CWA starting a Sconversation about women’s mental health
"Start a Sconversation" - that’s what the Country Women’s Association of NSW (CWA of NSW) is asking communities across NSW to do during its annual Awareness Week.
This year’s Awareness Week is focusing on women’s mental health awareness and support services in regional, rural and remote communities, and how everyone can help make a difference when it comes to maintaining robust mental health both personally and in those around us.
With ongoing drought continuing to be a major challenge in many parts of the state - presenting enormous mental health implications in rural and regional areas – the CWA of NSW feels there’s an urgent need to shine a spotlight on the issue.
President of the Umina Beach branch of the CWA of NSW, Rikki McIntosh, said one of the organisation’s main messages this Awareness Week was the importance of a support network and regular catch-ups - or a ‘Sconversation’ - with friends.
“One of the strengths of the CWA of NSW is the supportive social network it offers women so our members understand the power of a Sconversation – boil the jug, sit down and enjoy a cuppa and a chat. Being able to speak freely in a supportive environment is important for anyone’s mental wellbeing and for those who are listening it’s an opportunity to offer support and some advice if it’s needed,” she said. “Just sharing out loud what’s might be worrying you can sometimes be enough to lift the weight people are feeling.”
Women on the land particularly, Rikki said, were often required to wear many different hats, and during the ongoing drought, may also be supporting a partner under enormous pressures, while also nurturing children suffering the mental health impacts of drought.
“These kinds of pressures will take a toll on anyone, and we all owe it to ourselves to be aware of family or friends who may be struggling, and also take notice of our own mental health and reach out if we need to,” she said.
Rikki said it was challenging enough to maintain strong mental health in country communities, where the ‘tyranny of distance’ was very real, and the ongoing drought was just adding to these challenges in many NSW communities at the moment.
The Rural Adversity Mental Health Program (RAMHP) is a major project of the Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health (CRRMH), and is a supporter of this year’s CWA of NSW Awareness Week campaign. RAMHP has 19 Coordinators based across regional, rural and remote NSW who inform, educate and connect individuals, communities and workplaces with appropriate mental health services and programs.
Rikki said the CWA of NSW welcomed the support of RAMHP and had produced a handy reference card for branch members to distribute locally during Awareness Week, with important support information from RAMHP on one side and the CWA’s famous scone recipe on the other.
“The aim of this information card is to help make people feel more comfortable about offering some advice to someone who they think may be struggling and we hope the scone recipe on the other side will motivate people to host their own ‘Sconversations’ – and make it a regular catch-up in the diary. Too many people feel like they have no-one to talk to and this Awareness Week our message is: that’s something we can all start doing something about,” she said.
As part of the Awareness Week activities, Umina Beach Branch of CWA will be holding a Monster Garage Sale in their club rooms at cnr Ocean Beach Rd and Sydney Ave Umina on Saturday 7th September between 7.30 and Midday.
If you would like more information about joining any one of the 13 branches on the Central Coast please do not hesitate to contact us at CWANorthumberland@gmail.com. We would love to hear from you.