THE South East Junction has partnered with a group of locals who have experience in dealing with stress, depression and anxiety to deliver a new initiative called Lifeboat SE.
As the name suggests, the Lifeboat team will aim to help people manage stressful situations and will support early intervention to improve community health.
“There is no captain on a lifeboat, it’s just a crew of people surviving together,” Lifeboat SE founding member Matthew Brookes explained.
“We want to be there to help people that might be going through the same things we went through and show there is light at the end of the tunnel.
“I always thought I was big and ugly enough to handle anything thrown at me.
“I used to think the saying ‘you can worry yourself sick’ was silly, but now I understand it is possible and can happen to anyone.”
Mr Brookes said witnessing a traumatic accident and major changes in his workplace caused him more stress than he realised.
“I came across a fatality on the road and I was first on the scene and around the same time I had a lot of management changes going on at work,” he said.
“All these things built up and turned into stress, anxiety and depression.”
He said his high levels of stress manifested as physical symptoms.
“I had instances of blurred vision and I thought it was just age-related deterioration, but I was told I had 20/20 vision and figured out it was related to stress,” Mr Brookes said.
“I was tired all the time, but I could not sleep – we want to make people aware of the symptoms and get people to seek help early, because the worst case scenario is ultimately suicide.
“Lifeboat is a chance for us to share the tools we used to deal with stress or overcoming mental health problems.”
The Lifeboat SE logo hints at these tools, with symbols for sleep, exercise and social connection.
“Doing activities you enjoy is really important – I had no motivation to get off the couch and thankfully my family supported me and at least one family member would get me out of the house for a walk each night,” Mr Brookes said.
“Lifeboat is about sharing our experiences and supporting others and connecting people with appropriate support services in the city.
“People might feel more comfortable talking to a mate in a more casual setting first rather than in that clinical environment.
“We want to get away from the stigma – these are illnesses that can be repaired.”
South East Junction coordinator Nel Jans said the initiative aligned with the values of the mental health activity and resource centre.
“The crew of Lifeboat have lived experience and they want to share the tools they used to improve their mental health,” she said.
“The monthly get together will be held out of office hours and will focus on local mates supporting local mates.
“When they approached us it made sense for us to take on the program – it fits with our values and what we promote.”
Lifeboat SE will meet on the first Tuesday of each month at the level one conference room at the Mount Gambier Civic Centre from 6pm to 7pm.
A launch event will be held at Mount Gambier City Hall tonight, with drinks and nibbles from
Interested individuals, sporting clubs, community groups and businesses are invited to attend.