Mental Health

Empowering stories

By Dane Waters

One of the many strengths of community media is being able to record local stories addressing local issues. A great example of this is in Geraldton, Western Australia, with a video project aimed at addressing the stigma of mental health and suicide.

We are helping the Geraldton Suicide Prevention Action Group to share their personal stories about mental health to raise awareness in the region, as well as promoting a big project they are working on (the videos below say it all). By utilising social capital in the community, the story is spreading with more and more people hearing about the project and the reason behind it. As the project continues those involved are gaining confidence in spreading their story, which is empowerment in action.

To follow this journey, check out the Geraldton Suicide Prevention Action Group Facebook page here.

Mental Health Week

This year Mental Health Week was from 8th-15th of October. During the week communities hold programs and events to raise awareness of mental health, with a focus on suicide prevention. Suicide is a leading cause of death for males and females aged between 15 to 44 in Australia (ABS, 2008). Almost eight Australians take their own lives every day (ABS, 2016). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are twice as likely to die by suicide (ABS, 2015).

Our HCR team, Dane Waters and Celeste Larkins, based in Geraldton, travel to communities in the Mid West, Murchison and Gascoyne and support the community to address local issues through community media. They know too well that mental health and suicide prevention is a main issue in all the communities they work, particularly for Aboriginal people.

Along with the continuing work HCR do to raise awareness of mental health and suicide prevention in rural and remote WA, in the lead up for Mental Health Week, Dane and Celeste assisted the local Geraldton suicide prevention working group to develop community service announcements (CSAs). These were broadcast through Radio MAMA and Meeka FM.

HCR also supported an event held in Geraldton, and were part of an outside broadcast put on by Radio MAMA. Community members and service providers participated in the broadcast. This ensured information not only reached Geraldton, but also Mullewa, Meekatharra and Carnarvon.

If you want more information on mental health visit: or see your local GP.

Dane in the middle recording the Drumbeat circle. Drumbeat is a program that can be used as part of therapy for someone with a mental health illness.

Dane in the middle recording the Drumbeat circle. Drumbeat is a program that can be used as part of therapy for someone with a mental health illness.

Bipolar: A lived experience from diagnosis to recovery

By Celeste Larkins 

Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide. It is estimated that 45% of Australians will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime.  In any one year, around one million Australian adults have depression, and over two million have anxiety.

The odds are high that during our lifetime we will be affected by mental illness, either through friends and family, or by experiencing it ourselves.

Research shows that there are similar rates of mental health issues in rural and remote areas of Australia, when compared with metropolitan areas.  However, the availability of mental health services in rural/remote areas and the ability for people living in those areas to access these services differs significantly from metropolitan areas.

HCR and partner Radio MAMA in Geraldton, Western Australia, have been working on a grass-roots project with the Mid West community to reduce stigma and break down barriers to seeking professional mental help.  HCR has been recording the stories of community members who have a lived experience of managing and recovering from mental illness.  These stories are broadcast on Radio MAMA, throughout the Mid West, aimed at connecting with listeners and giving them a greater understanding of the complexities of mental illness.

Listen to this inspiring interview with Cathy, who shares her story of living with bipolar and her journey to recovery.  It is by sharing these candid stories and encouraging an honest dialogue about mental health that community radio can give hope to those touched by mental illness.

If you think that you or any of your friends/family are experiencing symptoms of mental illness, please seek professional medical advice from your doctor.  For more information on mental health, call Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636 or visit their website:


1.Beyond Blue (2015).  The facts: Depression and Anxiety are Common Conditions.  Retrieved from,

2.The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (2013). Mental Health in Rural Areas.  Retrieved from,