New leader for family mental health service in Hervey Bay

You are here: mental health
Last updated:

It’s a big period of change for IMPACT Community Services’ Amy Griffiths.

As the new Team Leader of IMPACT’s Family Mental Health Support Services (FMHSS) in Hervey Bay, Amy is also looking forward to becoming an Australian citizen and using her skills and experience to help children and families in the region.

The FMHSS aims to improve mental health outcomes for children and young people, and their families, by providing early intervention support, short-term assistance, and community outreach and education.

IMPACT, which has successfully operated FMHSS in Bundaberg for 15 years, has recently taken over the contract to provide this vital service to the Hervey Bay and Fraser Coast region.

Last financial year, IMPACT’s FMHHS supported 110 short term and 39 long term clients, as well as an additional 342 people through group and community forum sessions.

Amy, who moved to Australia from New Zealand and fell in love with the Fraser Coast, is passionate about working with the youth and helping them overcome challenges and achieve their goals.

She will be based at the Hervey Bay Neighbourhood Centre, where she and the FMHSS team will work closely with other community organisations and stakeholders to deliver the FMHSS program.

"I'm so excited. It's where my heart is, working with the youth...it's where my passion is," Amy said.

The FMHSS welcomes referrals from families, schools, health professionals, and other agencies and can be contacted by calling 0473 533 491, or visiting the Hervey Bay Neighbourhood Centre, 22 Charles Street, Pialba.

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya discusses perfectionism, social media, and the toll it takes on our mental health.

By IMPACT Community Services Managing Director Tanya O'Shea

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

In today's digitally connected world, social media has become a stage where many of us showcase curated versions of our lives. Picturesque vacations, flawless selfies, and tales of unending success often dominate our feeds. However, the truth is that appearances on social media can be profoundly deceiving. Beneath those seemingly perfect lives lie complexities that may never make it to the Instagram grid or the Facebook wall.

As I reflect on this, I am reminded of a friend whose online presence always seemed enviable. Her posts were a collage of impeccable moments – stunning travel photos, impressive career achievements, and seemingly flawless relationships. Her life appeared to be the epitome of perfection. But as we got closer, I began to see a different story unfold.

The facade of her perfect life on social media masked the emotional struggles she endured. The pressure to maintain that illusion of perfection took a toll on her mental health. Her achievements were hard-won and came at the expense of countless sleepless nights. The beautiful travel pictures did not capture the moments of loneliness and homesickness she experienced while abroad. The seemingly perfect relationship she presented had its share of conflicts and compromises.

In the age of filters and selective sharing, it's crucial to remember that what we see on social media is often only a fragment of someone's reality. The pursuit of perfection can lead us to filter their lives, hiding their vulnerabilities and challenges behind a carefully crafted facade. It's a stark reminder that comparing our lives to others' highlight reels can be a fruitless and disheartening endeavour.

Perfectionism, whether driven by personal standards or the pressure to meet external expectations, often plays a role in perpetuating these misleading appearances. The desire to present oneself as flawless can lead to a disconnect between our real experiences and the image projected online.

So, what's the takeaway in this era of picture-perfect profiles? First, it's essential to approach social media with a critical eye and an understanding that appearances can be deceiving. Remember that most people share their best moments while leaving the rest unspoken. Second, it's vital to practice self-compassion. Embrace the imperfections and acknowledge that nobody's life is devoid of challenges.

The next time you find yourself scrolling through a friend's feed, marvelling at their seemingly ideal life, remember that beneath the filters and perfectly crafted posts lies a human being with their own set of struggles and triumphs. After all, the pursuit of perfection may be an admirable endeavour, but it's essential to remember that perfection is not a requirement for happiness or success. In embracing the authenticity beneath the facade, we find a path to genuine connection and personal growth.

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya discusses the complex and sensitive subject of trauma.

By IMPACT Community Services Managing Director Tanya O'Shea

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

“Words matter because clarity in words is a part of clarity in thinking, and because some words carry great emotional and symbolic weight, and thus should be not used lightly.” —Jeffrie G. Murphy

These words resonate deeply in today's context with increasing awareness around the importance of mental well-being, specifically regarding psychological trauma and the devastating impact that it can have on individuals, families and even communities.

Almost daily we hear people referring to trauma, sometimes even using it to label or explain another person’s experience. Let’s call this out early: unless you are a mental health professional or have lived experience, we should not label other people’s experiences. One person's experience of trauma can vastly differ from another's.

It is easy to understand why trauma has become somewhat of a catchphrase today. For too long, people have struggled to share their experience, perhaps even feeling misunderstood, unheard, or invalidated when speaking up or sharing openly that they are not coping. Sharing that you or someone you know is traumatised however, is not as easy to ignore.

Sometimes we feel stuck, uncertain if what we have gone through, or are going through, is trauma. It is a loaded word, often used to explain the discomfort or pain that we are experiencing. And sometimes, it is even used to justify poor behaviour that has resulted in a negative impact or outcome. 

Trauma is an ever-evolving field, and this article has a limited word count so let’s keep things super simple. Trauma literally means ‘wound, injury or shock’ and is the emotional, psychological, and physiological residue resulting from a stressful event.

Simple trauma is often overwhelming and painful, and rarely would anyone who has experienced simple trauma, refer to it as ‘simple.’ It is often a single event, something that may be life-threatening or cause serious injury, and may include things like natural disasters, car accidents or being the victim of a crime such as a rape or home invasion.

In comparison, complex trauma goes beyond a one-off incident and generally includes multiple incidents over a longer duration. Complex trauma tends to be repeated, may be difficult or impossible to escape from, may occur within a personal relationship or may begin as early as childhood, and can be something that an individual carries with them through to adulthood. People who experience complex trauma often feel disconnected from the support of others.

Even though simple and complex trauma are similar in many ways, they have some important differences. One thing to highlight is the element of shame and secrecy that often accompanies complex trauma. Simple trauma is usually validated, sometimes through acknowledgement, media coverage or recognition from family, friends, law enforcement or other societal systems.

In comparison, complex trauma is ongoing, with very little opportunity to recover before the pattern is repeated. It often occurs in secrecy and may be accompanied by threats and behaviours that compromise the safety of individuals or others within their family.

Irrespective of the type of trauma, unresolved symptoms such as anxiety, sleep problems, low energy, fatigue or an overreliance on drugs and alcohol will have an adverse effect on an individual’s mental and physical health and wellbeing. As a community we therefore have a responsibility not to offer responses that are unhelpful, judge or blame victims as this further disempowers them and leaves them a target of ongoing threats, violation, or violence. 

Trauma, and the reactions of others, can have lasting effects on a person's mental and physical health. However, it doesn't have to shape their future. Trauma can be treated, and if you or someone you know can relate to the content here, it is important to seek support. With the right support and guidance, the challenges of trauma can be overcome.

If you would like more information about trauma, jump on and check out the resources at blue knot: https://blueknot.org.au/resources/blue-knot-fact-sheets/talking-about-trauma/

In this enlightening Stronger Together episode, we tackle the often overlooked topic of men's mental health with our esteemed guest, Aaron Schultz, founder of the Outback Mind Foundation. Aaron's insights shine a spotlight on the unique challenges faced by men in today's fast-paced society, particularly those grappling with the unpredictability of shift work and other modern-day pressures.

Drawing from his extensive experience and personal journey, Aaron underscores the significance of aligning with the Earth's natural circadian rhythms. He believes that by attuning ourselves to these inherent patterns, men can find a more harmonious mental space, even amidst the complexities of contemporary life.

We further discuss a myriad of actionable strategies for maintaining balance and mental wellness. From the grounding effects of nature and the calming benefits of stretching, Aaron offers practical techniques to help men release tension and achieve inner tranquillity. The conversation also touches on the vital role employers and communities play in creating supportive environments for men's mental wellbeing.

Emphasising the importance of community-wide efforts, Aaron passionately advocates for a collective approach in addressing and de-stigmatising men's mental health issues. This episode serves as a poignant reminder of our shared responsibility to uplift and support men in their journey towards mental harmony.

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya discusses the different types of mental health professionals and the services they offer.

By IMPACT Community Services Managing Director Tanya O'Shea

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

Life can throw some significant challenges and hurdles at us, so getting access to the mental health support and help that we need, when we need it, is important.

Yet when it comes to getting help, who do I need to see?

This is a common question and can be frustrating and overwhelming for many of us. However, the bigger concern is that it is even tricker to navigate if you are experiencing mental health symptoms and have not asked for help before.

In today’s column, I therefore wanted to demystify the different types of mental health professionals and the services that they can provide. It can be challenging to understand the nuances between the various types of mental health professionals, but it’s essential to know what each one does so that you can get the help you need. Let’s dive in!

Psychiatrists are medically trained doctors who specialise in diagnosing and treating mental illnesses. They can prescribe medication and provide therapy.

Psychotherapists are trained in a range of therapies to improve mental wellbeing, including shifting unhelpful patterns of thinking, or overcoming emotional challenges. They provide therapy and counselling, but they cannot prescribe medication.

Psychologists are degree-qualified and trained to assess, diagnose, and treat mental illnesses. Clinical psychologists have a Masters or Doctorate and focus on the diagnosis and treatment of more complex mental health conditions. They both provide therapy and counselling, but they cannot prescribe medication.

Counsellors are generally diploma qualified, and are trained to help people with personal problems such as relationship issues, trauma, or grief. They provide counselling and support, but they cannot assess, diagnose, or treat mental illness and they cannot prescribe medication.

Peer workers are people who have lived experience with mental illness, and ideally are qualified with a Certificate IV Peer Work. They provide support and guidance to others who are going through similar experiences, including role modelling behaviour. They can also link you with higher level clinical supports if needed.

Support workers are qualified at minimum through a Certificate III in Support and provide emotional support to individuals experiencing mental health concerns.

Now, what about the Mental Health Care Plan that I have heard people talking about?

To obtain one, you'll start by visiting your GP. They will assess your mental health needs and, if necessary, refer you to the appropriate mental health professional. Your GP will work collaboratively with you to create a personalised Mental Health Care Plan. This plan typically includes a specific number of subsidised sessions with mental health professionals, and may involve psychologists, counsellors, or psychiatrists, (or maybe even a mix) depending on your individual needs.

As Mental Health Month unfolds, remember that seeking help is a commendable (and courageous) step toward a healthier, happier you. Mental health professionals are here to support you, and they recognise that your wellbeing is a priority.

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya discusses Mental Health Month and the One Foot Forward Challenge for the Black Dog Institute.

By IMPACT Community Services Managing Director Tanya O'Shea

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

As the calendar flips to October, a month of real significance unfolds – it's Mental Health Month, and here in Queensland, we kick it off with Queensland Mental Health Week from the 7th to the 15th. This year's Mental Health Week theme, 'Awareness, belonging, connection,' underscores the importance of fostering a sense of belonging and providing a space for conversations about mental wellbeing. It's an invitation to unite, learn, and support one another on our mental health journeys. My plan therefore during the month is to use this column to raise awareness and understanding about mental health and wellbeing within our community.

This week, I wanted to give a big shout out to our team at IMPACT Community Services, who are committed to making a real difference during this Mental Health Month. We've taken up the Black Dog Institute's One Foot Forward Campaign, a challenge that encourages us to walk with purpose. This campaign is a step toward understanding, empathy, and support for the one in five Australians who experience a mental illness every year.

The One Foot Forward Campaign invites participants to set their own goals, be it 40km, 60km, 100km, 150km, or any distance that feels right to them. This symbolic journey reflects the real-life struggles faced by those living with mental health issues. By taking part, we not only raise awareness but also crucial funds for mental health research and support services provided by the Black Dog Institute.

I believe that our collective efforts can make a real impact. To capture the essence of our mission, I've asked some of IMPACT’s dedicated team members to share their thoughts on being part of this challenge:

Zoe Hastie: “I signed myself and the organisation up for this event because I want to help create a better future for those living with mental illness, including myself. There are still so many unknowns in mental health and the more research that can be conducted now, the stronger and more informed future generations will be.”

Amanda Ryan: " I am taking part because I have experienced mental health issues personally and don’t want anyone ever to feel alone and lost like I did and so am giving back to help support others."

To support our team and contribute to the cause, please visit www.onefootforward.org.au/fundraisers/impactcommunityservices and sponsor us. Every step we take, every dollar we raise, brings us closer to creating a society where mental health is a priority, and no one walks alone.

Join us as we put One Foot Forward on this journey throughout October, a month dedicated to improving community awareness and understanding of mental health and wellbeing. Together, we can make a difference—one step at a time.

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya discusses mattering.

By IMPACT Community Services Managing Director Tanya O'Shea

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

We all want to matter — mattering is a fundamental human desire that can significantly influence our mental, emotional, and physical well-being. Mattering isn't just a personal pursuit; it's a community endeavour that can uplift individuals, schools, workplaces, and our community.

At its core, mattering is the feeling that we are a significant part of the world around us. It's the belief that we are noticed, important, and needed right now. When we make others feel this way, we not only improve their lives but also strengthen the bonds that hold our communities together.

Research has shown that experiencing mattering has a multitude of benefits. It boosts self-esteem, fostering confidence in one's worth. It even increases serotonin levels, often referred to as the "confidence molecule," which can positively influence our overall mood and reduce anxiety.

Moreover, mattering provides us with a sense of purpose, triggering the release of neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin – the "happiness trifecta." These chemicals not only control our mood but also motivate us to contribute to our communities.

So, how can we create experiences of mattering? Studies have identified three key components: attention, importance, and dependence. Attention means realising that others notice us and care about what's happening in our lives. Importance is feeling uniquely significant and valued, while dependence involves knowing that someone relies on us.

Individually, we can make a difference by ensuring that the people around us regularly feel noticed, important, and needed. In schools, it means emphasising to every student that their presence completes the classroom. In workplaces, it's about recognising that each person and their work are essential for the whole. In our communities, we must work towards rebuilding systems that affirm the dignity and value of every individual.

Mattering is not a one-size-fits-all concept; it's deeply personal. It's about fostering connections, offering kindness, and acknowledging the unique contributions of each person in our lives. It is about taking notice, being prepared to look outside our own internal world and recognising the value being created by someone else. It may seem insignificant at the time, yet the impact that we can have on others – it can be truly powerful. Creating households, neighbourhoods, communities, workplaces, schools, and even a nation where every single person felt like they mattered to someone else.

Simple, effective, lifechanging. Each of us playing a role in the change that we would like to see.

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya discusses Liptember and how 'the lipstick effect' drives the agenda on women's mental health.

By IMPACT Community Services Managing Director Tanya O'Shea

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

It’s amazing the power that something as simple as a bright shade of lipstick can hold. I recently read an article sharing the story behind Liptember, and the campaign to drive the agenda on women’s mental health.

The statistics speak for themselves. In 2022, the Liptember Foundation's research revealed that one in two Australian women struggled with mental illness last year, with one in four of those facing a severe form of mental illness. What’s more, only 49% of women will seek help because they don’t have the time or money to get help, or are too ashamed to admit they’re struggling.

These numbers are not just figures; they represent the lives and well-being of our mothers, sisters, friends, and colleagues.

Despite these staggering statistics, there's a silver lining. The power of a simple lipstick, or as economists put it, "The Lipstick Effect," can be harnessed for good. The Liptember Foundation has turned this concept into a ray of hope. By encouraging women to add a pop of colour to their lips during September, we're not only boosting our own spirits but also starting a conversation about mental health that needs to be had.

Until recently, mental health research and support services often lacked a gender-specific lens, even though women are 58% more likely than men to experience mental illness. We know women's mental health can be influenced by a multitude of factors – biological, psychological, social, and cultural. From menstruation to menopause, pregnancy to cancer, each life stage presents unique challenges. But it's not just biology; it's also societal and cultural pressures that affect women's mental well-being.

The Liptember Foundation, founded in 2010, has stepped in to fill this crucial gap. To date, they've raised over $14 million that has helped to deliver research, programs, and services tailored to the unique needs of women across Australia.

You can read more about Liptember at liptember.com.au.

Good mental health isn't merely the absence of illness; it's the ability to engage fully and effectively in society. By supporting Liptember, we're not just raising awareness; we're contributing to a brighter, more mentally healthy future for all women.

The Outback Mind Foundation, together with IMPACT Community Services, is hosting a free Mental Health Workshop.

About The Outback Mind Foundation

The Foundation exists to empower men throughout regional Australia to live healthier, happier, and more connected lives. With the climbing rates of mental health issues and male suicide, the Foundation works to proactively get ahead of the problem, providing men with the tools and solutions to find self-awareness and reach their full potential.

Learn more: The Outback Mind Foundation | Where Men's Mental Health Matters

The Workshop

Complimentary light snacks and refreshments available.

The workshop aims to provide:

Content Warning:

The mental health workshop and documentary will touch on sensitive topics and lived experiences of suicide. We acknowledge that this may be triggering for some individuals. There will be support and guidance available throughout the workshop from people with lived experiences to ensure a safe and supportive environment for everyone involved.

Registration Details:

Register now to secure your place. Please note: places are limited. In the event that we reach full capacity, you will be notified if an additional session will be scheduled.

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya discusses glimmers, and how they can help us to fill our emotional cup.

By IMPACT Community Services Managing Director Tanya O'Shea

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

It’s pleasing that in today’s society, we are starting to talk openly about our mental health. Prioritising the importance of our mental wellbeing and shining a light on the source of a person’s pain. With this comes a desire to better understand what might be sitting behind a person’s reaction or behaviour. When people are feeling overwhelmed, anxious or emotional, we usually become curious about what might have set them off, perhaps using words like trigger or trauma or even fear to make sense of what may be going on.

Looking for and expecting to be surrounded by triggers on a daily basis has become our modus operandi, and depending on the day and what is going on for us, we may be more or less affected. I was therefore delighted to learn recently that there is an opposite reaction to trigger, a concept that’s delightful and uplifting and personally, warms my heart. The alternative is glimmer, an internal or external cue that brings you have to a sense or joy or safety. Think a smile from a stranger, a beautiful sunset or seeing a picture of your pet.

Often, we are encouraged to be grateful, and each day I personally write down three things that I am grateful for. I have a diary that I keep these in, and I am up to 131 consecutive days; I’m finding that my gratitude bucket is overflowing! It’s a lovely practice and the power of it cannot be understated, however some days it’s more like a thing to cross off my to do list than a genuine reflection of gratitude and can therefore feel like a bit of a chore.

Glimmers, those fragments of joy scattered throughout our days, hold an extraordinary power – the power to fill our emotional cups. Like droplets of positivity, they accumulate, gradually enriching our lives with a sense of contentment and resilience. Just as a cup is filled sip by sip, these glimmers, whether in the form of a kind gesture, breathtaking view, or a heartwarming connection, gradually replenish our inner selves.

I was therefore heartened to learn about glimmer and have flipped my practice to instead note some of those precious moments of glimmer that I experience in my day, like:

Every day we each experience these tiny moments of glimmer. These tiny moments of warmth in our hearts, a small rush of joy through our veins. Please don’t let them pass you by, and instead pause, and suck in those moments. Take notice of them, notice the feeling that you experience, write them down so that you remember them, and come back to them when you need them. That moment is unique to you and has the power to change the way that you experience what is happening around you.  

What glimmer have you experienced today?

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya discusses deep listening.

By IMPACT Community Services Managing Director Tanya O'Shea

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

Dadirri, a word from the Ngan'gikurunggurr and Ngen'giwumirri languages of the Aboriginal people of the Daly River region. My initial introduction to this word was unexpected, shared with me after expressing a desire to be more consistent with my meditation practice. More than just doing it, meditation provides an opportunity to contemplate and create space for the deep listening that can occur from within. Deep listening involves more than words, instead tapping into the deeper meaning that includes unspoken needs and feelings.

Too often, we are using our head to guide our decisions and interpret the world around us. We are looking for answers from outside – seeking solutions, asking questions, hoping that someone else will step in, perhaps even step up and take responsibility. If that was the answer, people would be easily able to navigate through the complexities of life and most of the population would be experiencing a state of flourishing or mental wellbeing. Instead, research suggests that only 20% of the population experience states of flourishing at any one time (Keyes, 2005).

What if deep listening provided an alternative way?

Aboriginal writer and senior elder Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann describes deep listening as:

"Dadirri is inner, deep listening and quiet, still awareness. Dadirri recognises the deep spring that is inside us. We call on it and it calls to us. This is the gift that Australia is thirsting for. It’s something like what you call 'contemplation'.”

Shirleen Campbell, proud Warlpiri and Arrente woman and third generation resident of Alice Springs Town Camp, Lhenpe Artnwe (of Hoppy’s Camp) is a family and domestic violence activist who shares her own story of deep listening. ‘In Aboriginal culture, our country and its landscape are our classroom. We connect to country as we learn and grow as adults. Our country is always ready to teach our mob and look after us.’ Shirleen refers to a painting entitled Deep Listening, that shows two grandmothers, sitting around the campfire surrounded by young boys and girls using deep listening to learn about country. This year, NAPCAN is using this beautiful artwork to prompt deep listening with children and families and to begin conversations in communities about connection, culture and belonging.

I understand. Taking time out for introspection and understand the practice of deep listening may seem to be a luxury that few can afford at the minute. Taking time to put down the phone, and just be. Taking time to walk in nature, swim in the ocean, plant the soles of your feet on the earth. Lying on the grass, looking up at the stars, holding the hand of someone you love. And allowing yourself a moment to pause, and just listen. Notice what is coming up for you in that moment. Notice how you feel, without judgement. Nothing that you need to do, nothing that you need to hold onto, just a willingness to open yourself and your heart to whatever comes next.

Too often we rely on our head to make sense of things. Yet what I am slowly learning, is that our head is limited in its capacity to provide what we often need. Our head is simply a computer processor, often bringing up thoughts that are unhelpful or choices that do not always serve us. However, there is an alternative, and that involves connecting to our heart and our soul, which, not surprisingly, will boost the power to our brain. Building community by encouraging people to explore and learn from the ancient heritage of Aboriginal culture, knowledge and understanding.

Creating better decisions, kinder humans, greater consideration for ourselves, the people around us and the land that supports us. I don’t think we can afford not to do it.

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya discusses TOPIC

By IMPACT Community Services Managing Director Tanya O'Shea

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

It’s rare that I get rumbly or ruminate about stuff, however this year has left me waning. Feeling like the year should be closer to November than July (yep, it has been one of those years), I have somewhat surprised myself at the level of equanimity that I’ve managed to maintain through some challenging, and at times unnerving moments. Staying upright, composed, self-assured and all the time reminding myself that I’ve got this.

Interestingly, it’s often not those big moments – the chaos, disappointment, loss, trauma – that tip us over the edge. Those are the moments we often take in our stride, head held high, dignity and confidence in check. Instead, it’s those seemingly insignificant yet irritating moments that send us into a tailspin. Like last week, when my husband accidentally spilled some water from a saucepan onto the cooktop. Oh my, in that moment I completely lost my mind.

Like a cork being released from a champagne bottle, my emotions spilled over, and my poor husband stood there, mouth agape, while I reminded him that if he didn’t clean it up straight away it would bake onto the cooktop. Hands in the air and yelling at him “Don’t you understand, if you don’t remove it now you’ll never get it off!!!”

There was so much pent-up frustration, disappointment, anger, sadness and hurt that spilled over in that moment. None of it had anything to do with a bit of spilt water, or my husband. So often it’s the small stuff that ignites the switch, the stuff that breaks the proverbial camel’s back. These small, seemingly insignificant things have a way of sneaking up on us. Snowballing, layer upon layer, increasing in size and significance, slowly gathering momentum until suddenly… BOOM! Out of nowhere, the lid is lifted and whatever we’ve been stuffing down is released, like firing a ball from a cannon.

Life is full of tough stuff we need to navigate, and at the end of each day, we have a choice. We have an opportunity to pause, reflect and recover from whatever has been thrown our way during the day. The reality, however, is that we don’t always make this choice, and instead get consumed in routines and habits that don’t always support us.

Numbing ourselves from the day with alcohol, TV or other activities like online shopping that enable us to ‘take our minds off things’. Refusing to open up about our day, or in some cases, not having anyone to share it with. Reneging on social engagements with friends or family or ditching our usual exercise routine because ‘I have had a big day and really don’t feel like it.’

We must find ways to re-energise from our day, find things that support us to rest and recover so those small things stay just that – small and insignificant. Get an early night, do some breath work, meditation or journalling, maybe even end your shower with cold water (I promise this works, even if you only do it for 15 seconds you’ll see the benefits).

My recent outburst was a great reminder that some of my daily recovery practices may have slipped, or perhaps I have simply not realised the effect some of the events of this year have had on my mental wellbeing. I therefore encourage you to use this as a reminder to check in on how things are going for you.

Anything happened recently that resembled my ‘spilt water on the cooktop’ moment? Anything that in the big scheme of things, you look back on now and think was probably an overreaction?

If so, what’s one thing that you’ll start doing today that will better support you next time?  

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya discusses decision fatigue.

By IMPACT Community Services Managing Director Tanya O'Shea

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

Life is filled with countless choices. From the moment we wake up until we lay our heads on the pillow at night, we are confronted with decisions—some trivial, others life-altering. According to University of Leicester lecturer Eva Krockow, we make upwards of 35,000 decisions each day. It's no wonder that decision fatigue, that overwhelming feeling when faced with choices, can leave us feeling mentally drained and emotionally exhausted!

But how do you know if you're suffering from decision fatigue, and more importantly, what can you do about it?

Signs of decision fatigue are often subtle but pervasive. Feeling overwhelmed when faced with too many choices, avoiding decision-making tasks and an inability to think clearly or focus are telltale signs that decision fatigue has taken hold. Frequent procrastination, a sense of ‘stuckness’, overthinking, and physical symptoms such as fatigue, poor sleep, and headaches are also common indicators. If you find yourself acting impulsively or without thorough consideration, wasting time unnecessarily or if you're unsatisfied with the choices you ultimately make, decision fatigue may be at play.

So, what are two things in your day that you could automate so that you don’t have to make a decision about them? For me, the two things are always what to eat and what to wear.

Let’s start with food. Tip 1 is to work out what meals you wish to eat throughout the week and repeat. Once you set the menu up, prepare your grocery list and choose your preferred supermarket, the hard work is complete. My breakfast and lunch are prepared on a Sunday and can get me through the week, therefore I only need to prepare dinner. The mental load associated with deciding what to cook, mindless wandering in the supermarket aisles or trying to decide what to pick up for dinner - gone.

Personally, it leaves me feeling way less frazzled and able to turn up better when I arrive home to my family. When we get tired of the routine or are feeling less overwhelmed, we change it up. Until then, this simple act of planning ahead and repeating the same plan each week is guaranteed to not only bring a sense of structure and organisation, it will also free up valuable mental energy so that it can be redirected to more important things.

So, let’s move onto clothes. What to wear is such a mind numbing, yet complex task for the majority of us. So, tip 2 is all about how we can simplify this important, yet mundane task of dressing ourselves.

If you work or volunteer, perhaps choose a ‘work uniform’ if you don’t have a standard uniform. On weekends, keep things simple. I often find myself wearing the same things and here’s the thing - no one cares what I wear. We sometimes get sucked into this vortex of having too many choices – trying to mix this, or match with that. Very nice for a special event, however, for many of us, those special events are the exception rather than the rule.

My strategy is always to automate decisions wherever possible, and I therefore promise that these two simple, well-tested strategies will save you hours of planning and reduce potentially hundreds of unnecessary, energy draining decisions from your day.

Decision fatigue is a common challenge we all face from time to time, therefore decluttering our physical and mental spaces can work wonders. Taking control by streamlining and automating simple daily practices will not only reduce the number of decisions you make each day, it will also support you to ‘turn up’ in a more positive way, whilst developing a greater sense of peace of mind and clarity.

In a small room filled with laughter, the occasional tear, heartfelt discussions, and a shared understanding, gathers a group of men brought together by the bond of fatherhood. IMPACT Community Services' Dad's Group is providing a lifeline to fathers across the Bundaberg region. Every second Friday, the doors of IMPACT Community Services HQ open to offer a supportive environment for dads at every stage of their parenting journey.

Led by the compassionate and experienced Lenny Vaeagi, a Support Worker with IMPACT’s Family Mental Health Support team, the Dad's Group welcomes fathers from all walks of life - new dads, single fathers, partnered fathers, those facing challenging family situations, and those who have come out the other side of tough times. The group recognises the diverse experiences of fatherhood and aims to foster connections, build resilience, and provide a space for men to share their joys and struggles.

Lenny says, "We create a judgment-free zone where fathers can open up, share their experiences, and learn from one another. It's a unique opportunity to find solace, gain knowledge, and form meaningful connections."

Single father of four Aaron* has been an integral part of the Dad's Group since its inception. Aaron reflects on the significance of the group and the impact it has had on him and others, stating, "It's like building a picket fence. When you start, it seems like you're not making much progress, but bit by bit you get there. Everyone has feelings and doubts, but you can talk about anything. To have trust in the group is the whole point."

Aaron shares openly in the group’s sessions in the hope he will inspire other members to speak openly about their own situations. He believes in the importance of reciprocity, saying, "What you take in, you give back – it's okay to speak up if you need something. We're all there to share; it's all about give and take."

He said the group is leading the way in breaking multiple cycles and challenging beliefs around a wide range of issues, including gender roles and domestic violence, and helps fathers to instill values in their children.

"It's not just about getting help; it's about being a part of something," Aaron emphasises. "Isolation creates depression, so it's good to be involved. The main focus is being better for ourselves, which means being better for your kids and your family."

Through his participation in the Dad's Group, Aaron has not only found a network of friends who understand his challenges but has also gained confidence and a sense of acceptance. The group has become a lifeline for fathers seeking support, guidance, and a safe space to express their thoughts and emotions.

Aaron fondly recounts their shared experiences, saying, "We love getting together for fishing trips, playing pool, and enjoying meals as a group. It's about more than just support; it's about building friendships and enjoying life together. Isolation creates depression, so it’s good to be involved.”

He acknowledges that change can be difficult, but he encourages others to take the first step by attending the Group.

"Showing up is the first step towards making a change. It's about embracing the opportunity to connect with others who understand what you're going through."

Group Facilitator Lenny believes the Dad's Group stands as a testament to the power of community and shared experiences. He says that by providing a platform for fathers to come together, learn from one another, and grow as individuals, group makes a lasting impact on the lives of its members.

“As the Dad's Group continues to support one another, share their journeys, and engage in meaningful community initiatives, they embody the notion that fathers have the capacity to create a ripple effect of positivity, extending their impact far beyond their own lives,” he says.

And for Aaron, his journey with the Dad’s Group won’t be ending any time soon.

“It’s so good to be a part of a group that supports each other, we all want the best possible outcomes.”

To become a member of the IMPACT Dad's Group, individuals must be referred through other parenting programs offered by IMPACT Community Services. IMPACT offers a range of services covering mental health, training, employment, intensive family support, parenting and NDIS. For more information about our services please call us on 4153 4233.

*Name changed for privacy reasons.

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya discusses burnout, and the three Fs to look out for.

By IMPACT Community Services Managing Director Tanya O'Shea

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

Damian Hadwick, Mark McGowan, David Koche, and Jacinda Ardern have one thing in common: they all recently quit high-profile jobs because they had enough. While job resignations have become common during the pandemic and the "great resignation" trend, their cases go beyond the usual reasons. Something more sinister is leaving them feeling worn-out and unstable.

Jacinda Ardern summed it up perfectly when she said, "I am human. We give as much as we can for as long as we can and then it's time." This sentiment aligns with psychiatrist Gordon Parker's analogy of an elastic band. Just like an elastic band loses its elasticity when stretched repeatedly, humans lose their ability to bounce back when pushed beyond their limits. This can lead to burnout, where individuals feel completely depleted.

Recognising the symptoms of burnout and acting before losing the ability to bounce back is crucial. Personally, I’m always mindful of these three F’s: fear, friction, and fatigue, which can hinder my physical and mental wellbeing, and to address them before running out of fuel.

People are feeling more stressed and fearful than normal, with the media continually showering us with stories about the escalating cost of living, housing shortages, war in Russia, relations with China… it feels like we’re being bombarded with new and escalating challenges, many of which feel (and often are) outside our control.

Fear is an innate reaction within us all. It’s a mechanism to keep us safe, yet when we register a threat stimulus it triggers a response in the amygdala (part of the brain) that prepares us to fight, flee or freeze. The issue is that the mere perception of threat is enough for the amygdala to be activated. In the current environment, the perception of threat can be constant, creating layer upon layer, and resulting in a genuine sense of concern and overwhelm.

Friction is a force, a feeling that we can encounter when interacting with people, systems or things. These things can be outside of our power, and could be related to toxic workplaces, people or the feeling we get when something does not quite align to our values or beliefs. When the force pushing on us exceeds the energy we have, or are willing to push against, friction can leave us feeling stuck and powerless. Too much friction can be painful and destructive, both physically and emotionally.

And then there’s fatigue, which refers to our emotional and mental muscle when it’s overused or not exercised enough and so stops working at its best. Imagine pulling away from social events, friends, family, because isolation feels simpler. Shutting down from the outside world - physically, mentally, emotionally - because everything feels too hard, and you just crave some quiet. An escape from the relentless bombardment of life.

Many of us have experienced fear, friction, and fatigue at some point. The key is not to avoid these feelings but accept them as part of the human experience, knowing they will pass. The challenge lies in not allowing these feelings to consume us and prevent us from experiencing other positive emotions.

If fear, friction, and fatigue seem to be taking control, reflect on three important questions: Can I still recognise and accept things beyond my control? Can I distinguish between behaviours that help me and those that harm me? Am I still engaging in activities that energise and support my emotional and mental wellbeing? Answering "no" to any of these questions may indicate a need to make changes to ensure the three F's are not hindering your ability to live your best life.

envelopephonemap-marker icon-angle icon-bars icon-times
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram