MENTAL HEALTH: Now is the time to be a true mate
JUST because we're all distancing ourselves physically, it doesn't mean we have to feel alone.
That's the message from Darren Bosley and Stephanie Foster from Fraser Coast Mates - a group started by business owners to tackle the rise of debilitating mental health issues and rising suicide rates, especially in men across the Fraser Coast region.
Stephanie has come on board as the group's new communications officer to make accessing help in these unprecedented times as easy as possible through the Mates website and Facebook page.
Ms Foster, an owner of a local cleaning business, has experienced the loss of staff in the past month due to the current Covid-19 crisis.
Knowing the trauma and anxiety that is associated with letting staff go, she is now more determined than ever to help others in the same situation.
"We just want to get the message out there that we are here and offer ideas of what people can do to have their mental health front-of-mind, along with all the other stuff that is happening," Ms Foster said.
"Business owners and employees are going to take a massive hit on the Fraser Coast, so it's about making it as easy as possible for them to find information that they need so that they can make their mental health number one priority."
Mr Bosley added that there was never a more important time to stay connected, with the group boosting its Facebook posts to daily and live streaming initiatives being put in place to ensure face-to-face contact for residents feeling isolated.
He said Fraser Coast Mates was investing in communication and counselling services like never before.
"When we start talking about social isolation and mental health … they don't go together," Mr Bosley said.
"Part of the problem when someone is suffering from mental health, is that they tend to isolate themselves and feel that they are alone, and we don't want that during this time."
Mr Bosley said a key initiative would be introducing video conferencing and making a phone call, rather than texting.
"A lot of people may have to introduce themselves to video conferencing and there's lots of platforms with it like Facebook messenger, Skype and there's Zoom.
"They just need to make sure they get in touch with people and stay connected.
"The video conferencing is quite strange and uncomfortable initially but it's amazing, as you do it daily, it becomes a bit of a normal way for you to speak with people."
Fraser Coast Mates is also joining up with other local businesses that are struggling to promote their services on the Facebook page.
"We're talking about joining up with some businesses that are struggling, even getting a gym to do an online training program that we could promote through Facebook.
"We are also trying to find ways we can connect with the business community to check in and see how they are going too and help keep their business active through Fraser Coast Mates."
Like many other Fraser Coast events, the Fraser Coast Mates annual fundraising Golf Day on Friday, June 26, has been postponed until further notice.
If you know someone who is need of free counselling support, email admin@fraser coastmates.com.au for assistance.
Visit the Fraser Coast Mates website at www.frasercoast mates.com.au for links to a range of different services and contacts.
There is help available:
NATIONAL 24/7 CRISIS SERVICES