WITH one in two people likely to suffer some form of mental health issue during their lifetime, it is crucial to engage the community when it comes to ways to help, according to NSW Mental Health Commissioner Catherine Lourey.
Ms Lourey was in Leeton on Wednesday as part of two community consultation sessions in town.
One had a specific focus with the shire's LGBTIQ+ community, while the other had a more broader scope to cover.
Both were open to residents of all ages and backgrounds, with Ms Lourey wanting to gain an insight into what mental health looks like in Leeton and where improvements can be made to help.
"For us, it was such a wonderful opportunity to come to (Leeton) and talk about inclusion and acceptance ... mental health issues are a lot about exclusion and loneliness and stigma," she said.
"I just really believe that in rural NSW, communities and the strength of communities comes out in many different ways.
"In Leeton when we heard about the work being done with the LGBTIQ+ community, we knew we had to come out here and meet everyone. We want to know what the challenges are and how we can help."
Ms Lourey has been touring communities across the state and will be using the feedback she gathers as a result of her sessions with residents to advise the NSW Minister for Mental Health on how to proceed next.
"We'll be talking to the minister about what the issues are and what needs to be focused on over the next five years when it comes to mental health reform," she said.
"Mental health is about people, so that's why it's important to talk to people in towns like Leeton to gain a better perspective about what the issues are."
Denise McGrath from the Leeton Rainbow Pride Collective agreed and said it was important residents from all kinds of backgrounds gave their input and helped to personalise what mental health means to them.
"I think it's important to think of families and significant others of those who are suffering from a mental health issue, it's a whole collective of people who need support," she said.
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