October is Mental Health Month in NSW, and it aims to promote the importance of early intervention practices for positive mental health and wellbeing, and reduce the stigma associated with mental health. The awareness campaign is held annually every October so that it coincides with the World Health Organisation’s recognition of World Mental Health Day, celebrated on the 10th of October.
In Australia, the campaign is spearheaded by WayAhead and theirs partners by encouraging communities around NSW to get involved by organising events in their local community to promote mental health awareness and help reduce the stigma around mental illness as well as encouraging help seeking behaviours.
This year's World Mental Health Day has the theme suicide prevention. Every year close to 800,000 people take their own life and there are many more people who attempt suicide. Every suicide is a tragedy that affects families, communities and entire countries and has long-lasting effects on the people left behind. Suicide occurs throughout life and is the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year-olds globally.
What is WayAhead?
WayAhead is a a non-government, community-based organisation and registered charity under the QIC accreditation. This certifies that WayAhead has met the relevant standards and is participating in the QIC Program to build continuous quality improvement within the organisation. They are also a member of the Mental Health Coordinating Council, Mental Health Australia and the Forum on Non-Government Agencies.
The organisation helps to educate people throughout New South Wales on mental health and wellbeing and link them to services and resources that improve their mental health. Their vision is for a society that understands, values and actively supports the best possible mental health and wellbeing.
Among the projects WayAhead have and still working include:
- Coordination of mental health promotion activities such as Mental Health Month NSW, WayAhead Workplaces and Perinatal Depression and Anxiety Awareness Week
- Free anxiety support groups throughout NSW
- The provision of mental health information – the WayAhead Directory, mental health factsheets
- Education seminars such as or Understanding Anxiety Forums and Professional Development Workshops – for people living with a mental health condition, the public and health care professionals
- Small Steps workshops for parents and school teachers to raise awareness and improve recognition of anxiety disorders in children