October is Mental Health Month NSW and this year’s theme is “Wellbeing: Invest in Your Life”.

The Mental Health Association describes it as being about “… encouraging participants to take a holistic view of health and wellbeing. A person’s overall wellbeing can encompass not just their mental health, but also their physical health, social health, spiritual health and community health. These different domains of our lives can all work to support the creation and living out of happy, engaged and meaningful lives even in the presence of illness”. (www.mentalhealth.asn.au)

Details of events in Sydney and regional NSW are on the calendar on the association’s website. The site also provides fact sheets on mental illness and mental health, providing support, and maintaining wellbeing.

It also offers the Mental Health Information Service, phone 1300 794 991, Mon-Fri 9am-5pm. This provides information, support and referral related to all kinds of mental health and wellbeing issues (please note, they don’t provide telephone counselling).

While GLCS is a support service, not a specific mental health service, we do handle calls from many people about mental health issues. Last financial year we answered 149 calls related to mental health (over 9 percent of total calls), a slight drop in numbers from previous years (161 in 2009-10, 11.5 percent of calls and 165 in 2008-09, 11 percent of calls).

Furthermore, many calls relate to pressures that can negatively impact on mental health and wellbeing — isolation and loneliness, homophobia, negative responses from family and friends when coming out, relationship problems, etc.

Sometimes just talking about the issues affecting you can help you to feel better, or help you see problems in a different light.

Our counsellors are available every evening 5.30–9.30pm on 02 8594 9596 (cost of local call) or 1800 184 527 (regional freecall), or for women specifically wanting to talk to a female counsellor, Lesbian Line operates Mondays 5.30–9.30pm on 02 8594 9595 or 188 144 527.

We provide free face-to-face groups on sexuality and other life issues at the Women’s Coming Out Group on the second and fourth Thursday of every month at 7pm and the Talking It Out Men’s Discussion Group on the first and third Thursday of the month at 7pm, both at 43 Bedford St, Newtown.

We’ll be launching Social Saturdays on November 19, 4.30-6.30pm, a mixed social group on the third Saturday of every month. Check our website and next month’s column for more details.

INFO: admin@glcsnsw.org.au or www.glcsnsw.org.au

By Fiona Paskulich, the GLCS’s Program Coordinator.

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