By Tiffany Bond
Facing your demons may be as simple as getting outside into the great outdoors for those who are struggling with mental health conditions, say event organisers for Mental Health Week.
In-touch-with-nature events can be helpful for those struggling with a mental health disorder, says Isabella Underwood from the community health centre Black Swan Health Ltd.
Her event, at Piney Lakes Environmental and Education Centre on October 9, included a number of activities such as reflexology, a cultural trail walk, meditation and mindfulness activities, and self-guided walks to help individuals interact with their natural surroundings.
“There’s many events that the Black Swan hold but this is the first event that we’ve had that’s been consumer driven,” she said.
“We have a consumer advisory group and we asked them for mental health week what would they like to happen. They said something about nature as you lose track of everything when you’re in suburbia. They said it would be nice to get back to nature.
“Participants get an opportunity to try something outside their comfort zone. So we’ve got ‘mindfulness’ going on at the moment, and some of them have said that they’ve seen these colouring books but never really thought much of it before. Now they’re in there and saying that they are really getting into this. And then we’ve got reflexology going on and they go ‘I’ve never tried that!’ So it’s really good for them to participate in things like that.’’
Every year, one in five Australians will experience some kind of mental health condition and about 14 per cent of Australians will be affected by an anxiety disorder. In 2007 the Australian Bureau of Statistics conducted its second national survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing which showed that only 35 per cent of people with a mental health condition used health services.
Mental Health Week, which runs until October 14, is celebrating 50 years of promoting Mental Health awareness with a number of events across Perth to raise awareness and connect sufferers with nature.