PEDAL POWER: Youth worker Pete Allan empowering conversation (and a television) in Mary St this week.
PEDAL POWER: Youth worker Pete Allan empowering conversation (and a television) in Mary St this week. Jacob Carson

Pedalling for positive mental health in Gympie

THE PHN is encouraging residents of the Gympie community to get involved in the various mental health events being held across the week for Queensland Mental Health Week.

The PHN's awareness events kicked off in late August at the PHN Mary St office which hosted the Converstation bike - a custom-built stationary bicycle used to start conversations about positive mental health and well-being.

The bike, designed and funded by the Gympie Region Mental Health Week Organising Committee, uses pedal power to convert energy to run a television connected to the bike, which plays topical mental health videos.

The bike is a metaphorical representation of mental health stigma in the community - everyone needs to pedal to keep the bike moving, so the 'conversation' on the screen keeps happening and mental health stays on our collective agenda.

The Converstation bike is just one feature of the combined RUOK day and Queensland Mental Health Week events the PHN is supporting as part of the committee, which includes representatives from several peak bodies in the mental health space in the Gympie region.

The committee includes members from Partners in Recovery, Gympie Mental Health Services, Gympie Regional Council, OzCare, Gympie Flexible Learning Centre, Gympie & District Women's Centre, COSY, RISC and UnitingCare.

PHN CEO Pattie Hudson says the event series, which began with RUOK day on September 8 and will run through until October 18, is a valued part of the organisations presence in the Gympie community.

"We're really excited to open the doors of our Gympie office to the community this Mental Health Week and over the course of the next few months so we can start having these conversations with consumers,” she said.

"Our PHN will play an integral role in designing and providing funding to service providers in this region over the next few years, so it's important for us to get behind awareness events such as this and offer our resources to the community.

"Our Gympie office is essentially an information centre for those looking for health access and support in all areas of primary health care, so we want consumers to know where we are if you're looking for a number to call or some support.

"We want to start conversations about what good mental health looks like and begin to break stigma around mental illness - the bike is a fun, visual way to do that”.

The Gympie Region Mental Health Week Organising Committee has arranged a wide range of events across September and October, including free creative writing workshops and art therapy classes.

The Converstation bike was displayed in Mary St on Monday to mark World Mental Health Day and will be a feature at the Gympie Gold Rush Festival this Saturday.

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