World Mental Health Day 2019

I am sitting outside in the sun and I am surrounded by nature. There are birds calling to each other and bees humming industriously, all invisible to me. The occasional fly zips erratically past and then doubles back to check me out. The breeze is moving through the trees, and the leaves twitch and flick as the branches sway in time with their invisible dance partner.

And I know how fortunate I am – I know that I am lucky to have been born at this time and in this place, and to wonderful parents who have given me a huge advantage in life. I have enjoyed good health – mental and physical – and there is not a day goes by that I take that for granted.

I am very grateful. This weekend, I am having a weekend away, catching up with some of my oldest and dearest friends. But, at the same time, I know that another friend of mine is dealing with the great challenge of caring for a child who is struggling with their mental health. Even though we might not see it every day, such concerns are very real for many of the people around us.

This year at Scotch, we have sought to remind our community of the importance of taking care of our mental health as well as our physical health. We do this regularly – at Mini-RUOK? Week in Summer Term; during Men's Health Week in Autumn Term; and as part of RUOK? Week in September – because every day should be a mental health day. Every day, we should remind ourselves and each other that self-care and care for others are central to what it means to be human. We are animals, and we are all connected, even though society and technology may conspire at times to make that more difficult than it should be to recognise.

Early this morning, I went for a kayak on the Swan River. As I put my kayak on the water at Claremont, there was an amazing fog shrouding the southern suburbs, to the point where it appeared that they had disappeared. Sometimes, even though things are hidden, we know they are there. We know that there are people in our lives who struggle with maintaining their mental health, even though we don't see that struggle every day. Our approach to our mental health should be the same as for our physical health – something that we talk about and see on a regular basis. We must invest in prevention as well as early intervention.

On World Mental Health Day, I urge everyone in our community to try to do the following:

  • Get out into nature more often – walk barefoot on the earth, feel the wind and the ocean on your skin, listen to the birds in the morning, smell the roses. There is something powerful about reconnecting to the natural world which may not cure all of our problems, but which can provide a pause and a little more energy to tackle them;
  • Take More Notice – take more notice of what is going on inside our own minds and bodies and what is going on in the world around us. Try to spot changes in the people in your life. But also, appreciate the little things, small points of wonder and joy which reside in every day;
  • Get help early and often – we are getting better at talking about these crucial issues, but it is not yet a habit. We have to set the example for our children and we have to have the courage to show our vulnerability.

The solution to achieving a standard of mental health that is universal and sustainable may still be some way off, but it lies in our collective efforts and our shared humanity.

Mr James Hindle
Director of Student and Staff Wellbeing

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Scotch College acknowledges the Wadjuk Noongar and Wilman Noongar people, the traditional custodians of the lands and waters on which the College and our campuses stand. We pay our respect to Elders past, present and emerging and acknowledge the Noongar people as the First Peoples of this place.