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NAROOMA CWA branch urges community to start a Sconversation about women’s mental health

The Country Women’s Association (CWA) of NSW will mark its annual Awareness Week from September 1 to 8 and is asking the local community to ‘Start a Sconversation’ to help raise awareness of mental health issues in the bush. As part of CWA of NSW Awareness Week, the Narooma will host an open day at their rooms on Fri 6th Sept from 10am til 1pm. Cuppa and snack available for free.

This year’s Awareness Week is focusing on women’s mental health awareness and support services in regional, rural and remote communities, and how everyone can help make a difference when it comes to maintaining robust mental health both personally and in those around us.

With ongoing drought continuing to be a major challenge in many parts of the state - presenting enormous mental health implications in rural and regional areas – the CWA of NSW feels there’s an urgent need to shine a spotlight on the issue.

President of the Narooma branch of the CWA of NSW, Bernice Gale, said one of the organisation’s main messages this Awareness Week was the importance of a support network and regular catch-ups - or a ‘Sconversation’ - with friends.

“One of the strengths of the CWA of NSW is the supportive social network it offers women so our members understand the power of a Sconversation – boil the jug, sit down and enjoy a cuppa and a chat. Being able to speak freely in a supportive environment is important for anyone’s mental wellbeing and for those who are listening it’s an opportunity to offer support and some advice if it’s needed,” she said. “Just sharing out loud what’s might be worrying you can sometimes be enough to lift the weight people are feeling.”

Women on the land particularly, Bernice said, were often required to wear many different hats, and during the ongoing drought, may also be supporting a partner under enormous pressures, while also nurturing children suffering the mental health impacts of drought.

“These kinds of pressures will take a toll on anyone, and we all owe it to ourselves to be aware of family or friends who may be struggling, and also take notice of our own mental health and reach out if we need to,” she said.

Bernice said it was challenging enough to maintain strong mental health in country communities, where the ‘tyranny of distance’ was very real, and the ongoing drought was just adding to these challenges in many NSW communities at the moment.

The Rural Adversity Mental Health Program (RAMHP) is a major project of the Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health (CRRMH), and is a supporter of this year’s CWA of NSW Awareness Week campaign. RAMHP has 19 Coordinators based across regional, rural and remote NSW who inform, educate and connect individuals, communities and workplaces with appropriate mental health services and programs.

RAMHP Program Manager Tessa Caton said it was a great initiative from the CWA of NSW to draw attention to mental health issues in rural and regional NSW, and particularly around women, with statistics showing women experience some mental health conditions at higher rates than men. One in six women in Australia will suffer from depression and one in three women will experience anxiety during their lifetime.

Bernice said the CWA of NSW welcomed the support of RAMHP and had produced a handy reference card for branch members to distribute locally during Awareness Week, with important support information from RAMHP on one side and the CWA’s famous scone recipe on the other.

“The aim of this information card is to help make people feel more comfortable about offering some advice to someone who they think may be struggling and we hope the scone recipe on the other side will motivate people to host their own ‘Sconversations’ – and make it a regular catch-up in the diary. Too many people feel like they have no-one to talk to and this Awareness Week our message is: that’s something we can all start doing something about,” she said.

More information on the assistance RAMHP offers can be found at http://www.ramhp.com.au/

Video: RAMHP Profile - Tessa Caton

As part of CWA of NSW Awareness Week, the Narooma will host an open day at their rooms on Fri 6th Sept from 10am til 1pm. Cuppa and snack available for free.

Local women interested in joining the Narooma branch of the CWA of NSW can monthly meetings held 1st Friday each month 1pm start. Handicraft meets Fridays 10am-noon, choir/ drama Tuesdays 1.30pm til 3.30pm.

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