On World Mental Health Day 10th October, Rotary Yarraville members were joined by Rotarians from Port Phillip, Altona, and Port Gellibrand to raise funds and awareness of mental health in the community.  The evening raised $450.00 for the Australian Rotary Health Foundation.  It was a remarkable evening beginning with a heartfelt toast to Rotary International delivered by district governor nominee, Peter Shepheard.  A number of inspirational speakers followed.
The first speaker was  State MP for Footscray Katie Hall who shed light on the State Government’s response to the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System. She spoke passionately about the new 52-bed mental health facility recently opened at the Sunshine Hospital, emphasizing the importance of providing additional support for people experiencing mental illness who require immediate treatment.
Following Katie's powerful words, Dr. Suresh Macardan, the District 9800 chair of the Australian Rotary Health Committee, presented the shocking statistics highlighting the urgency of suicide prevention and the ever-pressing need for funding and its continuous awareness in the field of mental health.
Dr Macardan was followed by  Mark Thomas, a seasoned police officer with over 27 years of experience.  Mark shared his personal story of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the journey of recognizing and overcoming it. The room fell silent as he recounted the pivotal moment in 2003 when, at a crime scene, he felt an unexplainable push against his chest. This moment marked the turning point in his life, making him realize the profound impact of the trauma he had experienced.  He is now an ambassador for Beyond Blue and founder of Code 9 Foundation which provides support for first responders with PTSD and other mental health conditions. 
Overall, it was an extremely educational night, which left us with many more questions about how we can, as Rotarians, foster resilience and use the power of Rotary to change the way mental health is dealt with here in Victoria and across the world.  The evening was not all seriousness: it was also entertaining through the funny hat competition and dinner contributions which raised $450.00 for Australian Rotary Health to continue its breakthrough research into Mental Health.
Author: Sandra McGuire - Rotary Yarraville