Local initiative raises awareness of mental health services

THERE are lots of services available to help with mental illness, it is just a matter of knowing what and where they are. 

HALT - Hope, Assistance, Local Tradies - volunteers packed 250 bags at Hume & Iser on Monday, filling them with information about mental health services. 

HALT founder Jeremy Forbes said the information was from local and national mental health organisations including Lifeline and Bendigo Community Health. 

He said the idea behind the bags was to raise awareness of the organisations and to let tradies know the services are there to help. 

"(We are trying to spread the message that) these organisations are there and accessible for the tradies," he said. 

"(The tradies) need to know they are there or where to access them, whether its Lifeline, beyondblue or locally whether it's their GP.

"They need to know the steps to take." 

HALT was started about six months ago in response to the impact of recent suicides in the region. 

The initiative is designed to raise awareness of anxiety, depression and well-being in the tradie community.

Mr Forbes said he had been a tradie for 20 years and understood the emotional, mental and financial high and lows workers in the industry experienced. 

He said one of the great things about the group was it was a local initiative. 

Hume & Iser senior sales and marketing manager Paul Woolley said HALT was a terrific concept. 

"When I found out what Jeremy was doing I thought it was a great idea," he said. 

"No doubt (mental illness) is an important issue.

"Being a tradie is very stressful and mental illness needs to be recognised.

"We had the facilities (to help) and we have a big association with tradies." 

Mr Forbes said he was overwhelmed with the support from local businesses who had donated the bag items. 

He said tradies should keep the information in a handy spot for example in their toolbox. 

"What we'd love is for them to just have (the information) there," he said. 

"Not that they have to use it straightaway but just have the information there just in case they need it or their mates need it."

HALT will be giving out the bags at Hume & Iser on Tuesday from 7am to 8.30am.

There will also be a brekkie for tradies at the store on Tuesday with Mr Forbes confident the Save Your Bacon breakfast would be a success. 

Food parcels will also be distributed with the bags. 

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