Wudinna will host the first in a series of events as part of a campaign across Eyre Peninsula this year to promote men’s wellness.
Hosted by Mentally Fit EP, under the West Coast Youth and Community Support (WCYCS) banner, the Rotary Men’s Wellness Campaign will see a series of photographic exhibitions take place in 10 Eyre Peninsula towns, including Wudinna, Elliston and Streaky Bay.
Community development officer for Mentally Fit EP Lain Montgomerie said the idea came about from Jo Clark of WCYCS, thinking of a way to promote better mental health and to support men in the region, as well as encouraging them to speak openly and promoting the idea of seeking help.
She said the campaign aimed to address a gap in mental health.
“We found more needed to be done for men who are slipping through the cracks and discussed how to reach the group at risk, being those in poor mental health and not accessing services,” she said.
“The idea was to create a photographic campaign utilising men in the region to be ambassadors to promote men’s wellness.
“We’ll be heading to 10 locations setting up exhibitions and in each town there will be an opening night with guest speakers.”
Ms Clark, Wudinna’s Shaine Dupree and South Australia’s mental health commissioner Chris Burns will speak at the Wudinna opening.
Ms Montgomerie said it was an opportunity to come together and have a chat with friends and other community members about any issues.
Wudinna will host the first exhibition from Friday, March 23 at the Gawler Ranges Cultural Centre’s main gallery, with photos by Eyre Peninsula photographer Robert Lang.
It is a free event to attend and will start at 6pm, with professional support at the opening if needed.
Exhibitions will remain open in a town for two weeks.
The exhibitions will be of local men which Ms Montgomerie said were taken in a place where they felt comfortable and happy – including on the farm, with cars, at the beach and in a workshop.
Ms Montgomerie said the main aim was to break down the stigma of mental health issues and discussions about it.
“We want to break that stigma and encourage people to talk to each other and say it is ok to do so,” she said.
“We also want people to know about the services which are available – people in the country dwell on the fact there aren’t many services, but there are some around that we want to make known to people.
“It is also about sending the message that people have the tools to keep themselves well.”
She said this type of campaign, the first run by Mentally Fit EP, was important.
“We are hearing too many stories of people taking their own lives and we see people who are unwell around us,” she said.
“It is important to have these campaigns happening and it is good to see events around mental health popping up around the place.”
The exhibitions will return to the West Coast later in the year with Elliston and Streaky Bay the venues.
Elliston will host their opening night on Wednesday, September 5 and Streaky Bay will be on Friday, September 7.
“Matt Runnels is speaking at Elliston and Streaky Bay, he is a director of Mindfull Australia who has experience of mental illness and suicide attempts, so he will be sharing his story with the hope to promote wellness,” Ms Montgomerie said.