On Wednesday some friends and I hosted a small Lunch Out Loud event at our local, family-friend Bistro with a group of friends and their children.
Lunch Out Loud is a new initiative by PANDA (Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia) to raise awareness and funds to support and educate the community about Perinatal Depression and Anxiety.
PANDA is a national Perinatal Depression helpline, it’s funded by the Australian and Victorian Government, and provides support, information, referral and counselling to thousands of Australians and their families every year.
Even though Perinatal Depression and Anxiety Awareness Week was last week, these Lunch Out Loud events can take place any time during November and December.
To host your own event is really easy! Simply:
- Set a time and date – work out a time and day that’ll suit you and your guests.
- Invite guests and choose a venue – at home, at a cafe, restaurant, workplace, etc.
- Use Social Media – Facebook Events can be a handy way to keep everyone in the loop about plans, and also help promote “Lunch Out Loud” to your friends and followers.
- Collect funds – you can accept donations, or more creatively fundraise (raffles, bake sales etc). We simply directed our guests to donate directly to PANDA following this link which we shared in the Facebook event.
- Have fun! – It’s a great opportunity to just have a chat, and catch up with friends!
PANDA have a lot of great table decorations to print out to set the theme for your Lunch Out Loud event, and it also might be a good idea to print out some handy fact sheets as possible conversation starters and just to spread some useful information about Perinatal Depression and Anxiety.
At our event after we’d eaten our lunch and the children were all busy playing in the playground we went around the table and shared a little bit about ourselves and our own experiences with anxiety and depression – nobody had to share if they didn’t want to, though in the end everyone did have something they wanted to add to the discussion.
It was amazing to the shift in the conversation after everyone had shared, it became more open, honest and also more relaxed. Things we wouldn’t necessarily say out loud came easily, in whole group discussions, or a little side chats around the table.
I was surprised and delighted by how readily people shared, and I think that goes to show that people do really want to talk about their experiences, whether it’s what’s currently going on for them now, or something that has happened in the past, and we often don’t the opportunity to talk openly and honestly about mental health and general difficulties as parents. So, that was a big positive for me about organising the Lunch Out Loud.
If this sounds like something you’d enjoy, or benefit from, or you’d simply like to support and raise money for an amazing organisation like PANDA, that I’d highly recommend hosting your own Lunch Out Loud Event.