Esperance Turns Blue for mental health awareness

Esperance was awash with blue on Wednesday, October 9, for the annual Mental Health Week Turn Blue in Esperance Walk.

Esperance service providers and community members marched along Dempster Street dressed in shades of blue to raise awareness and break the stigma of mental health.

This year's Mental Health Week theme is about recognising how we live, learn, work and play impacts our mental wellbeing.

Following the walk, the crowd gathered at Post Office Square for a sausage sizzle, live music, colouring competition, information stalls and to chat with local services.

Attendees were invited to share their experience of mental health, write positive affirmations and take home a fresh bouquet of flowers donated by community members.

Event organiser and Bay of Isles Community Outreach service delivery coordinator Lisa Andre said the aim of the day was to reduce the stigma and remind the community that help was available all year round.

"If you don't have the community coming together then we are going to have a break down in the system and people with mental illness aren't getting the coverage that they need," she said.

"All year round show people respect, someone might just need someone to listen."

Bay of Isles Community Outreach community support worker Troy Gillis said it's important to understand everyone experiences mental health and no one should be afraid to reach out.

"People will often withdraw or isolate themselves away from society and community, so it is important to take all the steps to find someone to talk to," he said.

"We are trying to promote that it is ok to not feel alright at some stages, everyone will go through a mental health issue during their life.

"Its ok to find help, it's ok to talk to someone but it's also ok for the people around to be able to ask the question - are you ok?".

Psychologist Dr Lavinia Vaz said community engagement could improve everyone's mental wellbeing.

"Mental health is something that we all have, it's about enhancing our healthy mental health," she said.

"It's about getting us out there and being active and engaged in activities - to act, belong, commit."

Dr Vaz said it was important to check in on friends and family and to reach out to a professional if you need advice on how to support someone who might be experiencing a mental health issue.

West Australia Mental Health Week takes place from Sunday, October 6, to Saturday, October 12, with a range of community events held across Esperance.

For confidential information, advice and support, call beyondblue 24/7 on 1300 224 636.

In a crisis situation, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.