Bundy kids showcase art in CBD festival for mental health
AS PART of Queensland Mental Health Week, a non-for-profit organisation is hosting a special event to assist in raising awareness for the worthy cause and helping anyone who may be going through a tough time.
Together with the Bundaberg Region Suicide Prevention Network, the Wesley Mission's Marcus Mission will be hosting an open day event on Sunday, October 18, from 10am to midday.
The free event will be held in conjunction with the FOUND! Studio Dog exhibition and art trail and encourages the public to walk around the CBD at their own pace with family, friends, alone or with their pet dog.
Andree Roberts from Marcus Mission said this year's events were designed to bring people together to connect with others and raise awareness of the resources available within the community.
"Bundaberg has more relaxed Post COVID-19 restrictions but the mental health of most people in the community has been affected in many ways after being separated from support systems and family and friends," Ms Roberts said.
"Agoraphobia, anxiety attacks, depression and loss of confidence in public can paralyse people's ability to leave the house, so it is important for our mental health and wellbeing to connect at these community events."
Mentors from Marcus Mission will be there on Sunday, as well as representatives from Lifelife, Uniting Care and Headspace.
Free resources and 100 care bags will also be available to collect from the City Centre Arcade in the empty store besides Rockmans.
"It is an easy way to socialise on the local streets, get life back into the CBD, visit the Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery, see new businesses, meet people, walk the dog and find mental health resources," Ms Roberts said.
"We want a friendly atmosphere to encourage homeless, vulnerable, lonely and stressed people to accept our care bags which will be full of free personal care products, food and access to support services."
Members of the community will also find a display containing 200 artworks by children participating in the Student Art Prize exhibition, promoting art therapy for youth who may be struggling with stress related to COVID-19.
Children are invited to participate in a paw printing art activity in the City Centre, with FOUND! Curator Adrienne Williams and artist Marlies Oakley, creating a large installation of paw prints which covers three full sized windows in the arcade behind Alowishus.
"I'm so thankful to the SSS Strawberry family who are kindly sponsoring the day in their empty shop and Bundaberg East Veterinary Hospital who have donated prizes to distribute to dog walkers on the day," Ms Roberts said.
And the event has come at no better time with many facing unexpected loss, loneliness and obstacles as a result of the pandemic, placing a strain on many people's mental health.
"We recognise the stress many people have been under adjusting to the changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic and loss is one of the most painful emotions being dealt with," Ms Roberts said.
"Naturally loss of any sort, particularly losing a loved one to suicide or any catastrophic change in life like not being able to attend a family member's funeral, can have a horrific ripple effect on community mental health."
Ms Roberts said with many people struggling after isolation, it was crucial to practice kindness, check in on others and speak up if you are struggling.
"We all need to be mindful to be extra kind to people we are in contact with as no one knows the hidden pain many people are living with," she said.
"One genuine caring conversation or thoughtful act of inclusion can make all the difference to someone struggling.
"It is brave to speak up and offer to find the help someone may be needing but we are often (particularly men) too ashamed or stressed to ask."
Ways to recognise if others may be experiencing depression, anxiety or stress, is to look out for common signs such as withdrawal, emotional dysregulation and changes in behaviour.
"Let's come together and look after each other - call people you haven't heard from and delve deeper into what is going on in their lives or ask the questions - are you OK? Are you struggling with any issues at the moment? Are you having suicidal thoughts?," Ms Roberts said.
"If you are struggling, speak with a trusted friend or call or text Lifeline or the Suicide call back or text line because you matter."
Marcus Mission will also be holding their monthly Men's resilience-building workshop on October 26, at 9am, a free support group for men aged 18 years and older.
A breakfast will be held beforehand at 8am, at the Neighbourhood Centre at 111 Targo St.
The free resilience workshops are designed to train men on how to deal with painful emotions and the organisation also holds MENtor training for men who want to learn skills to support a mate who is going through a tough time.
"We meet monthly to work on practical ways to support the community, smash the stigma around suicide, support survivors of suicide and provide Service Finder Cards & events to bring resources to the community," Ms Roberts said.
"Collectively we try to help provide solutions and education to connect the community in a caring way."
If you or someone you know is struggling, phone Lifeline on 13 11 14, Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36 or the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.