Take the first step.
It's a simple message but a difficult and courageous one for hundreds of thousands of people suffering throughout Australia including those throughout the Goondiwindi region.
For Goondiwindi clinical worker, Robert Pellareen, the challenge is to help all those suffering from a range of issues inluding drugs and alcohol to walk through his door or make that first phone call.
Robert, 34, runs a "Creating Options" program for Drug ARM Goondiwindi.
"We (Drug ARM) haven't had a face in Goondiwindi for some time but we are back to make a difference."
"I specialize in treating people who want help to address issues relating to their alcohol or other drug use," he said.
And the stats show how much the services provided by Robert are needed, no matter where you live.
The four most common drugs that lead clients to seek treatment are alcohol (34%), amphetamines (28%), cannabis (18%) and heroin (5.1%). The median age of clients is 35 years.
More than 45,000 Australians seek treatment for alcohol addiction each year.
Sixty-five perent are male. They are most commonly aged between 40 and 49.
Cries for help due to amphetamine use is catching up quickly. Two-thirds of those seeking treatment are men. The most common age group seeking treatment were between 20 to 39.
And that's the rub says Robert. Alcohol and drug use statistics are far higher. Twenty-five percent of all Australians drink at least once a month at a level health authorities call risky...All of the nearly 20million of us who are over 18.
The flow on effect socially, economically and mentally is "astronomical" says Robert. "You only have to take a look at how many patients show up at a hospital emergeny service on a weekend due to alcohol-related injuries to see the economic burden alone."
A pandemic hasn't helped.
"The past few years have caused unbridled anxiety especially in smaller communitues where it is harder to access mental health support," he said.
But Robert's job is not about statistics, it's about people.
It's why the former Goondiwindi State High School student went on to study psychology at the University of Southern Queensland in Toowoomba.
He completed his degree in 2013 and became a youth worker in Toowoomba until he took the opportunity to return home as a part of Drug ARM to "try and do some good" and be closer to family.
He appreciates there's a real "stigma to reaching out" for help.
For admitting there's a problem.
But the benefits....
It's one he understands.
"The main issue I see in Goondiwindi is the same as it is in most rural areas, that being the stigma around mental health is much slower to lift in smaller communities than it is in more metropolitan areas.
"Whilst I do understand the inherent reasoning for why this is, the thing that is personally heartbreaking about this issue is that it can and does hold people back from reaching out or asking for help.
"And just like so many people, I too have my own history with mental illness, which I have found provides me with additional insight that enriches the therapeutic relationship between my clients and I.
"I think it would almost be hypocritical of me to 'talk the talk' and preach the importance of reducing the stigma around mental health, without being able to 'walk the walk' by being open about my own experiences," he said.
"I struggled to ask for help. I understand. For someone to come in and sit and talk and feel truly understood and heard I think is magic."
He also urges communties not to let pre-conceived judgement take the place of the desire to help and "heal" those who are suffering from addiction.
"In the main, anyone who battles any kind of alcohol or drug problem are using to combat and soften something they don't know how to deal with and which they need help with."
"The only people who know the demons faced by those suffering from alcohol and drug addiction are those people themselves," he said.
How does Robbert help? "I provide weekly counselling sessions to address areas such as mental health/illness, relapse prevention, coping strategies, relationship skills, anger management, emotional regulation and life skill support, just to name a few. I provide an individually tailored, client-driven service that is unique to each individual's needs. The best part is that my service is completely free for those that qualify."
And most importantly, it's discreet.
"We make house calls, we can talk over the phone, our cars are unmarked. We care, so, I urge anyone who is stuck in a dark place and can't see a way out, just call me. My number is 0437 783 432."
We make house calls, we can talk over the phone, our cars are unmarked. We care, so, I urge anyone who is stuck in a dark place and can't see a way out, just call me- Clinial worker Robert Pellagreen
And help is available for families wanting to know how to "best support their loves ones".
Drug ARM's local family supprt facilitator is Tess Heming, phone 0437 468 368.
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