Using mindfulness to combat stress

Gavin Morrow.
Gavin Morrow.

WITH suicide rates at a record 10-year high nation-wide, Horsham Healthy Minds is urging people to learn the art of mindfulness and to reach out if it all gets a bit much.

The Mail-Times reported last week that six Australian men take their own lives every day.

But Horsham Healthy Minds member Gavin Morrow said it did not have to be that way.

“Our initiative aims to combat depression and suicide in our area,” he said.

“Our program has been running in Horsham for five or six years and I was running it in Warracknabeal prior to that.

“We’ve learnt a hell of a lot in that time, but every time we hear there’s a suicide in the Wimmera, it hurts.”

Mr Morrow said Horsham Healthy Minds had had 20 people complete its mindfulness program through Horsham’s Centre for Participation.

He said the group worked in with experts to ensure people got the help and support they needed.

“We’ve been learning off the professionals, including Associate Professor Craig Hassed from Monash University,” Mr Morrow said.

“He’s a general practitioner (GP) and a lecturer at Monash, so he trains doctors.

“It probably hasn’t been widely documented, but there have been a lot of doctor suicides due to stress, so Craig has been introducing meditation to help his students handle their caseloads.”

Mr Morrow said Prof Hassed would visit Horsham for a fourth year and would speak at Wesley Performing Arts Centre on Friday, September 1 and at Federation University on Saturday, September 2.

The entry cost is a gold coin donation.

“Last year, Prof Hassed spoke on the cutting-edge science of epigenetics, revealing that stress is cumulative and is the root cause of most heart attacks, cancer and depression,” he said.

“To become stressed is a natural modern human reaction to our modern way of living, but to naturally de-stress is a modern learnt skill that can easily be taught.

“Mindfulness, as taught at Monash University, is a technique that helps develops these skills at little or no cost.”

Mr Morrow said Horsham Healthy Minds was also in discussions with former AFL coach Paul Roos to bring him to the region to run a series of mindfulness clinics with football and netball clubs.

 “When we’re on our iPhones or iPads, we’re not switching off, and we’re not getting those personal connections with people,” he said.

“We talk to a lot of people who are doing it a bit tough, but they are embarrassed to talk about it.

“But if you’re talking to a mate or a family member, you shouldn’t be embarrassed.”

Mr Morrow said donations were key to helping Horsham Healthy Minds host events and he thanked individuals and service organisations who had donated in the past.

Mr Morrow said anyone looking for advice or support was welcome to call him on 0418 504 985 for a referral or a confidential chat.

Anyone looking to donate to Horsham Healthy Minds to help cover the cost of mindfulness events was also asked to give him a call.

If you, or anyone you know needs support, call Lifeline’s 24-hour telephone crisis line on 13 11 14 or visit www.lifeline.org.au/gethelp. Young people can also visit Horsham headspace Horsham at 71-77 Hamilton Street, Horsham.