6 May 2024

Canberra gears up to get their gear off for mental health awareness

| Jacqueline Lyons
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Men standing behind a poster for the Winter Solstice Swim

Carrie Leeson, Peter Lindeman, David Windeyer and Ben Johnston are excited for Canberra to bare all for mental health in 2024. Image: Lifeline

On the shortest day of the year, Canberrans are gearing up to take their gear off to raise awareness for mental health and money for Lifeline Canberra.

Hundreds of people are already registered to ‘bare their all’ and strip down for an ‘ice bath session’ at Lake Burley Griffin on 21 June when the temperatures are expected to be well below zero.

CEO for Lifeline Canberra Carrie Leeson says dipping into the water on the coldest morning of the year is a great way to highlight the importance of understanding mental health issues.

“People literally show their vulnerability by stripping down and running into the water and it really is a true symbol of what it means to take ownership of your own mental health,” Carrie says.

“It’s a great way of expressing yourself but also freeing yourself of any problems you might be having.

“It takes a lot of courage to do it – it takes a similar sort of courage to talk about your mental health.”

Men standing behind a poster for the Winter Solstice Swim

Happy to get their gear off for a good cause, the boys are ready to go. Photo: Lifeline.

Carrie has been part of Lifeline Canberra for over a decade and considers the role a privilege.

“The years have flown by, really. I started as a volunteer board member on the crisis hotline and loved it, and after a while, I decided I wanted to do more,” Carrie says.

“I was a volunteer on the phones 15 years ago before I stepped in as CEO, and it has been an absolute dream of mine to help in any way I can.”

“My undergrad degree at university was in psychology so to be able to use those skills I learnt to help people has just been fantastic.”

READ ALSO Ian Lindeman remembered as ‘brrrrave’ swimmers prepare to bare all in winter solstice Lifeline fundraiser

The Canberra swim started in 2017 with five brave participants bearing the cold to raise money and awareness for cancer and mental health. One of the original five participants was Ian Linderman.

Ian lost his battle with liver cancer two years later but always wanted to raise money for the less fortunate, and now his brother Peter is more determined than ever to keep the legacy going.

“There was a nude swim in Hobart back in 2016, and he decided he wanted to bring the idea to Canberra,” Peter says.

“It’s a symbolic way of washing away all negativity as we head into the colder months.”

READ ALSO Are the wind turbines at Lake George messing with the BOM’s weather radar?

In its first swim, the group managed to bring in around $12,000. Since then, the numbers have only increased, raising more than $200,000 for the Ian Lindeman Memorial Solstice Swim, which has been made possible by the Old Canberra Inn and other sponsors.

Old Canberra Inn owner Ben Johnston says he and his team have loved taking part in the event.

“We joined when it started back in the day and have loved being able to contribute to so many worthy charities over the past few years,” Ben says.

One hundred per cent of all donations received in the 2024 swim will be paid directly to Lifeline.

The swim will be taking place on 21 June at 7:12 am. Registrations and donations can be made via Winter Solstice Swim.

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