For mental health workers fundraising is just a stroll in the park

STEPPING OUT: Shelley Tait, Peter Warren, Elizabeth Connaughton and Nick Burns are taking part in a five kilometre fundraising walk on Saturday. Photo: JUDE KEOGH

STEPPING OUT: Shelley Tait, Peter Warren, Elizabeth Connaughton and Nick Burns are taking part in a five kilometre fundraising walk on Saturday. Photo: JUDE KEOGH

A group of mental health workers from Orange will join in the Orange Park Run on Saturday in an effort to raise money for mental health services in Nepal.

The 15 participants are members of the Australia-Nepal Mental Health Network and mostly work at the Bloomfield mental health campus in a variety of roles.

The participants will walk in a unified group during the Orange Park Run at Gosling Creek at 8am on Saturday.

Australia-Nepal Mental Health Network clinical director Dr Nick Burns said the group formed in 2012 and money raised as a result of the walk would go towards various projects it is undertaking in Nepal. 

“Most of our members are in Orange but we have some in Sydney and some in other countries as well,” Dr Burns said.

“We work with local partners in Nepal to improve mental health care delivery.

“This year we are helping to fund the first ever national mental health conference in Nepal and we are sponsoring the first ever psychiatrist to train in child and adolescent psychiatry.”

Although the not-for-profit group started in 2012, Dr Burns said members made their first trip to Nepal in 2014 and in November members will make their fourth visit.

He said each person who goes to Nepal pays for their their flights, transport and accommodation so all money raised goes towards improving mental health services.

“This is when we do the work mainly,” Dr Burns said.

“We were inspired by a colleague who went over [to Nepal].

“She went over there and she visted a couple of mental health services there and she saw the resources they have there.”

Compared to the resources available in Australia he said those in Nepal were very limited however, the people were enthusiastic about learning more and providing more services. 

They also found individuals did not want to admit to having mental health issues due to social stigma and often they were covered up or families would take people facing mental health issues to a spiritual healer.

Dr Burns said there are not-for-profit groups and non-government organisations working in and around Kathmandu so the Orange based group works in a village.

For more information or to donate or sponsor the walkers visit www.nepalmentalhealth.org.au.

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