BY TIFFANY FORBES
Despite being in lockdown, Victorians have committed to support mental health research and suicide prevention with a number of fundraising initiatives springing up around the state.
This comes as a response to the 22 per cent rise in calls to Lifeline, which is an indication of how the new lockdown measures are taking a toll on the mental health of Victorians.
Mullets for Mental Health
For the month of September, the Black Dog Institute has encouraged people to grow a mullet for mental health research.
In light of this, Caitlyn Menzel, owner of Hunter Barbers in Geelong decided to personally donate one dollar from every haircut, beard, shave and product sold, as well as $10 from every mullet they cut to the cause.
“The devastating reality is that in one way or another, almost every person has been affected by mental health in some way,” Ms Menzel said.
‘I have lost two loved ones to suicide, and while you learn to live with the loss, you will never get over it,” she said.
The initiative has been positively received within the community and Hunter Barbers hopes it will help to reduce the stigma associated with mental health issues.
“It’s been awesome to have lots of our clients jump on board and cut in a mullet, so hopefully it can initiate the conversation about why they’re doing it,” she said.
Since the fundraising started in August this year, they have raised $912.
Participant Tom Willson said the initiative has been a “great excuse to bring [his mullet] back” whilst supporting those who need it most.
He too has set up his own fundraising page, supporting the cause and has already well exceeded his $500 fundraising goal.
Positive T-Shirts | @positivetshirts16
Founder, Neil Milton began clothing brand ‘Positive’ in 2016 after losing seven loved ones to suicide, with the hope of “chang[ing] the statistics to make a real difference”.
Each piece of clothing is printed with a positive message designed to start a conversation that could save a life.
“There is a myth that we have bought in Australia that says we can't talk about the tough stuff we are going through because somehow this means we are weak. This is a lie that we need to stop owning,” Mr Milton said.
“It is important we actively ask our mates, "how are you? Really?" That "really" is incredibly important,” he said.
As stage four restrictions continue, Positive has encouraged its small community to share how they have been keeping ‘positive’ at this time to keep the conversation going.
“Often customers will message us and tell us their stories...and how we are helping them. That feels pretty good,” Mr Milton said.
All apparel proceeds are donated to Talk Out Loud, a charity which runs camps and school programs focused on preventing youth suicide.
Suicide Prevention Awareness Network Geelong (SPAN)
This year, SPAN Geelong’s suicide awareness walk will go virtual for its 11th anniversary since the organisation’s fruition in 2010.
Executive Officer of Hope Bereavement Care (SPAN’s auspice), Salli Hickford said despite being online, the initiative still hopes to create an impact.
“The initiative we hope will stand with those left behind, to raise awareness that tough times pass and join together so we are not alone on this journey,” Ms Hickford said.
She recognises how the walk relies on community spirit, which the organisation hopes to keep alive in this virtual walk through social media.
“We are asking if you can walk, to walk between 10.00am and 12.00pm, posting photos and comments to our Facebook page to join together and create a sense of community,” Ms Hickford added.
So far, 124 participants are expected to walk in virtual solidarity for the cause this Sunday, September 13.
Cocktails for Charity
'Quarantini' started by Donna and Carly Dekort, as a small mother-daughter isolation project has managed to raise more than $42,000 in funds for Suicide Prevention Australia, in a short time.
Carly, who is studying a certificate four in fitness said she has a close relationship with her mum, being the only other girl in the house, and working on this project has given them the opportunity to spend more quality time together.
“We would often post pictures on Instagram [of the cocktails] and lots of people would reply asking for the recipes, which is when thought to put all of our recipes into a book and sell them to raise money for a charity that means a lot to us,” Carly said.
‘The Quarantini’, an e-book, contains more than 64 cocktail recipes as tried and tested by the duo, and costs $10, which is donated in full to Suicide Prevention Australia.
“This is a cause that hits really close to home for our family and many others as well.
“It is affecting even the happiest of people and we want everyone to know it’s okay to speak up and talk to someone,” Donna said.
One of their customers, Chloe Burns was happy to support a cause tied to such a prevalent issue.
“I study nursing and have just completed my mental health placement and that changed my perspective on mental health forever,” Ms Burns said.
“I think it’s a huge topic people don’t understand properly, so anything that raises awareness is great.”