HMAS Sirius hosted a representative from Beyond Blue and the mental health staff from HMAS Stirling onboard in April, to donate a fundraising cheque for $2000 dollars, share a BBQ and have a general meet and greet.
The event was heralded as an opportunity to promote and raise awareness of mental health issues in the context of the modern Navy. It was also a great opportunity for the Stirling mental health team to network directly with senior Beyond Blue management and has subsequently resulted in further dialog about future visits.
Beyond Blue is Sirius’ chosen charity, which is supported by fundraising efforts by the crew and contributions from the Ship’s Welfare Fund. The ship’s company recognises that Beyond Blue is an important organisation, with most Australians having some experience with depression and anxiety, whether it be personal or via family, friends, or work colleagues. This is particularly relevant in the Navy context, because the stressors of being away from home, where instability combined with the demands of operations can affect the work performance and mental health of sailors and their families.
While members of the Australian Defence Force have mental health services, their families and loved ones do not necessarily have access to those services. Beyond Blue is an organisation that can be accessed by families to provide support whenever it is needed.
Sandra Hartman, the senior psychologist for the Royal Australian Navy in Western Australia, said the opportunity to meet with Beyond Blue staff was very beneficial.
“The psychologists and administration support staff from Navy Psychology West were honoured to attend the recent cheque presentation to the Beyond Blue organisation, and to assist their valuable work in creating greater community awareness of the issue of depression,” she said.
“The work they do is of inestimable benefit. We valued the opportunity to meet with the representatives from Beyond Blue, as this means we are all a bit more aware of each others work in the mental health area. We also greatly enjoyed the chance to meet crew members from Sirius, and to do a tour of the ship after the awesome lunch,” Ms Hartman said.
The crew had raised the total of $2000 dollars through lazy shavers and pretty nails programs and other fundraising initiatives. It was a significant effort for such a small crew.
General Manager of Beyond Blue, Susan Anderson, and the Mental Health team were joined by the ship’s company on the flight deck for the cheque presentation. Afterwards, the guests were given a guided tour of the ship by Leading Seaman Maritime Logistics Steward Daniel Taylor.
Susan Anderson said she was grateful for the experience and the opportunity to see first hand the living conditions of the sailors. She said it had helped her to better understand some of the rigours of life at sea for the average sailor.
Sirius has pledged to continue to support Beyond Blue and raise awareness for mental health issues and support networks.