‘Healthy body, healthy mind’ was the theme of this year’s Mental Health Day, and the crew of HMAS Ballarat (CMDR Matthew Doornbos) took this theme seriously on 15 October 2013. Undertaking a punishing series of physical sessions combined with some respite from the daily routine, the ship’s company took some time out to reflect on how each person can look after themselves while on deployment.
This was achieved by granting a day out of routine to all of ship’s company beginning with a late start, with most crew members getting an extra 45 minutes of sleep. Crew members were then encouraged to wear bright colours throughout the day.
Chaplain Rendall ‘Max’ Walker addressed the crew through presentations over morning and afternoon tea, promoting methods of coping with stressful periods and providing strategies for personnel to maintain their mental health and general wellbeing.
Throughout the day the ship’s company also took part in the Mental Health Olympics orchestrated by ABCSO Ryan Green. Consisting of a series of punishing exercises, teams and individuals were pitted against the clock to see who could complete the most circuits. A great deal of fun was had by all and although there were some individual winners most agreed it was a very effective distraction from the normal routines at sea.
The pace of the day then slowed down with the Ballarat golf driving range opening for business. The longest drive was taken out by SBLT Troy Boswell with a 230m monster, although there was a fair bit of debate about how this was calculated. The crew then enjoyed some trivia from the ship’s very own quiz master and amateur thespian LEUT Richard Farrelly before settling in to a silver screen movie.
CMDR Matthew Doornbos Commanding Officer of Ballarat said:
“Although most of the day was light hearted it allowed us to reinforce to the crew the importance of employing strategies such as physical fitness and humour for maintaining their mental health. As part of a sea going ship we spend a lot of time away from home at sea, often undertaking stressful and at times quite confronting activities. The importance of us as a crew and as individuals proactively managing our mental health cannot be underestimated.”
HMAS Ballarat is currently on a four month South East Asian and Operation RESOLUTE deployment.