New therapy program surfing into Yamba this week
TURNERS Beach is set to host exciting surf therapy sessions this August, with a free six-week program from the Waves of Wellness Foundation aiming to break down stigma and provide accessible mental health support for local men and teens.
WOW Sand 'n' Surf pairs weekly wellness discussions with learn-to-surf lessons, adopting a 'health by stealth' approach designed to appeal to men from all walks of life through surfing and the ocean.
The initiative is backed by Movember, with the men's health charity contributing close to $1M in funding over the past four years, seeing it rolled out successfully in locations including Sydney, Newcastle and the Sunshine Coast. Thanks to local surf school, Surf Camp Down Under, the program is now also available in Yamba.
Joel Pilgrim, founder of the Waves of Wellness (WOW) Foundation, said: "After working with teachers in the Clarence Valley, it was clear support like this didn't exist in the area. With the level of mental health challenges experienced in the region, we made it a priority to get the WOW Sand 'n' Surf going in the local community."
Landing a dream job combining her love of surfing with Occupational Therapy, Vicky Lord, 32, is set to run the program locally. Originally from England, Vicky is a new arrival to Yamba and is passionate about sharing the positive impact surfing can have on mental health.
"Having mental health awareness and education in a different environment, like the beach, can be so helpful for a lot of people who might feel confronted by conventional methods of support. Being outside in a familiar space and learning a fun skill like surfing, is a great way to reach people and encourage them to talk and open up.
"With teenagers who experience issues with their mental health, I notice them being so much more open when we do stuff outside, away from school or typically clinical environments."
On average, men are three times more likely to die by suicide than women. And research shows men are significantly less likely to reach out for help when they're struggling.