Published On: 11 October 2023Categories: Stories

Loaves and Fishes Tasmania and Devonport Chaplaincy is following a recipe of food and friendship to improve the mental health of Tasmanians.

And the formula applies as much to those within the organisations as it does to the Tasmanians they serve. Mental Health Week 2023 is being celebrated in Tasmania from October 7-15.

Two years ago, Loaves and Fishes Tasmania general manager, Aaron Kropf, shared some of his mental health journey. He told how accompanying a friend who worked with SecondBite on his food delivery runs was a turning point in recovering his own mental health.

Loaves and Fishes intentionally employs Tasmanians, many of them under 25, who struggle with their mental health. The organisation has created a supportive environment, including providing chaplains and workplace mentors. The organisation websites are full of inspiring stories of those who have benefitted from the workplace culture.

CEO of both organisations, Andrew Hillier, said a meal, a smile, a kind word, a regular mentoring relationship, together with formal mental health first aid training, are making life better for Tasmanians struggling with life.

“The combination of meeting someone’s physical, emotional and social needs has a profound impact on mental health,” Andrew said.

“Life’s hard for everyone, but the combination of COVID, followed by the cost-of-living crisis can prove to be too much for people who were just getting by.

“That’s why Devonport Chaplincy’s mission is to ‘Making life better, one relationship at a time’, and Loaves and Fishes’ is ‘Delivering food and hope’.”

The World Health Organization agrees. It says exposure to unfavourable social, economic, geopolitical and environmental circumstances including poverty, violence and inequality have a strong influence on mental health.

Break out the orange

Tasmanians are encouraged to wear orange and eat someone orange on World Mental Health Day on Tuesday, October 10.

World Mental Health Day is part of Tasmania’s Mental Health Week.

Organised by the Mental Health Council of Tasmania, Mental Health Week is a time to promote mental health and wellbeing and also increase understanding and reduce stigma about mental illness.

You can assess your own mental health and get help by taking this survey.

The World Health Organization defines mental health as “a state of mental wellbeing in which an individual realises his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.”

Contact Devonport Chaplaincy on 6417 3175 to find out more about our mental health first aid training, or Loaves and Fishes Tasmania 6417 3131 to find food support near you.

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