Mental Health Month Event Starter Kit

We have everything you need!

Our starter kit has everything you need to plan your Mental Health Month 2022 event. It includes information and worksheets, as well as information about applying for one of WayAhead’s small grants.

The 2022 Starter Kit and Event Planning Worksheet is available for download now!

Download here

What is Mental Health Month?

Mental Health Month gives us an opportunity to raise awareness around mental health and wellbeing. It is marked in New South Wales, Victoria, and the ACT and centres specifically on World Mental Health Day on October 10.

Tuning In means being present. It means being aware of what’s happening within you, and in the world around you.

  • Tune In to your senses – what can you sense right now? What can you feel?
  • Tune In to your communities – what’s happening that you can be part of, or that you can help others be part of?
  • Tune In to stigma – how do attitudes and understandings of mental health and wellbeing impact people’s ability to live the lives they want?

Firstly, taking a moment to Tune In can help still and focus your mind, it can help you understand what’s going on for you and others.

Secondly, Tuning in can help you find a new perspective, and it can help you reflect and be present. It can help build self-awareness, help make effective choices, reduce the impact of worry, and build positive connections.

Lastly, Tuning In to communities and the impact of mental health stigma can help ensure that people who need support have safe places to talk about their experiences and reach out.

Find out more about how this theme was developed

“Tune In to Mental Health Month and help create a world we can all Tune In to.”

Kiama Council – Chalk art workshop 2020

Why should you be involved?

A Mental Health Month project or event is a great way to encourage awareness of mental health, and social and emotional wellbeing in your community. It can also decrease stigma, and empower people to seek help, for themselves or others. It can even give people from your community the awareness and the courage to consider their mental health and wellbeing something that they can work on.

Mental Health Month events can be fun, thought-provoking, creative, engaging, sporty, and interesting. Above all, they should bring people together and start conversations.

Key dates for Mental Health Month 2022


MHM Grants are closed for 2022


The award nominations are now closed for 2022


Our free resources orders are now closed for 2022 but check out our

Mental Health Month Starter Kit

The changes brought about by COVID-19 are impacting us all. As a result, the important work of Mental Health Month is even more vital to the wellbeing of our communities.

We know that many groups and organisations plan their Mental Health Month activities long in advance and that the uncertainty of the current situation makes this challenging.

We also recognise that it can be a challenge to design projects and events without knowing exactly how things will be in October.

That’s why we’re continuing to support people across NSW, especially through our small grants program.

Although in-person events might not be possible in October, we know that the groups and organisations who apply for our grants consistently create incredible projects and events to support people and raise awareness during Mental Health Month. We know that year will be no different.

Ideas for a physically distant event

We’ve put together this little list to help spark your creativity and to help support your grant applications. We absolutely encourage you to think outside the box about ways you and your communities can get involved in Mental Health Month!

Recorded or Live Online Workshops and Presentations
  • Presentations, panel discussions, and similar events can either be pre-recordings or live online events with interactive forums. As a result, people can view pre-recorded content at any time from their home, and live events can include community Q&A.
  • There are several web-based applications, including Facebook Live, YouTube, Google Meet, Instagram Live, and Zoom, which all have their benefits and drawbacks so it is worth investigating each option.
  • To organize a live event, it is a good idea to get registrations from participants ahead of time, which can be done via an online survey tool or event ticketing platform. This can help keep participants up to date with your event and help build anticipation and excitement.
  • As with any Mental Health Month event, people can experience a range of emotions and having someone available to chat and direct people makes sure that the comments and discussion are as effective as possible. That’s why it’s important to ensure that during live online events there are people on hand to moderate and help along the discussion. Since these events are live, it can help to have some pre-planned responses, such as a list of relevant services and contact numbers. Sending out a safe-discussion guide in advance can also help ensure that people involved in the discussion can contribute safely.
Collaborative Online Art Projects
  • Collaborative online art projects or interactive projects can be a great way to engage people online.
  • Using social media platforms such as Instagram Stories or Facebook Stories, collaborative art projects can start with one person and be shared and added to by others through editing the story and re-sharing to others.
  • Prompts for sharing of photos, art, or videos can be used and shared together through a specific hashtag through sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok.
  • Submissions of individual artistic contributions that fit a topic or prompt can be combined into a larger quilt or art piece that can also be shared online.
  • Using social media such as an Instagram account, website, or Facebook, a campaign could be done with anonymous contributions surrounding a topic of mental health.
Online Group Gatherings or Events
  • Web-based applications, such as Facebook Live, YouTube, Google Meet, Instagram Live, and Zoom, can be used for live events and gatherings. These can be for specific activities such as yoga practice, learning new dance, singing, or games such as trivia or musical bingo. These can even be themed events, such as dressing up as your favorite animal.
Mental Health Hour
  • Similar to Earth Hour and other types of hour-long events, events can run for a specific hour or time where everyone takes part in a specific pre-set activity such as lighting a candle or listening to a favorite song. This is something for multiple people to do at once in solidarity and togetherness.
Chalk Art
  • Chalk art can be used to decorate places where drawing is allowed in the community. Inspiring messages or notes can be left for others to see as they pass by during exercise time.
Online Film Festival
  • An online short film festival is another option. This can be done over the course of several weeks or even just 24 hours and may follow a specific theme or item. Films can then be posted online or streamed online during a specific event time.
Mail-in collaboration
  • Getting people to mail in art, letters, cards, photos, or community messages, and then displaying these in a public area is a great way to raise awareness of Mental Health Month, especially amongst people who might not typically be involved. You can also set up “creation stations” where materials are available for those who want to contribute as they walk past the display. For example, last year Newcastle Airport asked community organisations to send in folded paper planes which were then displayed at the airport for Mental Health Month.
  • Pen pal initiatives can help connect with people who might have difficulty accessing the internet reliably. Participants can be randomly matched, and you can have a variety of “writing prompts” to help people write their letters. You might also like to develop a “mail tag” form where people can fill out pre-determined questions to swap with their pen pals.

Remember to list your event or project with WayAhead on our


– Brainstorm – Research –

Identify the issue – What do you want to address? General awareness? Reducing stigma? Increasing access to services?

Think about why this issue is important – To you, your organisation, your community.

It’s important because that will help keep your event on-track, and help you determine the goals for your event.

Identify your target audience and research how best to reach them – What has worked in the past? Use your own expertise here – do people come together over food? Music? Maybe you can combine a few approaches to reach more people.

Identify your goals – What do you want to achieve. Think broad, rather than specific. What’s the aim of the project or event? This should reflect the issue you’ve identified, as well as your target audience.

Identify your challenges – Think about what might hinder the success of your event or project. For instance, this can be broad – stigma, discrimination – or specific – lack of appropriate venue in your area, communication challenges. In short, thinking through potential challenges before they come up allows you to plan for them before they come up


– Plan – Design –

This is the stage where you use everything from step one to actually plan the event or project you want to create. The information from step one should inform what your project or event looks like.

Plan a message – Something cohesive and catchy that ties your event or project together. Think about the issue and the goals you have identified, and how you want to capture that.

Plan the event – What type of event or project best suits what you’ve identified? Where will you hold it? Think about this stage strategically, and break it down into as many steps as you need.

Plan what you need – what do you need to host this event or project successfully – materials/supplies, staffing, time? Creating a visual plan can help to work this out, including a timeline. Having lots of small time-based goals can also help ensure everything gets done in time.


– Connect – Promote –

Connect – Are there other services or organisations in your area that work with similar people, or do similar things? You’re probably already connected with them professionally, think about teaming up with them for Mental Health Month

Connect – Connecting with other organisations and groups can help promote the event, pool resources, and find new opportunities for your event or project. It can help you reach more people with your message.

Connect – Where do the people you work with tend to connect best? This could include social media, newspapers or support groups, among others. This kind of promotion means you’re meeting people on their own ground and also making use of systems already in place. However, don’t forget to invite people directly as well.

Promote – Think about how best to promote your event or project so you can make a difference to as many people as possible. Make use of local media, and think creatively about how best to reach as many people as possible. Professional looking posters can also make a difference, but not every organisation has access to a graphic designer. There are some free online tools such as ADOBE SPARK which can help design great posters without design knowledge.

Promote – There’s a media guide included in this starter kit with even more ideas for promoting your project and event.

And don’t forget to register your event or project with WayAhead on our EVENTS CALENDAR


– Check – Measure –

Check – Have a framework for evaluating your project to help make sure your project or event stays true to the goals you’ve identified and to let you know that you’ve been successful. The framework can be complex or simple, but it’s important it’s useful to you.

Think about:
What you’ll want to measure?
How best to measure it?

Check – Types of evaluation:

Outcome evaluation – Has the desired effect been achieved? Are people seeking help more? Making contact? This can be difficult to measure, so it can be helpful to think of one simple thing that can be easily tracked. This can include, for instance, the number of people who have signed up to your mailing list, or people who have liked, shared or commented on your social media posts.

Implementation evaluation – Did you stick to your plan? Did your project get through unexpected challenges?

Goals evaluation – Have you achieved the goals you decided on?

It can be good to think about how you will evaluate the project/event from the beginning to make sure the evaluation framework fits the project. In fact, it can even form part of your event. For example, people can post selfies using a specific hashtag, or write their thoughts or feedback on a large board. Each of these can be counted and used for evaluation.

You can use these to brainstorm and lock in your event ideas. However, there are many ways to organise your thoughts and actions which might suit you better.

Click the images to download.

(Whichever one works best for your brain)

Mind Flow chart to help plan a Mental Health Month event
Mind Map template to help plan a Mental Health Month event

WayAhead provides small grants to help get your Mental Health Month event off the ground.

The grants for 2022 are now closed

We provide 50 grants of either $500 or $1000 across the following categories:

  • General
  • Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD)
  • Sex, Sexuality and/or Gender Diverse (LGBTIQA+)
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
  • Youth

What are we looking for?


Is your event taking a new approach to mental health promotion? A creative way to reach people? Or is it a new way of delivering a tried-and true message? What makes your event stand out?

It doesn’t have to be completely new. If you know something works to reach your community, absolutely go with that. Most importantly, this is about showing that delivery of the project/event has been thought about from different perspectives, and that the most effective approach is taken.


Will your event or project reach hundreds? Thousands? Or just a few in a significant way?

Are there chances for “incidental” involvement with people who might not have heard about your event – people walking past maybe?

Is your event accessible? Out in public where lots of people can engage?


Have the steps been thought through? Have challenges been thought through and addressed?

We want all the events and projects to succeed, which means making sure that solid plans are in place, and that possible problems have been thought through.


How does your event or project centre the “Tune In” theme? “Tune In” has been chosen as the theme because of the positive impact it can have on mental wellbeing. Slowing down and tuning in to ourselves and our world are proven to increase positive mental wellbeing, so we are definitely looking for events and projects that incorporate this theme.


Have you connected with other organisations in your community? Who will you share the journey with? Making use of the resources and expertise of multiple organisations and groups increases the reach and success of events and projects. Think about other organisations you might partner with.

Overall, we are looking for an event or project which incorporates all these things cohesively – does it make sense as a whole? We aren’t looking for perfect spelling or grammar, but it can help to have someone look over your application so it’s clear and easy to understand.

How is it judged?

We have a panel of judges – a least two for each category – and for the target categories the judges must have experience with those communities. There is a clearly written guide for the judges, so they can mark the applications according to the same score sheet each time.

After that, the judges will meet in person to see if their scores match up and decide on the final recipients.

The application

Application forms need to be submitted online through our portal HERE.


We have both $1000 and $500 grants. Grants that are unsuccessful in the $1000 category will automatically be considered for a $500 grant – please indicate if you do not wish to be considered for the $500 grant.

If you have any questions about the judging process please get in touch.

A big part of Mental Health Month is that we increase public awareness of mental health and wellbeing. It also means that, for some people, this increased awareness can bring up some difficult thoughts or feelings. During your event or project, people might approach you with varying levels of concern or distress. Therefore, it’s important to know how best to support them, and yourself, whilst respecting the boundaries of the event, the other person, and yourself.

The following includes some tips you might find useful if someone approaches you for help at your event:

Be prepared
  • If you work for a mental health organisation or are a mental health professional, you will have experience in responding to enquiries about mental illness. Otherwise, preparing some information that you can pass on to people who have questions you don’t have answers to can be useful.
  • Having information on-hand from local organisations can also be useful for helping people determine what steps to take next
  • Additionally, you can find information on where to get help on our website at
Practice respectful communication
  • Listen actively to what people are saying to you. For instance, it can help to repeat what they have said as a question to make sure you’ve heard them correctly. It can sometimes help to share your own experience – although you certainly don’t have to – but often people just want to know that someone has heard their story. Active listening gives others a real sense that their story is important.
  • Avoid making judgements about behaviour that may seem unusual to you. If someone is talking with you about their mental health, they trust you to be understanding and non-judgemental. Avoid giving advice, including about diet, substance use, or other choices – this advice can feel like a judgement.
  • Respect that people are entitled to determine their own course of action. It is up to them what they do with the information available to them.
Know your boundaries
  • Before the event, have a think about what your boundaries are. Firstly, what do you feel confident talking about? Then, what might you need more information or support with? Lastly, when might you need to refer someone to another source of assistance?
  • Be honest about your limitations and communicate them clearly. Let others know if they are asking you for information or assistance that you can’t immediately provide. Most importantly, remember it’s ok not to know everything yourself.
  • Identify people that can support you if something comes up that is difficult or upsetting, and let them know that they might need to do that for you on the day.
Look after yourself and your team
  • Remember that looking after yourself and your team is just as important as looking after others.
  • Consider getting together before the event to have a chat about your plan and then after that, to talk about how you think things went and to celebrate.
  • Keep an eye out for each other on the day.

It’s important to think about how you’re going to promote your event or project. Some of the most effective channels are probably already familiar to you – social media, posters and flyers, email invitations – but engaging with local newspapers and other local media outlets it can also help increase awareness of your event.

Even if you are holding a private event (not open to the public), you may still wish to tell the media about it beforehand so that a journalist can attend part of the event and write a story about it to go into the local paper afterwards.

Alternatively, you can write your own media release and send it to local print, radio and TV journalists. We have also provided a template media release below as a guide.


Mental Health Month events are a great opportunity for media to bring attention to mental health, and your event provides a good reason for them to do this. Working with the media is also one more way that we can promote positive mental health and reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness.

If you are holding a public event, then using the media is a great way to get more participants.

How to get in the media?

Here are some important hints to remember when you’re working with the media:

  • Have your media release prepared before you contact a journalist. Make sure you can answer any questions they might have or send along the press release straight away if they’re interested.
  • Your local media are employed to cover interesting news, not provide free advertising. Don’t expect that they will automatically cover your story. It’s okay to follow up and find out whether the story is being published, but always be polite and don’t hound them for an answer.
  • Target your media release carefully. Don’t send a release about a book launch to the sports writer, and don’t send one email to multiple journalists. Address them by name and take a moment to introduce yourself. If you’re not sure who to talk to, call a general office number first and ask.
  • The person you speak to may not report many mental health stories, so be prepared to explain terms or direct them to other resources for more information. MINDFRAME have some good resources.
  • Most importantly, remember, your event could be very interesting to local news so don’t be shy! Think about what is unique and newsworthy about your event and mention it. For example, maybe you’re holding the only community fair in your town for the month. Perhaps you’ve found a local celebrity to speak. You might even be repeating an event that was successful the year before.

After that, keep in touch with your media contacts once the event is over. Even if they haven’t run a story yet, if you can provide good photos and details on how successful the event was, it may become more newsworthy. Whatever the outcome, make sure to say thank you for their time.

Sample media release

[Insert date] [Insert headline – keep it short and simple, you want it to be attention grabbing and ideally less than 7 words)] [Write a short paragraph summarising your event. That is to say, covering the ‘who, what, when, where, and why’ of your event, as this is often the most important information for a journalist.]

Mental health issues will affect 1 in 5 Australians every year. Anxiety disorders are often the most common mental health challenge, followed by depression.

[Include a relevant quote from a local, noteworthy person here.]

Mental Health Month is co-ordinated every October by WayAhead. This year the theme is ‘Tune In’. People across NSW & Australia come together during the month to hold events and promote good mental health and wellbeing in their local communities.

These events are a useful reminder for all of us to think about the mental health of ourselves and those around us. They’re also a good excuse to get out there and have some fun!

[Lastly, include final quote(s) and any final information relevant to your event, such as when it’s on and how people can RSVP or attend]

Contact details

Name: Your name

Phone: Your telephone or mobile

Email: Your email


Be careful with your spelling and grammar. If you’re unsure, it’s always good to have a couple of people proof read your media release before it goes out.

Keep it short and interesting. Journalists are often busy and see loads of media releases so it is important to make it as easy as possible for them to understand why your event is newsworthy.

Try to keep your language simple and avoid over-hyping your story. For instance, an art exhibition doesn’t have to feature the next Van Gogh to be newsworthy and interesting to local readers, so be enthusiastic but don’t exaggerate.

A great photograph can often help get a story published so let them know if there are photos available or they can take photos on the day.

Use quotes from interesting spokespeople. This can include prominent people from the local community, including those from local businesses and organisations that are supporting you. They could also be local people planning to attend, or any prominent people from the local community involved in the event itself. Remember to ask people why they think your event is going to be great for your community – it’s certainly an easy way to show your newsworthiness!

Each year we see some incredible, creative, exciting events happen during Mental Health Month, and we’ve featured a few of them here to inspire you!

Share it at Shoalhaven Heads

This is a festive event celebrating the wisdom of the elder years by incorporating contemporary performance practice. It will utilise the existing regular over 60’s Monday Social Hub attendees and the 60+ PERFORMANCE participants, as active hosts for the event. In short, the event, which welcomes the general community, will shine a light on some local everyday heroes and ask them to share their journey, advice and tips.

The Enemy Within

The Enemy Within is a two-day event of workshops and presentations delivered by Joe Williams – a former NRL player sharing his lived experience with mental health. Presentations will focus on connecting with the Indigenous community through the Wakagetti Dance Team based in Muswellbrook. They will also focus in suicide prevention and wellbeing education.

Art 4 Connection

Art 4 Connection Workshop & Creative Presentation is an event incorporating a ‘hands on’ workshop that will explore how art facilitates wellbeing, insight and healing through expression. The workshop will be facilitated by four specialist Art Therapists who work with individuals and local community groups with a diverse range of needs. It will also include presentations by all four art therapists which will provide the overarching framework and themes for the day. Morning tea and lunch will also be provided.

Misery Loves Company – Sharing the Darkness to Lighten the Load

‘Misery Loves Company – Sharing the Darkness to Lighten the Load’ by Waitling & Bates is an event showcasing a selection of original songs and covers that express feelings that are difficult to discuss. There will also be a short performance by two local artists living with anxiety and depression. The event will also include a shared dinner before the show. Standby Response, an organisation dedicated to supporting people and communities bereaved by suicide, will also present a talk about grief and grieving in rural communities and provide some self-care strategies.

Mind Your Art

The Mind Your Art Competition targets young people aged 12-25 in our local community by providing an opportunity to express themselves through art, while focusing on the importance of mental health and early intervention. This event will be held at the Glasshouse Port Macquarie which exhibits some of the best artists in the world. As a result, it offers our entrants a unique opportunity to exhibit their own works. An opening night will be held at the beginning of October. The exhibition will run for the whole month to raise mental health awareness and will be accessible to the whole community.

Pasifika – Be Young and Well

Pasifika – Be Young and Well is an event emphasising the importance of keeping well mentally and why it’s vital for young people to look after their mental health. We will include dancing and singing from the young people of the 5 different Pacific communities in between the talks from health professionals but also an NRL player of Pacific background. The program will be concluded with a panel Q&A and a lunch which will include healthy traditional food and drinks.

Batiba Guwiyal Healing and Cultural Renewal Workshop

Batiba Guwiyal Healing and Cultural Renewal Workshop’s includes three morning workshops held across three days based on healing and psychological empowerment that addresses the impacts of trans-generational trauma and domestic and sexual violence, through Yarning Circles, Aboriginal arts and cultural practices, expressive arts therapy, capacity building activities and trauma education. Workshops will also be open to all Aboriginal women in the community.

Pride Day

All ages LGBTIQA+ and straight allies event – Pride March and Fun Day in the Park. The purpose of the Pride March is to highlight and celebrate the diversity of the Central West community. It will hold floats of various organisations and businesses, such as Australian Post, banks, headspace Dubbo, Uniting and Community Members. The Fun Day in the park will involve various mental health stakeholders setting up stalls to provide information of relevant services, as well as activities for all ages including Zumba lessons, taekwondo sessions, face painting, jumping castle, speeches from members of the LGBTIQA+ community and live music.