In the 21st Century, mental health has become as important as physical health – and rightly so! Taking care of not only our own mental health but checking in on others can sometime’s make a world of difference. It’s organisations like LIVIN, a Gold Coast-based and non-profit mental health organisation, that are helping to destigmatise mental health and promoting the message that #itaintweaktospeak. We were fortunate enough to ask a few questions to founders Sam Webb & Casey Lyons about their mission and how we can all improve our own and other’s mental health through early intervention and prevention initiatives.
How long have you been Gold Coast locals?
S: I was born in Sydney and grew up on the Gold Coast in Burleigh Heads. I relocated to Sydney, Bondi Beach in 2014 and have since moved to LA – where I now live.
C: 32 years, which is my whole life.
What do you both love the most about the Gold Coast?
S: I miss the beaches on the Gold Coast. Growing up on the Gold Coast I use to surf 3 times a day and looking back now, that is definitely something I took a little for granted.
C: I think it is a great mix of everything; the beach, work, great food and weather, and the hinterland isn’t too far away at all.
Tell us about how LIVIN came about.
S: LIVIN started in 2013 after we lost a good friend Dwayne Lally to suicide. Dwayne’s death was a wake-up moment for me at a time of my life when I was also at my lowest point. Dwayne’s death was felt by an unquantifiable amount of people, from so many walks of life, and we soon realized that there was a lot of people who struggled in silence with their mental health similar to Dwayne. For Dwayne’s wake, we created and sold t-shirts with Dwayne’s’ portrait on it along with one of his favorite lyrics from a song. Our intentions were to sell the t-shirts to raise some money to give to Dwayne’s family to support some of the financial burden around funeral costs. Dwayne’s mum and dad told us to keep the money and do something great with it. So, we did. And that is where LIVIN started. From very humble beginnings in my kitchen in Burleigh, to a spare room at my next home to then Casey’s garage, LIVIN started growing quicker than we expected all thanks to the support we garnered from so many young people who could relate with Dwayne’s story and breaking the stigma around mental health.
Why is mental health so important?
S: I believe that without good mental health, the rest suffers in some way. Our life goals, ambitions, passions, hobbies, relationships you name it, begins and ends with mental health. I am not saying that if you have poor mental health today you won’t achieve your desires, but I do believe that staying mentally healthy and prioritizing your mental health needs will serve you extremely well in your life both personally and professionally.
C: While we don’t all have mental ill-health, we ALL have mental health. Mental health is relevant to absolutely everyone! I can’t think of a more compelling reason to shine a spotlight on any topic.
How is LIVIN helping to change the stigma surrounding Mental Health?
S: LIVIN’s vision is to break the stigma around mental health through early intervention and prevention. We do this through our 3 core pillars.
1) LIVINWell- We deliver our LIVINWell in School program to students all around the country free of charge. Our program has been specifically designed to educate students on a range of issues related to mental health, with an emphasis on breaking the stigma of mental health, enhancing self-efficacy (both helping themselves and helping others) and encouraging help-seeking behaviour. It is delivered by experienced, highly relatable and carefully selected Facilitators that have a blend of lived experience and mental health training.L
2) LIVINWear- We sell streetwear and apparel. Think of this as a walking billboard spreading positive messages through collections to create conversations and raise awareness around mental health. Wearing a t-shirt, hoodie or hat can create on average 20 conversations around mental health that could be life-changing.
3) LIVINLife- Through our online social media community, fundraising and events, we are creating a cohesive, connected ecosystem that engages with the lifestyle of LIVIN which is why LIVIN has been the success it has been. Without our community, none of this would be possible. So thank you to everyone who’s helped in some kind of way.
What are some ways we can take care of our own mental health?
S: Practicing self-care. Focus on the things that you enjoy doing. That may be exercise, drawing, painting or journaling. Do them often and set time aside for them. Speaking about how you are feeling and educating others that may not be aware of what you may be going through can be beneficial. Remember, people are not mind readers. Above all, It Ain’t Weak to Speak. Reach out if you need some help and treat yourself like a good friend.
C: Self-care is my number one tip. Self-care is certainly not selfish and it doesn’t need to be something extravagant, 10-15 minutes each day is a great starting point. What does self-care look like? Well, that is completely up to the individual but typically it is doing what makes you happy; things that help you to relax, unwind, de-stress. Exercise is great for me and exercise doesn’t need to be strenuous either, it needs to be something that you can sustain.
What are some signs of depression people should look out for?
C: There are many different signs we can look for – noticeable changes in appearance, no longer enjoying things you used to enjoy, low energy and motivation, feeling like everything is too hard. However, the one I like to share is, any change in what would be typical behaviour for yourself or someone you know that has lasted for longer than two weeks is a good indication to explore what is going on.
How can we start the conversation with someone we may see is having a difficult time?
C: This is generally the part that people find the hardest to do, I understand this but it doesn’t need to be. People think that by starting a conversation it could encourage the person to do something terrible or make them worse. This is not the case, there is research that suggests that it is very hard to say the wrong thing if our intention is pure. I like to start the conversation by asking the person how they are going. I am usually met with the throw-away “yeah, good thanks”. I then say “no, how are you really going”? It can be helpful to communicate some of the things you’ve noticed that have prompted some concern. E.g., I have noticed x y z lately and you don’t seem yourself, is there anything I can help you with? After you have kick-started a conversation the best thing you can do to help someone is to listen and listen without harsh or critical judgment.
What are your Gold Coast favourites…
S: Commune Cafe
C: Espresso Moto Palm Beach
S: Didn’t drink coffee until 32 years of age and that was in LA
C: Flying Bean Beechmont
S: Bonita Bonita
C: Labart, Burgster, Wahoos, Harry’s or Ginger Indian – it really depends on the mood.
Bar or pub for a drink:
S: Ze Pickle
How do you both choose to spend your weekends?
S: Spending time with my Fiancé Nadia, friends, something outdoors like running or hiking for sure and then plenty of movies. I love a good film with some popcorn! It’s the perfect way to relax.
C: With the family down at Talle Creek, eating food at one of the above restaurants, mowing my lawns, or if I’m lucky, a bit of golf.