Check on mates

By Country News

Mental health can be a touchy subject in rural areas.

Speaking at a field day in Girgarre last week, mental health support service beyondblue ambassador Paul Walshe urged the large crowd to not let this be so.

‘‘Local people are aware of the impact mental illness can have in our communities, and if you see your mate struggling and you are generally concerned, ask him if he is okay,’’ Mr Walshe said.

‘‘Country people are staunch, and if you are happy with the response you get, that’s great — but if you aren’t, you might have to take matters into your own hands and get them to their local GP, who is always the first port of call.

‘‘It is important to support people; by 2020 mental illness-related deaths will overtake heart-related deaths, and that is just staggering.’’

Mr Walshe was a policeman for 20 years, but mental illness forced him out of the job he loved.

He has been a volunteer ambassador for beyondblue for the past 12 years.

‘‘I had depression and didn’t do any of the things I should have, and it probably cost me realistically six to eight years of my life,’’ Mr Walshe said.

‘‘Once I was honest with myself, my treating practitioners, and I began taking my medicine, the turnaround was relatively quick and now I am in good health and life is great.’’

Mr Walshe said if you found yourself unable to enjoy basic things that you used to love, such as playing footy or walking the dog, for a sustained period of time, and you found yourself battling along, it might be worth getting some help.

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Readers experiencing thoughts of suicide or mental illness can phone Lifeline on 131114.