ENCOURAGING Dalyston Football and Netball Club members to discuss mental health warning signs, stigma and how to help a mate if they are suffering; local wellness coach Bobbie Lee Blay from Outside The Locker Room (OTLR) put her own story on the table and brought a bold insight into mental health last week.
Developing positive culture around mental health, the OTLR team has been travelling to sporting clubs around Gippsland for the past 12 months, and last Thursday night was Dalyston’s turn.
In their recently completed clubrooms, the evening was well-timed and not simply because of the new facilities.
Highlighting the trauma of road accidents, both Bobbie and the club had both recently suffered.
Bobbie was brave and forward to announce her difficult six months, losing two parents and her daughter.
She encouraged listeners to respect their feelings and seek help if they needed it.
“Don’t numb the pain, it did happen. The power of hugs and just being there with someone when they need you is what matters,” encouraged Bobbie.
Bobbie’s message showed the audience first-hand the power of communication around mental health.
“The power of a club like Dalyston or any sporting clubs is that you have hundreds of people, and there’s a good chance someone has been through similar things that you are going through.”
Breaking into groups, club members discussed what signs they might expect when noticing a friend going through mental health issues.
A change in personality, anxiety, anger, moodiness; social withdrawal and isolation, lack of self-care or risky behaviour; and a sense of hopelessness or feeling overwhelmed were all answers from the groups.
The second question put to the groups was what to do when someone they know comes to them to discuss their mental health problem.
Bobbie suggested, “letting them know you care, discussing their feelings, treating them with dignity and respect.”
Most importantly she said, was to keep in mind your own self-care and encourage others to seek professional help.
Finishing the evening was a video ‘tell-all’ story of Shane Kelton.
He suggested having a variety of techniques, like ones that helped him out of depression.
“For me, I used to rely on having a girlfriend and playing sport for my mental health,” recalled Shane.
“I went through a time I was injured and had neither.
“It’s taken me a long time, but now I see I need a variety of physical, cognitive and positive emotional things [to] keep my mind happy.
“People that are going through difficult times need focus on helping themselves by seeing a doctor and building a program – it’s what’s really helped me,” said Shane.
Club president Andy Thomas was impressed by the evening and found it brought a caring insight to mental health.
“It helps open people’s eyes up to what life’s about, we’ve got to keep an eye on the people around us,” he said.
“There are times in life that put a lot of pressure on us. It’s great that OTLR could come here.”