Over the last 18 months, the pandemic has had a significant impact on delivery of mental health and suicide prevention community events. These events would normally take place in person but have had to pivot to online delivery. Community events such as these play an important role in raising community awareness and challenging stigma around suicide and mental health. They also provide a way to create community connections, highlighting the strength and support there is for people within their own community and that they are not alone.
Our Art Bomb project engages local artists within the community who have experienced mental health challenges to raise awareness for suicide prevention.
By sharing their stories and art these local artist challenge our perception of mental health and the difficult but critically important subject of suicide, and of trauma and recovery.
This project provides an opportunity to support local artists whilst also providing a strong visual message to help build community connections and acknowledge that many people have struggled with their mental health during the pandemic. The project timing aligns with the easing of COVID restrictions, providing an opportunity to promote the theme of hope, recovery, connection and wellbeing. It is also an opportunity to share information on the range of clinical and nonclinical supports and resources available to people in their local community.
Learn more about our project here.
When Brimbank-based artist Manny Sison took part in the seventh exhibition of his work earlier this year, he posted on Instagram: “I love the odd numbers, because I am one!”
Now Manny’s art is set to be exhibited in a very different way – in public spaces in Brimbank as part of NWMPHN’s new “art bomb” project to raise awareness of suicide prevention activities.
The project aims to commission artists who have lived experience of mental health challenges to create works that draw attention to the reality of suicide and suicidal thinking.
Each set of artworks, known as an art bomb, will help bridge the gaps between the broader community and those who have confronted thoughts of suicide. The aim is to change perceptions around this difficult but critically important subject by exploring skilled and deeply personal explorations of trauma and recovery.
“The six pieces I will be making explore different ways in which loneliness, anxiety and bottling up emotions can impact one’s mental health,” says Manny.
Below are some of Manny’s artwork.
The pandemic kept everyone confined in their homes for months. However, instead of repressing her emotions, a Brimbank-based artist decided to show the world exactly what she felt every day – from her bathroom.
Edwina Combe’s ‘Bathroom Photo Booth’ is a collection of self-portraits all taken and developed in that space. The photos provide reflection into vulnerability – in a kind of unstructured diary.
“Concepts such as mental health and personal identity are in constant states of change, and it’s important to understand that it’s not so linear,” says Edwina.
Edwina’s art is part of NWMPHN’s new art bomb project, which raises awareness of suicide prevention activities by commissioning artists who have lived experience of mental health challenges.
“Rather than ignore the negative aspects of mental health, I want to acknowledge all of the happenings of the bathroom and grow from them as much as I can,” she says.
“It’s important to me because it’s part of my own healing process, and I’d like to tell this story for others who it may resonate with.”
Below is a snapshot of Edwina’s work.
For all artists, finding inspiration is at the heart of the creative process.
Melton visual artist Lisa Fitzpatrick finds hers by immersing herself in the sights and sounds of the wild.
“I find inspiration for paintings by going on daily nature walks,” she explains.
That process has paid huge dividends for her latest work, an acrylic painting on 120cm-square stretched canvas, called, appropriately enough, ‘Nature’s Beauty’.
Lisa, who does drawing and photography as well as painting, started doing art at a young age. She has exhibited her work several times, including in shows set up to mark Harmony Day and Children’s Week.
Her quest in life is to inspire others to find ways to express themselves through art. One of the ways she turns that desire into reality is through teaching art classes for children and adults through the City of Melton.
Lisa’s ‘Nature’s Beauty’ will go on display at the Melton Central Community Centre (239 Station Rd, Melton) on Tuesday 14 December 2021. It will remain there for several weeks.
Güler Altunbas is a visual & multimedia artist who exhibited in two solo exhibitions (2021) Chrysalis; Recognition and Restitution, Linden New Art Projects Space, Melbourne and Human First?, Studio Dax, The Dax Centre, University of Melbourne. She is committed to social justice and advocacy and is a representation of Melbourne’s diverse intersectionality. Güler has a history of complex trauma and mental health distress including family violence and cultural isolation which lead to her own experiences of suicidality since childhood.
Art has been a therapeutic tool for Güler which has, and continues to support her mental health recovery journey. Güler, also a practicing art teacher, uses her art to explore narratives of connection, vulnerability, and creative sensitivity.
“My philosophy is to embrace the ‘mind/body/spirit’ connection when creating artworks.”
The artwork titled ‘We too, find strength in being vulnerable’ explores the different ways in which we express sorrow, anxiety, anger, love, and joy through our tears. Through vulnerability and the release of our emotions, we are able to reflect on the past and unlock a path to a future where we better understand ourselves and our strength. It’s a puzzle to solve.
The intention is to reflect on our vulnerability. This gives permission for our mind to create space and a flow state, making connections and building on our sense of community. It invites matters of the heart and soul. Here we create a sense of wonderment, wisdom and courage.
Güler will be exhibiting her artwork at Sadie Black Café, 31 Perth Ave, Albion.
Find out more about Güler:
Why Art bomb in Melton and Brimbank?
The official City of Brimbank total population is 208,247 (2020).
Currently, Brimbank is the third most populous municipality in metropolitan Melbourne, and the second most populous in the Western Region of Melbourne (made up of the municipalities of Brimbank, Hobsons Bay, Maribyrnong, Melton, Moonee Valley and Wyndham). The inflow of migrants over many years has seen Brimbank develop into one of the most culturally diverse municipalities in Australia. Over half of its residents speak a language other than English, and there are over 160
languages spoken in Brimbank.
Brimbank is the second most socio-economically disadvantaged municipality in the Greater Melbourne area, and the third most disadvantaged in Victoria. The level of socio-economic disadvantage is also unevenly spread throughout the municipality.
Residents have reported significantly lower subjective wellbeing than Victoria (74.1 out of 100 cimpared to 77.2 for Victoria). 39.1% of women in the region were diagnosed with anxiety or depression compared to 16.4% of men.
Women across the life course are also more impacted by COVID-19 than men. During the first lockdown, 37 per cent of women aged 18-24 reported suicidal thoughts, compared to men. Also, older women are more likely than older men to live alone or in reside in residential care.
The official City of Melton total population is 180,636 (2020).
- The City of Melton grew at 4.6 per cent and was the second fastest growing municipality in Victoria
- Rockbank – Mount Cottrell area was Australia’s second fastest growing locality
- Population projections indicate that the City of Melton population will be more than 485,000 by 2051, making it larger than the size of Canberra today.
One in five City of Melton residents experience high or very high psychological distress. According to statistics, women are much more likely than men too experience such high levels of distress.
In the Melton-Bacchus Marsh area, there were 11.1 deaths by suicide per 100,000 population between 2014-2018. This was slightly higher than the death by suicide rate for the NWMPHN catchment area. Data shows that of those who died by suicide, a smaller proportion had been diagnosed with a mental health condition or were receiving professional support than the average in the urban fringe.
Suicide prevention and intervention
Free online suicide prevention training is available for everyone in our community. Learn how to see the signs and seek support.
Use the unique codes to sign up for suicide prevention training provided by Livingworks Start program and Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR).
Local services and online support
Find a list of local services for everyone on our My Mental Health page.
Services are also grouped for families, young people, men, LGBTIQ people, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, people from migrant and refugee backgrounds, those seeking asylum, and carers. All services provide confidential support and are legally obligated to protect your privacy and handle your information with care. Many are free or low-cost. Please contact the service directly to find out if it is suitable for you. Click the image below to visit My Mental Health.