By Jess Baker
A Southern Downs resident has launched a free community podcast series, designed to support the mental health recovery journey of locals after the 2019-20 bushfires.
Accredited mental health social worker Kathryn Walton said the podcast, called ‘Speak out loud: Stories of Strength from the Southern Downs’, tells residents’ stories of strength and hope and shares evidence-based information from local health experts and community workers.
The 12-part series includes episodes about sleep, nutrition, emotional stress, financial stress, youth mental health, and community and personal recovery.
Kathryn said feedback from listeners of the podcast had so far been “really positive”.
“Whilst the podcast was produced to specifically support the people in our region who are recovering from bushfire … there’s a lot of information that’s in there that is valuable to people no matter where they live,” she said.
“But in each of the episodes we do talk about some of our local resources and services and supports.”
The podcast features conversations with a number of Southern Downs residents who nearly lost everything in the 2019-20 bushfires.
Kathryn said she hopes their stories of strength and hope can help others.
“I’m really looking for people to take on board some actions that can really make a difference to their lives because I know they can,” she said.
“I’m just absolutely convinced of that – I see it over and over again.
“There are so many things that we all do each day that if we just did it a little bit differently can make a big difference.”
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, Kathryn led an “adventure therapy project” for women for a number of years which encouraged outdoor exercise as a means to protect mental health.
But she said funding for the project was withdrawn when face-to-face interaction became off limits.
“So I had to be a little creative about how I could share some really valuable lifestyle information with people in the community that supports their mental health and wellbeing,” she said.
“I decided I would like to do a podcast.”
Kathryn has decades of experience as a social worker, and 15 years’ experience as an accredited mental health social worker. Her latest podcast initiative is supported by Darling Downs and West Moreton PHN.
The series is now available through Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and wherever else people may get their podcasts.