Shire President Wade DeCampo

All too often we link the two ‘topics’ of drug use and mental healthwhen reallythey are separate issues which are sometimes correlated.

They are both certainly issues that we as the Council of the Shire of Manjimup realise that we need to addressbut we can’t do it on our own. In fact, no health organisation could do it on its own, nor could any family. We need to work on both mental health and drug useas a community.

‘Mental health’ is such a broad term and I think it has almost been forgotten that having good mental health is just the same as having a strong musculoskeletal system or a healthy respiratory system, and like any part of your body, when something is a little bit ‘off’, you feel it.

Mental illness is the sameand perhaps just as commonas any other illness and I firmly believe that we should have the facilities and medical capability to help our community members through any illness, regardless of the body part it is affecting.

Drug use is often an escape from a mental illness, yet in other cases, drug use triggers a mental illness.

Whether it was the chicken or the egg that came first is irrelevant; we all know that drugs are a problem in our community and we are certainly not alone.

What is different amongcommunities is the way the issue is dealt with. Whether we have friends or family with a drug problem, there is no use ignoring it because it won’t just go away. We all have a role to play in being ‘vigilant’ ofpeople who we know use drugs – support them but also make them accountable. Turning a blind eye simply enables their habit to get worse, whereas seeking out help for them (and help for you) could change their path completely.

As a Council we are always advocating for easier access to treatment for both mental health issues and drug use – be that more local appointments, rehabilitation facilities or safe houses. It is also a matter of educating ourselves to see the signs of mental health issues and drug use.

The Shire facilitates and supports education opportunities, such as a recent information seminar from Dr Mat Coleman and the upcoming Community Mental Health Forum that is being hosted by Rotary.

Take these opportunities to learn more when they arise. I think the best message is to usher these people towards better health, in general, and going to see your local GP is the best way to start with that.

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