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Wave of momentum on mental health awareness


Rhys Denton’s legacy will be felt for years to come.

Sadly, Rhys passed away a few weeks ago at the age of just 22, with his death coming as a shock to all who knew him.

Despite their loss, his family and friends are bringing awareness to mental health issues and want to promote connection, community, and conversations.  

Younger brother Lennex wanted to do something to honour Rhys; he didn’t want this to happen to anyone else.

So, after exploring a few ideas, and community support, a Facebook page – Rhys Riding Waves of Wellness – was born and, throughout November, they organised a Rhys Denton day, hosted several challenges, and started a conversation about mental health.

The group managed to raise a total of $14,000, which has now been donated to headspace Newcastle to facilitate surf therapy programs through the Waves of Wellness foundation.

headspace Newcastle Community Development Officer, Byron Williams, says that awareness of support services is vital, particularly those outside of business hours, because “there is no calendar for mental health issues”.

“If a younger person is struggling, they need to reach out to someone,” he says.

“It’s phenomenal for headspace to see people connected from the community and, for us, the money is great, but just seeing the community take up the torch for mental health and [start] conversations is the most important thing.”

Rhys’ family plans to host the challenge every year alongside the community, with Rhys Denton Day to occur on the last weekend of November.

His mum, Catherine, says she wants people to remember him and check in on their mates.

“It is one thing to say are you okay but it’s another thing to go further than that,” she says.

“Everyone goes: ‘How you going? ‘Yeah I’m alright’, but to actually educate ourselves to be able to help someone who is struggling [is important].”

Catherine hopes that facilitating community conversations and bringing awareness to what people can face helps to promote support and highlights the importance of asking for help.  

If you or anyone you know is struggling visit headspace’s online tool for youth, call Lifeline’s Crisis Support Line on 13 11 14 or contact your local GP.

Go to the Rhys Riding Waves of Wellness – WOW Facebook page for more information or, to donate to headspace Newcastle call their office on 4929 4201.

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