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Letter to Editor: Lifeline Lismore

Lifeline sign for those in need of assistance after the 2017 Lismore Floods.
Lifeline sign for those in need of assistance after the 2017 Lismore Floods. Sophie Moeller

RESEARCH shows that communities impacted by a natural disaster can begin to experience increased and more profound stress about six months after the event; in response to this challenge Lifeline and the University Centre for Rural Health have come together to design and deliver an innovative group program called "Using Our Brains for a Change!" . The project is a 6-week group program designed to empower people to better manage their responses to adversity and to improve their overall well-being.

Many people have had a hard time after the March/April 2017 floods. We want to ask some questions around their experience such as: How has it been for you?

Has getting back on your feet been a problem? Have you been feeling low or anxious or giving yourself a hard time? Have you had self-blaming thoughts like: "Others seem to have got over it completely- what's wrong with me?" And having asked those questions work with impacted community members to help them to better manage their responses and regain control of their well-being.

Lifeline, in collaboration with the Lismore-based University Centre for Rural Health, is running the group. In this group participants will learn what contemporary understandings of the human brain can tell us about moving forward after a natural disaster. They will use their brain to get their lives back on track - or to change tracks - and to increase their sense of wellbeing. This program will draw on mindfulness, self-compassion and positive psychology practices, as well as neuroscience. The aim is to create some new ways of being that offer an opportunity for growth and renewal in peoples' lives over the coming months and years.

The content for the project has been developed by James Bennett Levy, Professor of Mental Health and Psychological Wellbeing at the University Centre for Rural Health (North Coast) working in partnership with Ruth Rosenhek, psychotherapist. Ruth currently works in Lismore with clients experiencing complex trauma as well as with depression, anxiety, and other issues related to individual and community wellbeing. Ruth was personally impacted by the flood and worked with Helping Hands post-flood.

This first group will be facilitated by Ruth. The group will meet in Lismore at 5.30 pm on Wednesdays, with the first meeting on Wednesday 25/10/2017. To register your interest see contact below or email niallm@lis.net.au.

We intend to offer more groups in other Northern Rivers' communities in early 2018. The group has been funded under the joint State and Commonwealth Natural Disaster Resilience Program.

Niall Mulligan

Lismore Centre Manager

Lifeline

66224133


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