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Baby Steps Forward for Mental Health

Hello Lovelies!

I am super excited to be taking part in The Black Dog Institute's "One Foot Forward" campaign, walking 100 km in October, raising funds for vital research in (but not limited to) the following areas:

- Suicide prevention

- Digital mental health

- New treatments and models of care

- Workplace mental health

- Translation and implementation of models of care (from research to final implementation)

- Youth mental health

They also provide a wealth of resources on their website and out in the community to assist in dealing with all types of mental health issues.

Now, I have been passionate about mental health advocacy for quite some time, but I felt like I hadn't done enough to match my passion. OK, so I wrote a book, which I am pretty proud of ("Tinker Tailor's Toolbox - For Mending Broken Hearts") but after this was written I still felt that I had only deposited one tiny drop in the ocean of mental health advocacy. "Tinker" was written as a preventative mental health resource for kids, getting kids thinking about taking care of their inner world from an early age. The book prompts the reader to create a mental health toolkit (a "Happiness Toolbox") and to spend a few minutes every day honing their happiness skills. It is perfect for crafters and is in fact a fun activity for all ages. I am happy to say that since I turned on the tap of creativity, there has been a flood of ideas and many more books are in the proverbial pipeline! However, all of this takes time. So, I got to thinking what it was that I could do in the meantime. The answer is the same of any dream: just take baby steps.

So, I took a baby step. I approached some other authors writing about mental health, trauma and suicide and asked them if they wanted to make some noise about this important issue. More to come on this very soon - exciting times ahead!

I took another baby step - I started writing about mental health on social media and shared about my own mental health journey and how the impacts of an autoimmune disease rendered my own inner world dangerously unbearable. I made a few people uncomfortable and I had family from overseas getting in touch with me to make sure I was ok (which was lovely, but I didn't like the fact that I had got them worried even though it was done in my pursuit of mental health advocacy).

I then took another baby step and that was to sign up to The Black Dog Institute's "One Foot Forward" campaign, committing to walking 100 km to raise funds for mental health research. I have not overcommitted in terms of the kilometres I have pledged to walk or money I have pledged to raise (I have set my fundraising target at $120, which I feel is more than achievable).

Mental health advocacy is not everyone's passion, but imagine if we all took as many baby steps as we could for our communities? What a profound impact this would have on our society as a whole. Over 2,000 people die worldwide every single day to suicide. Depression is a killer. There are such simple things that we can do:

- Listen. Sometime simply listening to someone without judgement is all they need.

- If you notice someone is struggling, phone them to check how they are.

- Invite someone for coffee if you feel they are doing it a bit tough.

- Pin some information to your work noticeboard about the EAP

(Employee Assistance Program) or phone numbers and website links

of relevant organisations such as Lifeline or The Black Dog Institute.

- Check in on parents of infants or parents of children with disabilities.

- Check in with friends who have been through a separation and are doing it tough.

- Learn the warning signs of severe mental distress (withdrawal, talk of suicide, personality change, mental breakdown).

- Ask a person you are concerned about if they have seen their doctor about a mental health treatment and recovery plan. - Offer some simple, practical help (such as meeting to exercise, cooking a meal or babysitting).

- Simply let someone know that you are there to listen if they need to talk.

- Share mental health apps and podcasts with friends who you think might benefit.

If you choose just one thing this year, that something might just change a life or save it - you never know! Baby steps - that's all we can ever do...

Thanks for reading and take good care of yourself.

With love (and a happy dance)

Lindy x o x o

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