The West

Thomas Proud. Picture: Ian Munro/The West Australian

Six years ago Thomas Proud opened the fridge and decided to change his life.

It was this simple motion which spurred the Midland resident - who had manic depression for more than a decade after a motor- cycle accident - to take his mental health into his own hands.

"I knew I needed to do something," he said. "I opened the fridge and I'm just staring at this medication and going, 'I don't want to take this any more, I don't want to feel this any more'.

"I wanted to feel happy. I just wanted to feel again."

So the 59-year-old did one of the only things that made him happy and picked up his guitar.

"Immediately the answer was music," he said.

"I picked up my guitar and experienced five minutes of happiness, bliss even.

"So I said to myself that I would do something that makes me feel good every day."

With the help of a doctor, Mr Proud weened himself off his medication over six months.

Mr Proud has become a peer support worker and is one of three people who have had a mental illness to take part in a five-minute video which will air tonight at Northbridge Piazza as part of Mental Health Week which runs until Sunday. The short film encourages people to talk openly about mental health and to seek help when needed.

Mental Health Minister Helen Morton said the Mental Health Week theme of Connect, Celebrate, Grow had been incorporated in the production of the video.

"Conversations about mental health are increasingly entering the mainstream," she said. "Videos like these spark dialogue, reduce ignorance, assist viewers and fight stigma."

A number of events will be held across the city for Mental Health Week, including the Mental Health Good Outcomes Awards tomorrow.

The West Australian

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