Surf and colour with a message about looking out for each other

Reaching out to your mates and talking about mental health will be in the spotlight early Friday morning when a group of people dressed in bright colours take to the waves.

This week’s Fluro Friday event, now in its second year, has been organised by three Warrnambool friends who work in health – Alex Umbers, Susan Potter and Tara Trickey – to highlight the fact mental health challenges will affect most people at some stage in their lives.

“In Warrnambool, working as a doctor in emergency you see people come in crisis so often because they haven’t had a chance to reach out to people or haven’t known where to go, or their mates have been afraid to ask,” Dr Umbers said.

She said she hoped the community surf event, open to anyone wanting to swim, boogie-board or hit the water another way, would send the message that people should start a conversation with their friends if they’re worried about them.

“It’s really easy if someone has a broken leg to say, ‘how’s your broken leg?’,” Dr Umbers said.

“It’s much harder to ask about mental well-being.”

Each year one in five Australians will experience a mental illness, Australian Bureau of Statistics data says.

Dr Umbers said conditions for the day were looking good and encouraged people to come along and experience the liberating feeling of being in the ocean while having fun wearing vibrant colours.

The event starts at 7.15am at the Warrnambool Surf Club and is due to finish by about 8.30am.