Dinner event success

COMMUNITY: Back, Paul Rogers, Tom Boyd, Ellen Zibell, Laura Fitzgerald, Leigh Fitzgerald and Dion Woolford. Front, Chelsea Woolford, Jordy McCallum, Erin Lister, Maxine Enright, Meagan Lienert, Helen Tucker. Photo: Kerri Cliff
COMMUNITY: Back, Paul Rogers, Tom Boyd, Ellen Zibell, Laura Fitzgerald, Leigh Fitzgerald and Dion Woolford. Front, Chelsea Woolford, Jordy McCallum, Erin Lister, Maxine Enright, Meagan Lienert, Helen Tucker. Photo: Kerri Cliff

A major crowd gathered at the Kimba hotel on the weekend to hear AFL premiership player Tom Boyd speak about mental health.

142 people attended the 'Breaking Through the Barriers' dinner, the first event for the Kimba Mental Health and Wellbeing Group for 2020.

Group member Meagan Lienert said the event drew a "real mix of age groups and demographics," with the presence of the former Western Bulldog helping to bring men in to the event.

Boyd, taken at pick one in the 2013 AFL national draft, retired from the AFL last year, citing struggles with mental health.

Mrs Lienert said Boyd's story showed how even when someone appears to have it all, they can still face the same mental health challenges as anyone.

"He had his dream, but found out quite quickly it wasn't like playing with your mates at home," she said.

She said the story he told the crowd was about making the big choices to improve your wellbeing.

"He empowered people that if something doesn't feel right, change it," she said.

Mrs Lienert said it was positive to see young members of the community at the event as well.

"It was just a great night, the response we've got back has just been phenomenal," she said.

Local Paul Rogers also spoke at the event about his own experiences and provided some information around mental health to the group.

The Kimba Mental Health and Wellbeing Group took the opportunity of the night to give an overview of upcoming mental health events and initiatives in the district.

Mrs Lienert spoke to the crowd about the town's work with the Fay Fuller Foundation which could see it awarded 10 years of mental health funding.

The crowd was also informed of two workshops coming up in February and March, and education sessions in mid February to be run by Kimba doctor Graham Fleming.

Mrs Lienert said the strong attendance at the dinner was an indication of the increasing willingness of the community to break down stigma around mental health.

"I believe the community are coming on board and discussing more than they used to," she said.

"From the feedback we've got, we've helped many people."

She said the fear of speaking up was still prevalent and it was important to keep having conversations among the community.