A FORUM for locals suffering the barbs of mental illness will be held in Tamworth today.
The Being in the Country Recovery Conference will allow people to share stories of living with depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions, as well as pick up practical strategies for wellbeing.
For Tamworth man Rod Thompson, it’s important to share his mental health journey to help others.
“I had a major mental breakdown in 2009,” Mr Thompson said.
“I was not coping with life in itself. I was overwhelmed with everyday life. I was bedridden for about three weeks ... I was reclusive.”
He said gender expectations of toughness confronting men in the country could contribute to mental ill-health, as well as the pressure of ongoing drought.
“Australian men are presented with NRL and sport plastered in front of us ... we are supposed to be strong men who are unbreakable,” Mr Thompson.
One way for him to overcome the “debilitating illness” was to tell others about it, even his family, who came from a tight-lipped era where depression was never discussed.
“Depression is a very lonely situation – you perceive you are the only one battling,” Mr Thompson said.
“You’re not the only one, there’s a family of us.”
He said it gives comfort and strength to speak about mental health with others.
“That’s what I’m passionate about,” he said.
“It’s something bigger than me ... I feel like I’m giving back to society.”
Mr Thompson will give the keynote address at today’s conference.
Other workshops will explore values, meaning and purpose with Local Woman of the Year 2014 Sarah McFarlane-Eagle, positive wellbeing through Aboriginal story-telling and dance with the Gomeroi Dance Company, and strategies for positive wellbeing with Dr Alan Avery and Yarif Freestone.
The recovery conference will take place at The Wests Diggers Club, Kable Ave.