Two mates checking in inspire mental health campaign

22 Sep 2020

The Barwon Health Foundation has launched a new social media campaign to highlight the mental health issues many people are facing during the pandemic.

The Shaka Up for Mental Health campaign is encouraging people in our community to check-in with mates and help raise much-needed funds for vital mental health initiatives at Barwon Health.

On average, around 1300 men require treatment for mental illness yearly at Barwon Health and there is evidence that COVID-19 has increased the number of people seeking support.

The stress of financial burden, potential job loss, and feelings of isolation will potentially have a significant effect on the mental health of many people in our region, according to Barwon Health’s Mental Health Drugs and Alcohol Services clinical director Associate Professor Steve Moylan.

A/Prof Moylan believes checking in on friends and family can make a big difference to those experiencing depression.
“Letting someone know you are there for them and making sure they know you care about them is really important for people to feel connected to others. It’s easy to check on people in your lives and it can really help lessen any feelings of isolation,” he said.

“There has never been a more important time to check in with mates and see how they are managing during this time of uncertainty.”

Geelong graphic designer Paul Kelly and ex-Cats footballer Corey Enright are two mates who have regularly checked on each other over the past few months.

Mr Kelly said the symbolism of the shaka gesture used in their text conversations had inspired him to support the Barwon Health Foundation’s new campaign.

The shaka, a hand gesture in which the thumb and little finger are extended outwards from a closed fist, is used to express approval, solidarity and friendship.

“We often send each other messages to check-in and see how the other is doing, always replying with a shaka emoji to indicate that we are doing OK” he said.

“I’ve had my own personal experience with mental health issues and have many mates that have really been doing it tough recently.
“It may seem small, but making the small $5 donation and checking on your mate can make a big difference to our local mental health service all while making sure your mates are OK.”

From 4 September, the campaign will run with an opportunity to help raise much-needed funds for vital mental health initiatives at Barwon Health.

Taking part is simple:

STEP 1: Make a $5 shaka donation to the Barwon Health Foundation

STEP 2: Take a video of yourself sending a virtual ‘shaka’ to a mate to let them know you are thinking of them, tag your mate and #shakaupformenshealth

STEP 3: Buy some merchandise online to further support Barwon Health

STEP 4: and most importantly keep sending ‘shakas’ to your mates during this pandemic – reaching out has the potential to save a life.

The $5 donation symbolises the 1 in 5 Australians aged 16 to 85 who experience a mental illness each year.

"I feel really honoured to be a part of this campaign. We hope local schools and clubs will get involved and help spread the #shakaupformental health campaign.”

Donate to the #shakaupformentalhealth today here and send a video to a mate on social media. For more information check out the shaka website 

Proudly supported by KRock 95.5, Paul Kelly Creative, AFL Barwon, St Joseph’s College, Surfing Victoria and Geelong Advertiser.