HATS OFF: Rotary Club member Heidi Solymosi said she's looking forward to a fun night.
HATS OFF: Rotary Club member Heidi Solymosi said she's looking forward to a fun night. Melanie Keyte

Hat Day charity event for mental illness

CALOUNDRA Rotary Club is encouraging everyone to don their weirdest and most wonderful hats for a good cause next Friday, as part of their Hat Day dinner fundraiser for mental health.

The nationwide initiative aims to address stigma surrounding mental health issues as well as raising funds for research into mental illnesses, and coincides with Mental Health Week.

Organiser Peter Davis said it's an issue close to many people's hearts, as almost everyone in the community would have had some experience with mental health problems at some point in their lives, and one that was especially important to him.

"I don't mind saying I have a lived experience with biopolar disorder," he said.

"Obviously mental health is a huge thing that affects everyone, and there's too many suicides which aren't noticed.

"We're trying to get rid of the stigma by celebrating the day, I suppose you could say."

Mr Davis, who has been running support groups for people with bipolar, their families and their carers for almost five years, said social connectedness was key for people suffering mental illness.

"For people out there who do suffer mental health problems, it's common to feel quite isolated and like they don't have support," he said.

The pharmacist said the support groups helped people realise they're not alone, and allowed them to connect with others sharing the same experiences.

"We've had some very good friendships formed through the support groups," he said.

The Rotary Club's fundraiser aims to achieve this sense of community and support through a social setting.

The dinner will also include a fashion parade, and there will be a prize for the craziest hat in attendance.

Tickets are $50 per person, and Mr Davis said the club was hoping for 100 attendees to reach their goal of $5000 raised.

All funds will go to the Rotary Health organisation, which has contributed more than $33 million towards health research programs since its inception in 1981.

If you or anyone you know is experiencing difficulties with mental health, contact Lifeline on 131 114 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636.

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