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EVERYONE HAS A STORY TO TELL

As part of the Hunter Manufacturers Mental Health Initiative, Tomago Aluminium partnered with other businesses in the Hunter manufacturing network during October’s Mental Health Month, which this year focused on the ‘Everyone Has A Story’ project and the experiences that have impacted our lives.

Those experiences have left their mark and given us stories to tell. By sharing them and talking about our experiences we can start breaking down the barriers surrounding mental illness.

Many of us choose to keep our stories hidden because we feel uncomfortable telling them. Because of that, none of us really knows what others have going on in their lives or what they have been through on their individual journeys.

Every year around 20 per cent of Australians experience some kind of mental illness. Sadly, 70 per cent of those – roughly 3.5 million people –do not get professional help.

By asking our employees to share their stories we hoped to be able to give people the courage and confidence to discuss those things that have affected them in their lives and is a positive way of normalising peoples’ situations.

By listening to their stories we are letting our friends and workmates know they are not alone and that we can help.

During Mental Health Month Tomago employees were invited to tell their stories and have it recorded. Seven took the opportunity to participate with Tim Smith, Andrew Thurlow, Phil Carpenter, Brad Hickey, Keiran Turner, Daniel Bolch and Heath Buman agreeing to be filmed.

Each one spoke of the particular situation that had affected their lives, how they worked through it and gave advice for anyone experiencing similar issues.

They also helped make a brief video for the Hunter Manufacturing Network, the film created using stories from all the businesses involved. Check it out at https://youtu.be/aatZgxDBNlo

Each week throughout October, we released a new video of one of our employees opening up about their own mental health journey. These videos were made accessible to all employees and shown across the site with supervisors and their teams watching it during toolbox talks.

“We were really appreciative of how honest everyone was. Everyone who took part just wanted to have the opportunity to help someone who might be watching. It was really heart-warming,” said Tomago’s Communications Advisor Katie Burns, who recorded each conversation for the video.

Tomago’s People, Safety and Environment Manager, Simon Mitchell, said that in line with the company’s mental health strategies a group is currently undergoing anti-bullying training with the Workplace Health and Safety Committee.

“It’s practical training for mental health in general as well as offering self-help strategies.

“It helps people change their own thinking, the way they see the story in their minds,” Simon said.

Since the onset of COVID-19, the rate of mental illness across Australia has climbed steadily, driven by anxiety, uncertainty and depression so taking the time to really listen to someone could be one of the most helpful things any of us can do.

Pictured above L-R: Keiran Turner, Heath Buman, Andrew Thurlow, Phil Carpenter and Tim Smith.

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