The head of the region's Lifeline centre hopes a new television series will help raise awareness and conversations about mental health.
Lifeline Central Victoria and Mallee is partnering with the ABC on an advance screening of Wakefield, a new drama centred around a psychiatric nurse and his challenges with his own mental health.
The series is billed as exploring "the fine line between sanity and madness", as protagonist Nik Katira (played by British actor Rudi Dharmalingam) grapples with deterioration in his mental state.
Wednesday evening's screening at Bendigo Cinemas will be followed by a question and answer session with Lifeline Central Victoria and Mallee and other service providers about the impacts of mental health.
"I think what the Wakefield series does is it really opens your eyes to what mental health is," Lisa Renato, Lifeline Central Victoria and Mallee's executive officer, said.
"Mental health ebbs and flows in people's lives depending on what's happening. The pandemic and the past 12 months is testament to that."
She said the COVID-19 pandemic had a direct effect on the number of calls coming through to the centre.
Lifeline Central Victorian and Mallee answered an average of 200 more calls a month in the 12 months from February.
The centre answered more than 9000 calls last year, with almost 60 volunteers on the phones.
People who didn't typically have mental health complaints had experienced challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, Ms Renato said.
She said people called Lifeline for a variety of reasons. A lot of people just needed someone to talk to; others needed safety or mental health plans.
Some of the 13 11 14 hotline's callers were at risk of taking their own lives and had imminent prevention needs.
Ms Renato hoped the Wakefield screening would provide attendees with an understanding of the challenges of mental health, of the services available locally, and of how they might be able to help others.
She also hoped viewers would become more aware of the ebbs and flows in their own mental health, and that the series would help normalise discussions about the challenges people faced.
"It tells people you are not alone, it's not just you, it's OK to feel this way," Ms Renato said.
One of the reasons Lifeline Central Victoria and Mallee was keen to be involved in the screening was because the organisation knew loneliness and isolation were challenges for a significant number of Australians.
"We need to be there for each other, and that's exactly what Lifeline does," Ms Renato said.
Bendigo's advance screening of Wakefield is by booking only.
Tickets for the free event are limited and can be booked by emailing email@example.com.
All eight episodes of Wakefield will be available to stream from Friday on ABC iView.
Episodes will air weekly on ABC TV from April 18 at 8.30pm.
If you or someone you know is in need of support, help is available. Contact:
If life is in danger, phone 000.