The Centre for Emotional Health is extremely fortunate to have Ambassadors who lend their support to raising awareness about the importance of emotional health, the need for continued research and the difference research can make to lives of individuals, families and communities.

Erin Hoare, semi-professional netballer and psychology PhD candidate

When she's not shooting goals on the netball court Erin Hoare is busily working towards a doctorate in Psychology.  Having already attained a Bachelor of Psychology with Honours, Erin's PhD study will evaluate the impact physical activity and nutrition choices have on adolescent depression.  Erin says:

"I am passionate about mental health awareness because the negative emotional experiences associated with excess worry, anxiety and stress is something we all experience. I believe we misleadingly feel that these experiences are ingrained within us and that they cannot change – that admitting to anxiety may be seen as inadequate or weak. I have been fortunate through academic and sporting experiences to learn that this belief is so untrue and that we can learn to care for our emotional health, not dissimilar to how we learn to take care of our physical health. Being emotionally healthy is something I believe every individual has the right to achieve and a pursuit that shows great courage and strength.

The Centre for Emotional Health provides amazing support for those experiencing anxiety, depression and related mental health issues through research and practical application – opportunities to support emotional health that would not have otherwise been available. I am a passionate and proud supporter of the work being done at the Centre for Emotional Health. Understanding anxiety, reducing stigma around mental health issues and providing access to resources, tools and skills is of upmost importance to our overall well-being."

Erin Hoare
Follow on Twitter:  @Erin_Hoare

Dr Jessica Baker, ultra runner

“Mummy, I don’t have bad thoughts anymore”. Tears well in a mum’s eyes, as she shares a touching moment in treatment with her daughter. I have been fortunate enough to work at the Centre for over four years, and see first-hand just what outstanding work is achieved.  People ask me how I am able to run such long distances.   There is pain, there are low patches, but I hold on, I push on, and the feeling at the end is amazing. One of the things I love about ultra running, is that it pushes beyond what we think we can do.   The CEH’s work, behind the scenes through research and hands on, helps challenge the restrictions that anxiety and depression can place on one’s life. It is a place where individual’s can push beyond their anxiety, and enjoy all the brilliance that life has to offer!  It is an honour to be an ambassador for the CEH and share in their vision for an emotionally health community.

Jessica Baker

Ben Knight, former Sydney Kings captain and Australian basketball representative

"When I was 13 years old my mother Mary and father Ron sat me down to talk about a life threatening illness my father had, they told me that dad had 3 months to live as he had cancer of the Oesophagus. I was really upset and it was probably the first time in my life i just broke down and cried. The cancer had spread to other parts of his body and it was past the point of chemotherapy or radiation treatments. Dad was a fitness fanatic exercising twice a day most days and had a very healthy diet. However he was a very heavy smoker and the oncologist believed this was the cause of his cancer.

It was a very emotional time for my mother and I, within week’s dad was bed ridden and was rapidly losing weight due to not being able to eat solid food. For pain relief my father required regular doses of morphine which caused him to make loud moaning and groaning noises which could go all night. This was an extremely emotional time as i struggled to sleep at night and was fearful of what was happening.

My father was a proud man and rarely asked for help. He refused to be hospitalised. On top of this which I felt made it really hard on my mother he wanted nobody to know of his illness. My mother and I had to hide it from the neighbours family members and friends. This was very difficult as i was constantly asked why they hadn't seen my father around and why his car was sitting in the driveway. High school became tough to attend as i struggled to keep my mind on classes as i was always wondering what was happening at home.

I came home from school one afternoon and as I walked through the front door I noticed it to be very quiet, I went into my parents’ bedroom where mum had been giving dad a drink when she realised that my father had just passed away. Mum turned to me and said Ben can you ask one of our neighbours to ring for the Doctor. I was in complete shock to see my father lying there and ran in a panic to get help .My father passed away on the 19th of October, 1989. He was 51 years old.

After my father's passing I was fortunate to have great people around me, my family and friends were very supportive and amazing through this tough period in my life. As shocked as my family and friends were of my father’s passing, they were also upset that they couldn't offer their help and support to mum and I through this difficult time. After my father’s funeral my Aunt and Uncle took me on a holiday to get away and take my mind off things, this really seemed to help. Over the following months my mother and I often discussed the passing of my father, mum constantly assured me everything would be fine and that she would always be there for me. This made me feel secure and more settled even though I wondered at times how we were going to survive.

From this experience in my life I have realised the importance of having positive support around you and that it is ok to ask for help. I have found that communicating about these emotional issues can help you to cope. I have become an Ambassador for the CEH so that I can promote and spread the word about the resources that are available. I believe that no-one should have to deal with these issues in our society alone.

Shoot For Your Dreams."

Ben Knight

Simon Palomares, writer and entertainer

Stand-up comedian Simon Palomares was one of the creators and stars of the Wogs Out of Work comedy stage show, which later evolved into the Acropolis Now TV series. He has performed comedy shows in the United States, Canada and now Spain and Argentina, where he performs stand-up in Spanish. An acclaimed actor, writer, director, he is also one of the most sought-after corporate entertainers in Australia.

"If sanity, as they say, is a reality we share, nothing can be more important to promote mental health than communication and the confidence to share one's problems and concerns without the fear of stigma.  I feel a bit of a fraud talking about anxiety and panic disorders these days as, I have to admit, in  my case they seem to have been relegated to my past, which I hope gives encouragement to current sufferers. In my case it was a mixture of Cognitive Therapy, being aware of stress levels in my life and cross checking with people around me as to the validity of my fears. To me the ability to speak freely of our mental health concerns is of the utmost importance in dealing with mental health issues many of which are suffered in private and in silence."

Simon Palomares

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