Quality Wool embraces positive mental health with new program

Naval veteran and Invictus Games competitor Chris Pitman (far left) and Stewart McCully (third from left), Next Level Elite Mentoring, with Quality Wool staff Peter Ryan, Graham Duffield, Simon Seppelt, Vallon Gibson, Troy Harrington and Lawrence Seal at the company’s headquarters in Adelaide.

More than ever mental health and wellbeing has become a major issue for people in the rural industry and wider community, but a new program is hoping to give people the opportunity to talk about their own experiences.

Decorated Navy veteran and Invictus Games competitor Chris Pitman recently spoke with a group of staff from wool broker, Quality Wool, as part of the company’s new leadership program.

The program is being facilitated by Next Level Elite Mentoring’s Stewart McCully and is set to be extended across the Quality group of businesses.

Chris helped shined a light on the power of resilience, determination and the will to remain unconquered’ in the face of adversity.

Discharging from the Royal Australian Navy 12 years ago after two decades of service, including multiple deployments to Iraq, Chris left the military nursing both physical and mental scars that eventually manifested into Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), anxiety and depression.

After encouragement from a friend, he found an outlet in the sport of cycling, initially using it to regain fitness and focus before setting his sights on a bigger goal – representing Australia at the Invictus Games, a multi-national sporting event for wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women founded by Prince Harry.

Overcoming the disappointment of missing selection for the 2017 Invictus Games in Toronto, Canada, Chris realised his dream 12 months later when he represented his country in cycling and indoor rowing at the 2018 Games in Sydney.

He told the Quality Wool group the Invictus Games had not only given him a sense of purpose and pride again, but also the opportunity to be part of a team and to experience the camaraderie he had missed so much since discharging from the military.

Quality Wool’s Kane McKay said the group walked away better equipped to overcome obstacles both professionally and personally, and were in complete admiration of Chris’ sheer will to not be defeated by the adversity he had faced.

“With parts of Australia currently enduring a prolonged drought, it’s easy for us in the agricultural sector to feel like the sky is falling in at the moment,” Kane said.

“Chris’ story and experiences not only provide a healthy dose of perspective for us, but also demonstrate that you can overcome anything with the power of the mind, even in the darkest of times.”

Quality Wool Managing Director Mark Dyson said mental health was one of the biggest social issues at all levels of society today and particularly in the rural industry due to some of the conditions being faced and isolation, affecting people both at home and in the workplace.

“Rural advisers are talking with producers every day and assisting them in their businesses, and we aim to support our team with that the best way we can,” Mark said.

“It is vital that we provide the back-up to our staff who are working with these people right at the coalface. Although people are in rural isolation, they are not alone.

“Next Level Elite Mentoring offers a fantastic program and has connected our team with people and real-life experiences that inspire and help to build resilience.

“We know in the rural industry that we will continue to face adversity, but the power of positivity and coming together to support each other can help us overcome those challenges.”