‘Depression and Hope’ at Tanilba Bay offers support for mental health struggles

Rob Hoile heads ‘Depression and Hope’ at Tanilba Bay.

WITHIN the last twelve months it is estimated that 4.2 million people in Australia have experienced a mental health disorder.

That statistic comprises one fifth of the population between the ages of sixteen to 85.

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More than twice that number will deal with some manner of mental health disorder in their lifetime.

It is a sobering reality which has been all too familiar to Rob Hoile.

“I went through a period of significant health problems a few years back and that led to me experiencing depression as well,” Rob said.

Through his own journey of recovery Rob discovered the prevalence of depression and anxiety that affects the lives of so many people, but he was also inspired to find ways to support those who go through these painful and difficult seasons.

Now as a Counsellor he seeks to offer hope to those in their darkest times.

“One of the basic ways to start helping people going through depression is to let them know that they’re not alone,” said Rob.

“That’s really what ‘Depression and Hope’ is all about.

“It’s about creating a safe place for people to be open about what they’re going through, and maybe help each other to cope.”

Depression and Hope started as a support group at New Vine Lakes Baptist Church in 2017 and has now planted five groups across the Hunter region.

When Rob moved into the Port Stephens area he knew there would be a good opportunity to bring the program to more people in need.

He found a ready host for the group at Tanilba Bay.

“I’d known Rob prior to his moving here and was aware of the kind of work he was involved in,” said Pastor Anthony Gentle.

“It’s been a great partnership to be able to offer hope to those who need it.”

The meetings are open to anyone and no costs are involved.

Rob describes the meetings as ‘pretty casual and laid-back’ with no agenda beyond providing a space.

“Those who come can have a chance to talk about what’s going on in their lives, or perhaps just encourage others who are doing it tough at the moment,” said Rob.

“We’re able to offer strategies to better cope with depression.

“Part of the insidious cycle of depression is that people feel as though they are alone, or that they can’t talk about what they’re going through.

“They can become trapped in themselves and it’s hard to break free.”

Part of the key to helping people in this situation, Rob says, is making them feel seen and heard.

“We also talk about how to recognise the signs of depression so that we might be able to help those around us who are suffering silently.”

Helping people to make their way through these times, Anthony says, is all about offering people hope.

“One of the things you begin to see with depression is just how widespread the impact is, not just on those who are going through it, but on their families and friends as well,” Pastor Anthony Gentle said.

“It ripples outward in painful ways.”

Depression and Hope meets fortnightly on Thursday evenings at Tanilba Bay Baptist Church.

Their next meeting will be Thursday 21 September at 7pm.

By Lindsay HALL

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