Mental health and perspective connect lifesavers in November

November provided double the chances for our lifesaving people, volunteer members, LSV staff, aquatic industry, sport and recreation and emergency services to connect.

With more than 80 people in attendance, a special Mental Health Breakfast held on 1 November, to coincide with the end of Mental Health Month and the kick-off for Movember, had the biggest Blue Connections turn out yet.

And on 27 November the phenomenal Australian Paralympian Ahmed Kelly shared his inspirational journey and insights into making the most of your opportunities.

Mental health on the menu

Mental ill-health is something that affects all of us. Every year, one in five Victorians will experience a mental illness and one in two of us will experience mental health illness in our lifetime.

In 2018, in Victoria almost 600 lives were lost to suicide, that’s more than double the number of lives lost on our roads. Suicide is now the leading cause of death for people between the ages of 15 and 44 in Australia.

LSV General Manager – People Emma Atkins says in an organisation where our volunteers, industry personnel and staff are often first responders in an emergency, it’s important to be proactive about mental health by breaking down stigma, connecting with people, and starting a conversation.

“One of the key concerns raised at our member forums, particularly by youth, is mental health, so we invited the engaging and authentic Lance Picioane from Love Me Love You to present a thought-provoking, meaningful and inspiring mental health strategy session,” said Ms Atkins.

“Lance engaged participants by starting a positive conversation about wellbeing, helping yourself and others, stigma and knowing the signs to look out for in yourself and others.

“In sharing his own experiences to educate and empower, his passion to help others is contagious.”

Ahmed Kelly’s journey to perspective

Before Ahmed Kelly became a two-time Paralympian, he was living in an orphanage in Baghdad, Iraq, with his brother Emmanuel. Both had been exposed to chemical weapons in utero and were born with severely underdeveloped limbs.

In 1998, Ahmed and Emmanuel met humanitarian worker Moira Kelly, who adopted the brothers and took them home with her to Australia to receive medical treatment.

Following surgery to remove his legs below the knees, Ahmed’s inspiring recovery soon led him to his first sporting love, Aussie Rules football, where he quickly earned the nickname ‘Nails’ because of his ‘tough as nails’ style of play. When he found Para-swimming, it became ‘Liquid Nails’, as he tackled the pool with that same intensity.

Ms Atkins says hearing Ahmed’s story first hand of his journey to compete in the Paralympic Games in 2012 and again in 2016, highlighted how focusing on the right perspective can make the impossible possible.

“One of the key takeaways from the session was that it is all about the 1 per cent,” she said.

“Hearing about his achievements in life and focus in preparation for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games really showed how being positive and courageous has enabled him to overcome challenges and make the most of his opportunities.”

Blue Connections has been created to bring together the aquatic industry, our volunteer members, staff, emergency services, sport and recreation sector and interested community members, to convene together once a month at LSV.

The interactive workshops provide opportunities to develop, learn, and network together while sharing experiences and common goals.

Each event features a different keynote speaker, with topics related to professional and personal development.

The final Blue Connections event is set to round out the year with some celebration, featuring the engaging Mark Conner on 18 December on the theme ‘Reflection and reset’.

To buy tickets, please visit the Blue Connections website.

Below: Lance Picioane from Love Me Love You presents about mental health strategy.

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