Lived experience stories to form new adverse events support resource

Posted 28th September 2022 in Sector news

My Drought Story, an initiative of the NSW Health Rural Adversity Mental Health Program (RAMHP), supported by the Drought Resilience Leaders Development Program. It brings together the stories of those with lived experience of drought and adverse events, with the aim of creating a resource for those who might need support and coping strategies.

Australians in rural and regional NSW who lived through the 2017-19 drought were invited earlier this year to share their stories as part of the project. These real stories will be used to form a new book that highlights resilience in the face of adversity and shares practical methods for coping with disasters in regional areas.

Rural Adversity Mental Health Program coordinator, Ms Kate Arndell, said some individuals who contributed to the project might benefit on reflecting about their own time during the drought as a means of post-disaster recovery, in turn providing hope to others experiencing the same challenges.

“The 2017-2019 drought was a devastating trial of hardship for so many Australians, followed by bushfires, COVID-19, mouse plagues and floods. Many of us didn’t get the opportunity to properly reflect on the effect the drought had on us before we were on to the next adverse event," said Ms Arndell. 1

When thinking of building resilience, Ms Arndell states “reflection can be a powerful tool in processing a difficult experience. Looking at photos from the most recent drought or thinking back to that time can give people a chance to consider how they coped and what strategies they used to get through each day.” 1

The images submitted of Australian landscapes during and after drought as part of the My Drought Story were a reflection on the ability of the land to adapt and change, giving others a sense that periods of adversity also change.

“Having a visual reference to how truly different our landscape and lives were during drought, versus how they rebounded once relief came is a truly powerful message about resilience in times of overwhelming adversity,” said Ms Arndell. 1

Some of the coping strategies submitted by those with lived experience include keeping connection with mates and the community, finding joy in the small things and trying to focus on the things we can control instead of the things we can’t.

The project recognises that reflection on difficult times may be a trigger for people, and have encouraged those participating to be conscious of their reaction to revisiting this time of their lives and to reach out for support if needed.

The My Drought Story book will be available in local libraries and council buildings in NSW.

The NSW Health Rural Adversity Mental Health Program (RAMHP) works with communities and individuals to educate, encourage and link people to mental health support. If you or someone you know is struggling, please contact support services, or visit NSW Health Rural Adversity Mental Health Program for rural-focused resources and support.

Notes

1

Matthew, P. (27 July 2022). A new project wants to turn stories of drought resilience into a new book called 'My Drought Story'. Hunter Valley News. https://www.huntervalleynews.n...

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