ADVOCATE: Stuart Reid at the Black Dog Ball in Rockhampton earlier this month.
ADVOCATE: Stuart Reid at the Black Dog Ball in Rockhampton earlier this month.

‘Black marks’ lead to encouraging others to chat

WHEN Stuart Reid filled out a document to help test for post-traumatic stress disorder, he had a lot of history to recall.

Dotting the timeline from his childhood near Emerald to his recent ill health retirement are many black marks: nervous breakdowns in the family, a broken femur realigned without anaesthetic, a “violent and hideous” boarding school that was “absolute hell on earth”, depression after the removal of a large bowel, and a collapsed marriage.

Mr Reid worked in child protection and juvenile justice for 15 years in Emerald. Now he considers himself a mental health ambassador and has a particular interest in regional people.

“Services in rural areas are fragmented,” he said.

“People tend to be brought up with an ethos of survival of the fittest. They think it’s wrong to be in a crisis or to access help.

“Living on the land is getting harder. I want to be able to give back because I know about country dwellers — I am one.”

Having been diagnosed with three illnesses — bipolar disorder, chronic adjustment disorder, and PTSD — Mr Reid wants to highlight how people can best seek support. He said the most effective “early warning system” was a conversation.

“Communicating with people is a skill. It’s about community and people being supported.

It’s better to do something than nothing. If someone sounds down or not interested in things, talk to them.”

But Mr Reid also advocates for a more accessible and centralised list of services for regional areas, which would be beneficial for those who prefer to speak with someone outside their community.

“Accessing resources on the web is key to comprehensive mental health coverage.”

“What is becoming more and more apparent to me is that the services in relation to this issue are scattered, making it difficult for those seeking assistance to go to one site for information.”

He said the Queensland Health website was a good start.

If you or anyone you know needs support, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

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