Mental health focus as hero, comic join

Jackson Lavell-LeeBusselton Dunsborough Times
Craig Challen preparing for a 200m dive in Da-Xing spring, Guangxi Province, China 2015.
Camera IconCraig Challen preparing for a 200m dive in Da-Xing spring, Guangxi Province, China 2015. Credit: Picture: Heather Endall

Thailand cave hero and joint-Australian of the Year Craig Challen will join doctor and comedian Ahmed Kazmi for the Lishman Health Foundation’s fundraiser for mental health research at Voyager Estate tomorrow night.

Dr Challen said he would be speaking about his experiences in the Thailand caves and was excited to get back to Margaret River as a passionate West Aussie.

“After this rather unanticipated change in my life (being named Australian of the year) I have the new-found opportunity to help make a difference,” he said.

“My talk will include snippets and insights about the rescue and what it took mentally.”

Lishman Health Foundation chief executive Dianne Ritson said the fundraiser was aimed at educating doctors in the region to balance their work and mental health.

“It is rare that we have an Australian of the year visit Margaret River, and for such a great cause it will be a great night,” she said.

UK doctor-turned-comedian Kazmi has sold out fringe festival shows around the world and joked it wasn’t until several patients told him he should be a comedian that he decided to give it a go.

“By its nature, medicine tends to be quite an emotional job, which is helpful in performance art — both require a high level of empathy and humour,” he said.

West Australian patients tended to be more informal than in the UK and valued a funny degree of honesty, Dr Kazmi said.

“People can be crying or frightened so I make them giggle to dissipate the tension,” he said.

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