More than one hundred people from across the region recently came together to enjoy the soulful sounds and stories of multi-award winning singer-songwriter, Melinda Schneider at the Glen Innes RSL.
Organised by GLENRAC, in partnership with the Rural Adversity Mental Health Program (RAMHP), the evening featured music performances by Melinda, intertwined with stories of her life and battles with mental health.
With a career in the Australian music industry spanning over 40 years, Melinda's accolades have included 15 albums, six CMAA Golden Guitars and a live theatre tour. She has also worn many other career hats during this time, including fashion designer, actress and CEO of MPOWER Records.
But with the incredible success of Melinda's career also came enormous pressure, extreme hours and tireless work. In 2018, she found herself overwhelmed by depression and anxiety, and she shared her feelings of shame and guilt at her wellbeing with the audience.
'What did I have to be depressed about?," said Ms Schneider.
"I had a great life, a successful career, a home, a kind and loving partner and a beautiful son. There were so many people worse off than me. I've since learned that it's all relative and comparisons don't help.
"They only make you feel worse. It's validation a person with depression needs. Permission to feel exactly how they need to feel at any given time."
Melinda, who in 2020 partnered with RAMHP as an ambassador to raise awareness of mental health, offered words of kindness, hope and resilience and shared the importance of building strong community connections to help get through the tough times. In the rural setting of Glen Innes which has battled its own share of adversity over the last decade, this advice is particularly poignant.
"For me, to be gentle on yourself means learning to stop self-judgement and treating myself with the same unconditional love I give my child," Ms Schneider said.
"This doesn't come easily, it takes practice, daily."
The evening also included discussions with RAMHP Coordinators, Leitita Cross and Andrew Daley, as well as entertainment from GLENRAC Treasurer Sam Baker who was the emcee on the night.
"It was great to see a healthy crowd at the RSL and Glen provide a warm welcome to Melinda," said Mr Baker.
"Melinda's presentation was excellent, and she must be congratulated on her bravery in sharing an unvarnished take on her childhood and challenges with mental health.
"Her message of being kind to yourself and being prepared to reach out to our support network of friends, family and health professionals is a very important one."
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