Trigger warning: This article contains content about suicide.

A Hunter crisis support agency is asking people to challenge themselves this October, during Mental Health Month, to raise funds for its local suicide prevention services.

Lifeline Hunter advocate and Newcastle resident Grant Sheather. Photo supplied

Lifeline Hunter has launched its inaugural Challenge Yourself for Mental Health campaign, encouraging people to set their own challenges from giving up coffee to walking every day.

Lifeline Hunter advocate and Newcastle resident Grant Sheather said he had gone down a dark path of suicide ideation and suicidality after dealing with some challenging and life-changing events.

Having experienced a divorce, the death of his parents and becoming a single father to his two daughters, Grant said he was overwhelmed and consumed with grief and loss.

“It was an extremely difficult time, but the responsibility as a single father and having my two girls with me was my real motivation to keep going,” he said.

“Over a very long time, I ended up taking a different direction psychologically and tried changing my thought processes and beliefs. I really started focusing on my girls and work. I started to step away from those bad thoughts.”

Grant decided to challenge himself and focus on completing an Associate Diploma in Psychology.

“I studied life coaching, grief counselling and crisis counselling. It was very profound for me because as I studied, everything started to become clear,” he said. 

“I finally understood my grief. The recognition of those behaviours really helped to pull me out.

“I started swimming again and going for walks. I love doing the Nobbys to Merewether walk, which is about 10km, and then 11 rounds up and down the stairs.

Getting out and walking is a great challenge and really beneficial for my mental health. I also love meeting people along the way. A lot of people I don’t even know wave and say hello because they see me so regularly.”

Grant now devotes his time helping others in crisis, connecting them to Lifeline, and using his own experiences and knowledge to help others struggling.

“I’m just so passionate about speaking up and spreading awareness. We don’t do enough of it,” he said.

“I just want to help people. That’s all I want to do. I want others to see that you can go through the absolute darkest of times and still come out the other side.”

To sign up for the challenge, visit www.challenge-yourself-for-mental-health-2021.raisely.com or get links from the Lifeline Hunter and Central Coast Facebook page.

Challenge ideas

  • Learn something new – a new language or hobby.
  • Get healthier – give up or cut back on coffee, sugar or alcohol.
  • Get fitter – set yourself a run, ride, walk or swim challenge.
  • Digital detox – give up or cut back on screen time or social media.
  • Better self-care – read some books or take up yoga.

All funds raised will go to Lifeline Hunter Central Coast services.

People who don’t wish to challenge themselves but would like to donate can do so via the Lifeline Hunter website: www.lifelinehunter.org.au.

Lifeline senior business development manager Pat Calabria said the service supported many people to navigate the mental health challenges of living through the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is an opportunity to challenge yourself to achieve better health or mental health while helping others to overcome their mental health challenges,” Calabria said.

“Challenging ourselves and meeting these goals can have a ripple effect through our whole community.”

According to Lifeline Australia, nine Australians die every day by suicide, and more than 65,000 Australians make a suicide attempt each year. Suicide is the leading cause of death for Australians between the ages of 15 and 44.

Lifeline Hunter and Central Coast held a zoom panel discussion on September 10 for World Suicide Prevention Day.

They provided a space for people to connect, listen and talk about suicide prevention. This discussion can be viewed on YouTube.

Lifeline services: Telephone: 13 11 14 (24 hours) l Lifeline Text: 0477 13 11 14 (6pm – midnight) l Chat online: www.lifeline.org.au (7pm-midnight) l Face to face and video counselling bookings: 1300 152 854.

Hayley McMahon

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