Health workers encouraged to take ‘time out’

RAISING AWARENESS: Lifeboat SE member Amy Bignell (back left) chats to Limestone Coast Local Health Network mental health director Pauline Beach with other members Dennis Chapman, Sandra Fox (front left) and Katie Fox about how they could raise further mental health awareness across the Limestone Coast district. Picture: MOLLY TAYLOR

By Molly Taylor

LIMESTONE Coast health workers have been encouraged to take time out this month to prioritise mental wellbeing through simple daily activities.

The Limestone Coast Local Health Network launched its Time Out October initiative this year as part of the Mentally Healthy Workplaces Framework.

In conjunction with Mental Health Week, which ran from October 4-10, the strategy involved a bright and colourful calendar designed to encourage health care staff to take a break each day individually or with peers.

The network is helping raise funds for Lifeboat SE through the initiative, a mental health support network which provides a safe and shared environment to discuss mental health.

The joint partnership has resulted in the development and distribution of counter cards for Limestone Coast businesses to spread messages of mental health awareness.

LCLHN mental health director Pauline Beach said Time Out October was all about bringing it back to basics.

“We know that this year has been very challenging for everyone in the community and for many local businesses, and that’s why it is important to look after your mental health and help others too,” Ms Beach said.

“Feelings of stress and worry are common when there is a health event happening in the community that is affecting people’s mental health and well-being, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s important to take care of yourself and check up on family, friends, neighbours and colleagues, and if you notice anything different encourage them to seek help.”

Ms Beach said some strategies to help maintain healthy mindset included staying active, adequate sleep, healthy nutrition, routine, connecting with others, and learning new ways to manage stress, such as spending time in nature or using art or music as a means of relaxation.

Lifeboat SE member Katie Fox said it was important to focus on mental health not just during October but every day of week.

“It would be nice to see people taking time for themselves more,” she said.

“Looking after your mental health should be a top priority as our brain controls everything.

“It is important we break away from that stigma and make sure people are mindful that there is nothing wrong with having a mental health issue.”

With Lifeboat SE now in its fifth year, member Sandra Fox said there was a huge mental health support network established in the Limestone Coast.

“Maybe 30 years ago, families suffered in silence and with the awareness there is now, there is no need for that,” she said.

“It is important for people to know that it is not only them, but there are many others out there who suffer from all types of mental illness.

“We are not councillors, but we have knowledge to help – we have connections with people and can help point you in the right direction.”

Member Amy Bignell said mental health should be a priority and not something brushed to the side.

“We are always so busy, rushing around to make sure everything is in order, that we actually put our mental health to the side,” she said.

“If you have not set mental health as your priority, the rest of your day may not be able to follow on and things may not be completed to the best of your ability.”

If anybody feels they may be in need of mental health support, it is advised they contact their general practitioner.

If mental health assistance is required outside of normal business hours, the Mental Health Triage Service can be contacted on on 13 14 65.

Limestone Coast fundraiser The Fully Monty will be celebrated as the final Time Out October event held on October 31, helping raise awareness and services across the region.

Lifeboat SE meet on the first Tuesday of every month between 6.30pm and 7.30pm at the Mount Gambier City Hall with the next meeting scheduled for November 3.