October 16 - 22, 2022: Issue 558


Mental Health Matters Awards Finalists Prove That Mental Health Matters

Beaches Resident Among 24 Mental Health Matters Awards Finalists

Beaches resident Kerry Gleeson is a finalist in this year's Mental Health Matters Awards, run by WayAhead-Mental Health Association of NSW, in the category of "leadership through lived experience". 

Improving the mental health of communities across NSW is the aim of every one of the 24 organisations and individuals named as finalists in the Mental Health Matters Awards.  

The awards, part of WayAhead - Mental Health Association of NSW’s Mental Health Month this October, aim to recognise the achievements of individuals and organisations who have worked to improve understanding, awareness, service provision and the general mental health of NSW communities. 

Kerry is a trained Lived Experience Advocate, Former National Lead, Lived Experience for WINGS of Hope (a Harm Prevention Charity) coordinating appropriate tailored grief support to family and community members after losing a loved one to suicide. Former team leader for The Way Back Service in the Northern Sydney Region – a Suicide Prevention and Recovery Service developed by Beyond Blue.

Kerry is a #YouCanTalk ambassador (beyondblue.org.au) and has participated using her lived experiences to provide information and guidance to a number of campaigns and educational videos; such as Better off with you Campaign, presenter for PROP ( People Reaching Out to People) for an educational training video for health professionals, INNOWELL digital health platform for mental health and suicide prevention for GP’S and Clinical psychologists.

Pittwater Online spoke to Kerry this week to congratulate her about being announced as a finalist and her work.

‘’I am so grateful to be nominated by my community for the finalist in leadership with lived experience for the Mental Health Matters Awards.’’ Kerry said

‘’I use my lived experiences to give those that are struggling guidance and the strength to a journey of hope and recovery. I have been working in this space for many years and am feeling very honoured for this nomination. My contribution in mental health is my passion and purpose!

‘’I advocate, support and lend a voice to those that have not yet found their voice and lost their way to guide and empower them to see hope; and to take little steps towards recovery. I share my personal lived experiences to let members in our community know that no matter how dark your day feels; there is hope, there is support, connection, and recovery is possible.

‘’I use my experiences to guide and inform community organisations and businesses to better understand suicide and mental health; contributing to papers, polices, research and protocols from a lived experience perspective. I also provide support for peers with lived experience and guide them through the journey of sharing their story. 

‘’I am part of an amazing committee (Sue, Mel, Aillen, Claire, Becky and Linda). We are voluntarily working tirelessly in the background to establish our Safe Space, with the support of Roses in the Ocean.

‘’MOWANA, will be a community-led Safe Space on our Northern Beaches; a non-clinical, suicide prevention peer led, open-door space that welcomes community members and their loved ones who are in emotional distress or experiencing suicidal thoughts. We have our amazing volunteers trained ready to go and are waiting for our space/venue. We are excited to announce that MOWANA is now a charity and incorporation. We also have deductible gift recipient status (DGR) and all funds received are tax deductible. Please visit our Gofundme link if you can help with funding: https://gofund.me/5a9db266 

On Monday 17th October at 6.30pm MOWANA Safe Space Northern Beaches are hosting a Big Blue Table gathering for Beyond Blue. The idea is to eat together, connect and have meaningful conversations and raise funds to help those facing anxiety, depression, or suicide. It’s a cause we really care about and would love our Northern Beaches community’s support. 

Check out our fundraising page here for Beyond Blue and let us know if you can make it. Our committee members for our MOWANA safe space will be there to connect, guide and have meaningful conversations. You can even wear blue! 

Please visit our Facebook page for event details 

MOWANA's First Public Community Gathering - Big Blue Table :)  
When and where: Monday 17th October at 6.30pm at Mona Vale Parkhouse – all welcome 

Any queries please email the team at MOWANAsafespace@outlook.com

The link to donate for a very good cause https://bigbluetable.com.au//kerry-gleeson

''Thanks again to our community for all your support; I won’t let you down!’’ Kerry said.


The Mowana Committee                                                                                                    Kerry Gleeson

Kerry is one of several great people and organisations named as finalists in the 2022 Mental Health Matters Awards.

The award categories include: workplace wellbeing, community initiative, youth, rainbow inclusion, Aboriginal social and emotional wellbeing, media and the arts, mental health promotion and leadership through lived experience. There are three finalists in each category.  

WayAhead Mental Health Promotion Manager, Asha Zappa, said the diversity of entries reflected the way mental health impacts every sector of the community.  

“The extraordinary work being done by all the finalists also makes a statement about the vital importance of mental healthcare, as we strive to create a world that supports mental and emotional wellbeing for everyone,” they said. 

The finalists in each category are:  

Leadership through lived experience  

Kerry Gleeson - passionate trauma informed voluntary advocate for survivors of sexual assault, family domestic violence, mental health and suicide prevention. Voluntarily promoting advocacy and support in her community. Empowering individuals and their families to a journey of recovery, support, and connection.    

Andrea Arndt-Jackman - Andrea has worked for Neami National for over five years during which time she has held many different lived experience roles across many community mental health programs, where she promoted Lived Experience work to a wide range of sectors.  

Julie Hering -  Julie developed an excellent psychosocial holistic program for PTSD sufferers, Willow Tree Support Services, facilitating a monthly gathering, and orchestrates the reconnecting back to nature.  

Workplace wellbeing  

The Womens Workforce - The Big Issue - empowering women who are disadvantaged, marginalised or homeless to improve their life circumstances through the provision of a real job, real income, development of skills, confidence and opportunities for social connection. 

Cow are You Going - Rural Adversity Mental Health Program - a range of initiatives that promote a positive workplace and increased mental health outcomes providing state-wide mental health support to women in the dairy industry.  

Project Wellbeing - Arthritis NSW - an initiative that targets staff wellbeing, psychological safety and engagement leading to better delivery of their mission to help people with arthritis.  

Community initiative

Supporting Refugees and Migrants through Life Mentoring Skills - aims to reduce the social isolation of recently arrived, Arabic speaking refugee men, focusing on proactive prevention, by providing free, long-term, one-to-one life mentoring with a professionally trained volunteer mentor for those experiencing distress or isolation.  

Mongolian Mother and Children Group St George - aiming to support the health and social wellbeing of the Mongolian community, endorsing the Mongolian language and culture. 

Mum for Mum - peer run, volunteer program aiming to reduce isolation and relieve anxiety and depression by creating a culturally safe, non-judgemental, and caring space in which parents delight in their babies and establish a secure attachment.  


Minus 18 Youth Events - a place where LGBTQIA+ youth belong, fostering social connection via life-affirming events, and education opportunities through inclusive events, workshops and resources. 

b kinder initiative - evidence-based well-being program builds empathy, compassion, resilience and confidence and is helping to reduce mental health issues, bullying and suicide in school age children, Inspiring children to make a difference through kindness. 

2021 Need a Lift? Youth Photography Competition - Northern Sydney Youth Mental Health Service - a competition is to hear from young people on what "uplifts their mood" and to promote healthy mental health strategies through the use of photography. 

Rainbow inclusion 

QI Project: Gender Affirmative Practice - Campbelltown Hospital  - the Gna Ka Lun, Child and Adolescent Inpatient Unit is the pilot site for this QI project aiming to create ‘The Gender Sphere’, an LGBTQ+ supportive, inclusive and resourceful atmosphere for diverse consumers accessing their services. 

Muslim Peers Project - free, accessible and supportive mental health support, crisis support and advocacy to queer or questioning Muslims. 

Rainbow Shoelace Project - a project benefitting the mental health of the LGBTQ+ community by making them feel supported and trying to deal with homophobia by wearing rainbow shoelaces.    

Aboriginal social and emotional wellbeing 

Young Aboriginal Mothers Program - Gunawirra House, Rozelle - an early intervention service supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander wiyanga (mothers) and their mudjin (families), particularly their jarjums (young babies), delivered by Aboriginal elders. 

Initiating Contact Within the Community - Coonamble Aboriginal Health Service member Stephen Smith supports many people in the community across a broad range of issues ranging from financial crisis to drug addiction, and offers any form of support he can. 

Baabayn Wellbeing Initiative - open-door, unconditional respectful approach involves a weekly healing circle with community members, community excursions, experience sharing forums, youth programs especially for teenage girls, young mums, education, and wellbeing measures around the harms of drug usage.  

Media and the arts  

Tiny Universe - a co-production between Milk Crate Theatre and Shopfront Arts Co-op, exploring the delineation between inner and outer worlds. 

Love Me Love Love my Anxiety - The Swiping Game - an episode from the documentary series, with a particular focus on cultural diversity and taboos around discussing mental health, with an underlying message of hope. 

Mad Pride - Weave Youth Advocate Program - a means of connection, advocacy, creativity and self-expression through exploring conversations and experiences of mental health for Weave’s annual free, youth-led, Mental Health Month event, Mad Pride.   

Mental health promotion  

How’s Ya Mate? - Lifeline Broken Hill Country to Coast - aims to improve the mental health and wellbeing of sporting club communities by providing training and counselling, starting conversations and breaking down stigmas around mental health in the Broken Hill region.  

CALD Mental Health Literacy and Suicide Prevention Program - a two-part program working with CALD communities across the Western Sydney that aims to increase mental health literacy, identify community mental health issues and reduce suicidal ideation. 

Perinatal Mental Health Week - Gidget Foundation, Peach Tree Perinatal Wellness and Perinatal Wellbeing Centre - collaborates with 42 organisations to raise awareness and collaborate to ensure that parents in need know that they are not alone.  

The theme for Mental Health Month is “tune in”.

Throughout October, Way Ahead is promoting its range of mental health programs and resources to help you tune in and find the support you need.  

“We encourage everyone to tune in to their own mental health, which means being present, aware of what’s happening within you, and in the world around you,” Ms Zappa said.    

The Mental Health Matters Award winners will be announced at a function on Friday, 28 October in Bicentennial Park. 

About Way Ahead  

WayAhead, the NSW Mental Health Association of NSW, works to educate people about mental health and wellbeing and link them to services and resources. It works towards a society free from prejudice and discrimination against people living with mental illness. 

In 2022, WayAhead is celebrating 90 years of providing mental health services in NSW. 


If this report has raised any issues for you, or you need someone to talk to, please call:

  • Lifeline on 13 11 14
  • Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800
  • MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978
  • Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467
  • Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36
  • Headspace on 1800 650 890
  • QLife on 1800 184 527