and their network tends to decrease in size as the duration of illness increases which can be profoundly isolating, and this is only made worse when combined with the additional experiences of social stigma and isolation which impedes the healing process.
“Research has shown that an important part of having and maintaining good mental health lies in feeling included within society. For people living with a mental illness, social inclusion plays a central role in recovery. That is another reason why this campaign is so important,” Mr Carrodus said.
To find out where you can get takeaway coffee cups or postcards visit www.myMINDGC.com.
When you post your selfie don’t forget to include the hashtag #stopstigma. Also please tag @mymindgc for Instagram or the Facebook page at www.myMINDGC.com.