Bush mental health takes centre stage

Tick Everett talks mental health in Toowoomba


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Tick Everett, who is speaking out about bullying after losing his 14-year-old daughter Dolly.

Tick Everett, who is speaking out about bullying after losing his 14-year-old daughter Dolly.

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Living in the bush presents unique mental health challenges

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Tick Everett says it is crucial parents teach their children about the devastating impacts of bullying, after losing his 14-year-old daughter Dolly to suicide earlier this year.

Amy "Dolly" Everett took her life in January, sparking a nationwide push to stamp out bullying and even calls for cyber bullying law reforms.

Speaking at an event in Toowoomba to mark World Mental Health Day on Wednesday, Mr Everett said some children did not grasp the full extent of the things they might say to each other.

"Do kids even know what some of these things mean. Do they even know why someone would say that about someone else," he said.

Mr Everett was in Toowoomba to speak at the Unleash the Beast event on mental health awareness.

He said many families would experience the effects of bullying, but some parents may not fully realise what was going on with their children.

"I think a lot of families do experience it, and a lot of families go through it but they don't know they're going through it."

In coming weeks Australia's campdrafting community will unite in memory of Dolly, with women competing for the Dolly Everett Memorial Ladies Series Champion title at events in Chinchilla and Warwick.

"If you've got half an inkling that your child is that unhappy that they don't want to do this anymore, you've got to go as far as you can possibly go to help them," Mr Everett said.

An earlier session on the effects of mental health in the bush featured Tim Saal, from the Rural and Remote Mental Health organisation, Georgie Somerset, ABC director and AgForce deputy chair, and Craig Hamilton, the ABC Grandstand broadcaster. 

Ms Somerset said the signs of a mental health issue could go undetected in the bush. 

"Look at things like anxiety, which is much more common in the bush than we think. And what this can often lead to is depression and that's the concern," she said.

"The further west you go the more people are prepared to put up with some erratic behaviour. 

"Because if you are prepared to live in our town or live in our place, we want you to say here."

Tim Saal, who said isolation in the bush could exacerbate mental health issues.

Tim Saal, who said isolation in the bush could exacerbate mental health issues.

Mr Saal said the isolation of living in regional Queensland could lead to those with mental health issues withdrawing from their communities.

"The isolation and withdrawal [of people with mental health issues] is almost facilitated by those small communities," he said. 

It was important to keep an eye out for subtle changes in behaviour that might indicate family members or friends were going through depression, Mr Saal said.

"There are three things to include in that conversation. What you've seen, what you know, and whether there is anything you can do to help that person - knowing where it is that you can refer them on to, that's the critical step.”

Lifeline: 1311 14. 

Kids Help Line: 1800 55 1800 

Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636. 

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