Keeping in Touch: The Value of Building Connections

Flourish_06-12-17_large_file -75ABOVE: Meeting up over a sherbet or two can be very therapeutic. Especially if you cycled there…PHOTO BY NEIL FENELON

By Warren Heggarty

In some environments, such as rural and remote areas, people can find themselves doubly isolated: both from the human connections that keep us all well, and from services that can support us in our recovery. Fortunately, Flourish Australia has over sixty services including throughout rural NSW and South East Queensland. 

Rebuilding connections

When people are unwell, they often withdraw from family and friends, and from activities they once enjoyed. But it works the other way round as well. Establishing or re-establishing connections will help us on our recovery journeys. 

Megan Millemaggi from Flourish Australia’s Leeton service in the NSW Riverina, has recently worked with *Charlie who benefited from re-establishing connections with people. 

Charlie’s mental health issues led to him leaving the military and pursuing a career in IT, “a career in which he was very skilled,” Megan tells us. “He worked for a large Agricultural firm. However, as often happens in IT, his role became quite isolating. Over time, Charlie’s marriage broke down and the isolation of his job took a severe toll on his health so that he began to retreat into himself, spending days and nights at a time playing computer games and closing himself off from society.”

“Exercise and companionship are a wonderful antidote…” Tony Abbott, describing non-medical methods of soothing mental health issues.   

“Fortunately, he sought help and after working with his Psychologist and counsellor, he referred himself to Flourish Australia to try to reconnect socially. He connected with the local men’s shed, the gym, and TAFE. He even put in place some self-imposed restrictions on his computer and internet usage.”

“Since coming to Flourish Australia, Charlie knows he has someone to connect to at any time he is feeling unwell.  We have watched him blossom socially so that he has become quite a role model for other people accessing the Leeton service, not to mention staff!”

Comrades for Men’s Health Week

During Men’s Health Week this year, former Prime Minister and Soldier On Patron, Tony Abbott spoke on the Alan Jones breakfast show about his 20 year role in the annual Pollie Pedal. This year, the event will raise money for Soldier On, an organisation that helps veterans with mental health issues. Speaking of the high rate of suicide among veterans and rural men, Mr Abbott told listeners that the solutions are not just medical. “Exercise and companionship are a wonderful antidote to the kinds of problems you’ve been talking about today…having a sense of meaning of life… comradeship.” (Abbott, 2019)

Asking for help is something that can make some men feel uneasy. “Are you bogged mate?” is an organisation started by Mary O’Brien in rural Queensland to support men on the land to deal with mental health issues. Sometimes when your tractor gets really bogged, you will need help from others getting it out of the mud. The same with your mental health. (Mary O’Brien Rural Enterprises, 2019)

It is good to know that progress is being made towards improving men’s mental health in rural areas of Australia. 

References

Abbott, T. (2019, June 12). Men’s Health Week, Suicide among rural and remote men and returned servicemen. The Alan Jones Breakfast Show. (A. Jones, Interviewer) Alan Jones. 2GB, Sydney.

Mary O’Brien Rural Enterprises. (2019). Are you bogged Mate. Retrieved from Are you bogged mate:

www.areyouboggedmate.com.au/about/

Pollie Pedal. (2019, July). Pollie Pedal Bike Ride. Retrieved from:

www.polliepedal.org.au/

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