'Speak up and reach out, don't do it on your own'
AS SOUTH Burnett residents stood Shoulder to Shoulder in grief and support after the spate of fatalities on the region's roads, Councillor Danita Potter spoke to the crowd about the importance of checking in on your mental health, especially during such tragic times.
Danita Potter is the South Burnett Regional Council representative for community, arts, tourism and health services.
She has also been involved in forming the South Burnett Suicide Prevention Group and is passionate about mental health.
"The community needs to know we are here for them, that there are support services here, and that it is okay and even encouraged to reach out for support and help in times like this," Cr Potter told the crowd at the event on Monday night.
"Your brain is important. Mental health is important, and suicide prevention is important.
"To take care of our body, we go to the doctor for a regular check-up. We need to start taking care of our mental health too."
In an ideal world, Cr Potter said everyone would feel comfortable seeking professional help for their mental wellbeing, without fear of being judged or shamed.
"I don't care what profession you're in or how you were raised - we all need to look after our mental health," Cr Potter said.
"We all need someone to talk to sometimes.
"What you need to do is speak up and reach out. Don't think you can do it on your own.
"A lot of people have thought that, and I've been to too many funerals for that very reason.
"Don't think you do it all on your own."
Cr Potter's message seemed to resonate with the crowd. After the event's formalities, many South Burnett residents made their way toward the stage for a chat and to browse the selection of mental health brochures available.
"We came together to celebrate who we are as a community," Cr Potter said.
"We stand here shoulder to shoulder with everyone. The first responders and their families. We've all been through a lot recently.
"The fact that we've lost so many beautiful souls to tragic road fatalities is probably one of the toughest things I've had to deal with since being on council.
"I would like to hope people are taking more notice of the road rules now, but I can't say that for certain because I still see people daily driving while on their mobile phones.
"People need to stop taking risks on the road, get off their phone. No phone call or text message or anything on that screen is more important than someone's life."
Cr Potter said she hoped first responders and community members left the event feeling supported and loved.
"I think we forget that SES are volunteers, that they have jobs outside of the first responder work they do," she said.
"They have to go home to their families and to their jobs after responding to an accident like these past few. I think they deserve more recognition and support.
"Even for the people they go home to who have to deal with the aftermath, it's important to understand that they are supported and it is OK for them to lean on that and ask for help."
Members of the Suicide Prevention Group, CTC, Uniting Care, and Rural Remote Mental Health were at the event and took time to chat with locals.