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Tandi Kuwana

Tandi Kuwana feels the 2020 Mental Health Week theme ‘Strengthening our community—Live, learn, work, play’, has come at the right time.

“The best thing we can do to strengthen mental health in our communities is to learn to be able to talk about it,” says Tandi.

“My work is to get people to talk about mental health, rather than treat it as a taboo or shameful subject.”

Tandi, who is the founder of Mental Wellness Keys, is passionate about mental wellness and social justice, and has publicly shared her own mental health journey to encourage and inspire others.

“I realise that letting others know what I went through with depression can have a powerful effect for them, especially because I work in mental health.

“This is particularly the case for people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD) communities as there can be finger-pointing when someone admits to having problems.

“But I know that healing conversations do start as a result of sharing.

“Mental health problems are widespread in CaLD communities, and it’s so important that people suffering in silence don’t feel they are on their own.”

Tandi feels that the media can play a pivotal role in promoting mental health and showing that mental illness is prevalent in all communities.

She also believes that the media should actively promote what mental health actually is.

“We need to do something similar to the physical health recommendations of five veggies a day and to do physical exercise. We need to talk about simple things that we should do every day that promote our mental health.

Tandi suggests her three-a-day:

  1. Play! Whatever age you are, let your guard down. Find what makes you feel good—like dancing, cooking, or the things that made you happy when you were young—or look for new things that make you happy. Tap into that feeling and make it a priority to create the time to have fun.
  2. Gratitude, daily! Look for three things that you are grateful for every day.

    “For example, when my daughter comes into my bedroom to say good morning, with a smile—it’s a beautiful feeling. Or I’m grateful for the fact that I still have a job in these difficult times.

    “Or, if it’s a bad day, I consciously remember three good things that happened that day. There are always so many things to be grateful for, even when things are not going well.”

  3. Not for every day, but for every day that this is needed: feel comfortable about telling others at work or in the community to get help when they need it. Talk to friends but understand they may not have enough resources to help themselves. We hardly ever have conversations and we’re under-utilising the many resources available in Australia, especially for CaLD communities.

“We need to encourage people to share their stories. It’s OK to feel vulnerable—by telling their stories these people are the unsung heroes.

“By being honest, they inspire and help others, no matter how shameful they may think their stories are.”

Mental Health Week runs from Saturday 10 until Saturday 17 October. More information is available at the WA Mental Health Week 2020 website at https://mentalhealthweek.org.au/ .

Page reviewed 25 September 2020