BREAKING the burden of mental health.
That was one of the themes when actor and mental health advocate Sam Webb spoke at an event in Bathurst this week.
The co-founder of the non-profit organisation Livin - which aims to destigmatise suicide and mental illness - was the guest at the Bathurst Mental Health Expo organised by Catholic Care Wilcannia-Forbes.
"The message today was all about ending the mental health burden through really tangible takeaways and strategies that anyone in life can implement to help themselves and potentially help someone else who might be struggling," Mr Webb said of his talk at the event.
"But also, to go beyond that, to live their best life, as best they can, by employing real hard strategies around self-worth, self-care, adaptable planning techniques.
"I leave people with, hopefully, a takeaway: people can take some tools away to implement in their own life to help them navigate and to explore and to grow and to be the best version of themselves.
"But the theme, and the main theme of everything, is definitely breaking that burden around mental health and giving people the strategies to seek help before it's too late."
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Mr Webb said his interest in this area was personal.
"I lost a good friend to suicide back in 2013.
"I'm very passionate about sharing that story - the impact it had on many communities, and also the impact mental health has had on my life and my family's life.
"I've learnt first-hand the devastating impacts mental health has had and I hope that through what I've learnt, I can share those learnings and, I guess, pay it forward to other people and other communities so that they don't have to go through what I went through."
He said he was pleased to be at the expo with "some amazing service providers".
"It's a real wholistic approach to this, which I think is important," he said.
He said the stigma associated with mental health was slowly breaking down, but there was still a long way to go.
"I feel like it's a lack of understanding - a lack of understanding and education around mental health in general: what it means, how can you get and be mentally healthy, understanding what mental ill-health really is," he said.
"It's important to have these conversations so we can arm people with those resources to know that it isn't as daunting and as scary as people may think and you don't have to be a mental health professional to save someone's life.
"I believe it begins with listening and sharing and being okay with vulnerability. And being okay with not feeling 100 per cent. And understanding that we're all imperfect and perfection doesn't exist.
"It begins with accepting that it's okay to ask for help and that you're certainly not alone."
Sharnie Willis, family mental health support worker with Catholic Care Wilcannia-Forbes, said the expo was beneficial for the people that attended and she hoped, if the event was held again in the future, more young people would be involved.
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