A healthy society not only means that its members are physically
fit and of good health, it also means that they enjoy good mental
health. Equally, it means that those struggling with their mental
health can easily find the support they need to get better.
One of the groups participating in the Committee for Geelong's
leadership program, Leaders for Geelong, has made it its mission to
create a platform that provides our region with relevant and
effective resources and information promoting mental health.
The project - Healthy Minds Geelong - is built on the premise
that mental health is not just the absence of mental illness, but
in fact a state of wellbeing that allows individuals to realise
their potential, deal with life's normal stresses, work and
contribute to the wider community.
The group has focussed on developing a resource - www.healthymindsgeelong.org.au
- that not only offers information and guidance on how to navigate
the mental health system, but also provides details on relevant
health services available and tools and advice to help those
The website was launched at Deakin University's Waterfront
Kitchen in March 2016, with 120 invited guests taking in the guest
speakers' expertise - Jem Switajewski, owner and founder of 'Leader
in Life' and James Ferne, Facilitator for 'Collective Potential'.
Linda Batson, Comedian for 'WISE Stand Up for Mental Health',
offered a more light-hearted approach to the topic, based on her
own struggle with depression and how stand-up comedy helped her
along that journey.
An important part of Healthy Minds Geelong is to bring people
together to share their own experiences with mental health - or, in
fact, with mental illness - to help normalise the conversation
around mental health, to make it ok, and to show people that they
are not alone.
Mental health plays a vital part in healthy communities, not
just because positive mental health fosters more pro-social
behaviour and positive social relationships, but also makes a
society more creative, productive and innovative.
While the benefits of mental health are well documented and
widely known, there is still a damaging culture of silence around
mental health conditions, with people not talking about their
problems for fear of being stigmatised, discriminated against or
perceived as weak.
Healthy Minds Geelong seeks to address this issue, and the
project leaders are hopeful that the website will help to connect
people with mental health questions with service providers and
others in the community who have experienced mental illness in the
past - to help create a more informed, supportive and connected
Feedback from the launch event and responses to a survey
regarding the project showed overwhelming support, encouraging the
project group to investigate options for the portal's future growth
Healthy Minds Geelong has the potential to make a real
difference to our wider community. The more that individuals feel
comfortable talking to someone about their problems, have access to
services and a local support community of people with similar
experiences, the stronger - and healthier - we as a society can
Rebecca Casson is the Committee for Geelong Chief Executive
Officer. Follow the Committee for Geelong on Twitter
Leaders for Geelong's Healthy Minds Geelong team: Adam Watson,
Peter Derbyshire, Zoe Waters, Sarah Bullock, Steve Evans &