Walk together to raise awareness…

It’s Mental Health Week – an initiative designed to activate, educate and engage Victorians around mental health and related issues. The theme for Mental Health Week 2019 in Victoria is Mental Health: What do you know?

The truth is we probably don’t know enough.

In an effort to change that, Justine Brogna – a mental health social worker and psychotherapist, invites us to Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes…

It is not an easy thing to do. It can be difficult to step outside of our own experience and imagine what life is like for someone else – especially when that someone else is experiencing something that we cannot identify with or even see.

Mental health issues are often invisible. Anxiety and depression are commonly experienced, yet rarely spoken about, such is the stigma associated with illness of this nature. Justine is determined to change all that.

Founder and director of TreeHaus in Williamstown, her experience in mental health has been in both public and private sectors since 2002. Justine has worked at Headspace for adolescent mental health, and in multiple private practices across the area of Hobsons Bay.  

Justine has been a member of the Women’s Advisory Committee for Hobsons Bay Council. Advocating for women, with a focus on mental health issues that women face within their many roles. 

Exposed to mental health early – Justine’s mother was diagnosed with a chronic mental health issue back in 1997 – Justine was in year 12 at the time. This life-altering moment set the course for a lifelong career – Justine devoted herself to the field of mental health. Her commitment unwavering.

Walk a Mile in my Shoes – an event to raise funds and awareness, was put together by Justine to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness. Funds raised from the event are put back into the local community, to improve services for adults and to bring well-being programs into local schools.

Last year’s inaugural walk was a major success, with over 800 people in attendance. Held during mental health week, the walk was an opportunity for the community to come together, share stories and walk with pride, in support of one another in the face of the possible effects that can be associated with mental illness.

Besides Justine, the WAMIMS committee is made up of several people; those with direct mental health lived experience, carers, or practitioners in the field. On October 13, Justine and fellow WAMIMS committee member Jane McLaughlin – whose mother has also experienced mental health issues – encourage people to gather once again.

From 9am to 12pm the Commonwealth Reserve in Williamstown will be transformed into a sea of green, as the community stands together in support for all those impacted – whether it be those who experience the illness directly, or their family, carers, or friends. The event will also deliver an opportunity for mental health services to provide information stalls about the facilities that are available to the community. Participants can talk face to face with practitioners and receive pamphlets on how to access treatment or support.

Although the walk is about highlighting important issues, the day is ultimately set up to be uplifting and fun for all, with many activities and performances to enjoy. Support Justine’s efforts.

Wear something green and get your walking shoes on!

Melissa Longo


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