SYDNEY – At a time of increasing loneliness, an Australian mental health support group has swapped Bondi Beach sands for home computers during the Australian corona virus locking, turning its message about social relations into a global audience.
Members of the OneWave group, who host British Prince Harry and his wife Meghan on their Australian tour, still meet at dawn for their weekly Friday Fluro session, which is named for the bright and fluroescent clothes that people wear to cheer up.
But now talks have been online since Australia closed its beaches and limited travel to curb the coronavirus.
“Every week we wear the brightest clothes we can to make mental health more visible, also bright colors make people happy,” founder Grant Trebilco told Reuters.
“One thing people need now is connections and one thing people need is to know they are not alone.”
Harry, who was open about his own struggle with mental health, and Meghan joined the circle when meeting at Bondi Beach during their visit to Australia in 2018.
The Fluro Friday session takes place on about 200 beaches in 40 countries, but for now, most participants can only talk to each other via the internet about how they cope separately.
Trebilco chaired Bondi’s summons from his home country, New Zealand, where he lived with his family until he could return to Australia.
Eight years ago, Trebilco was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and was hospitalized in a mental health facility.
Thinking his life was over and found himself unable to cope, he did one thing that made him happy: he went surfing.
Trebilco said “saltwater therapy” was where he found “happy places” and, hoping to find a way to share this discovery with others, he wore a fluorescence suit one Friday morning while preparing to surf. Fluro Friday was born.
(Reporting by Jill Gralow in Sydney. Writing by Melanie Burton in Melbourne; Editing by Robert Birsel)
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