Pirie singer has last word on World Mental Health Day

At a gathering of about 40 people on World Mental Health Day, a lone guitarist plucked his strings.

Norm Caputo sweetly sang a calypso message: "Don't worry, be happy!"

The upbeat tune swept through the room at GP Plus, in Gertrude Street, and its sentiment would not have been lost on the mental health workers, agency staff and mental health "consumers" who were there.

Those with mental health issues can be victims of chemical changes in the brain which make it difficult to see the bright side of life and sometimes result in suicide.

It can become a daily struggle to survive.

Nevertheless, Norm's last word in song, as the gathering dispersed, was heartfelt and uplifting.

Earlier, Patrick Colyer, of Port Germein, shared his journey with the audience.

He said he had been wrongly diagnosed in 1995 with bipolar disorder, but was later correctly found to have schizophreniform disorder.

He praised the accommodation at the Glenside campus in Adelaide, but said that when patients are mentally unwell they surrender "the human right available to you" to determine their future.

He told The Recorder that he had lived with his disorder for 24 years.

Wellness counsellor Anthony North, of Still Earth, revealed how he had attempted suicide as a result of suffering from depression.

"If you had asked me just before I attempted it, I would not have told you the truth," he said.

"What the ---- am I here for? I had to know what was my point.

"Love and 'connection' is all we require and it is all around us ... but I never referred to it ... I had forgotten the people who were connected.

"I don't want to scare any of the boys in here, but 'love' is a big word ... put in the work for the most important connection that you have.

"Self-care is not selfish - you are responsible for your own happiness."

He invited audience members to close their eyes while he counted down five stages of meditation, asking everyone to think of moments of giving and taking love.

"Chemically, giving love is the same as receiving love," he said.

Mayor Leon Stephens, who took part in the meditation, said afterwards that it would be great for the community if everyone could "carry Anthony's message forward".

The Recorder spoke to "Heather", not her real name, to gain an insight into the world of mental issues. She immediately spoke about how important her family was to her.

"I have had a mental condition for 17 years. I suffer from bipolar manic depression," she said.

Asked how much it had affected her life, she replied: "Heaps."

"I was in a domestic-violence relationship which caused my illness because I was bashed around the head," she said.

"My partner now is wonderful."

She was grateful for the services and staff available to her.

"Medication is good. People are understanding," she said.

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