{{ propApi.closeIcon }}
Our industry
Our industry $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Economic research and forecasting Economics Housing outlook Tailored market research Economic reports and data Inspiring Australia's building professionals HOUSING The only place to get your industry news Media releases Member alerts Submissions See all
Business support
Business support $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Become an apprentice host Hire an apprentice Why host a HIA apprentice? Apprentice partner program Builder and manufacturer program Industry insurance Construction legal expenses insurance Construction works insurance Home warranty insurance Tradies and tool insurance Planning and safety services Building and planning services How can HIA Safety help you? Independent site inspections Solutions for your business Contracts Online HIA Tradepass HIA SafeScan HR Docs Trusted legal support Legal advice and guidance Professional services Industrial relations
Resources & advice
Resources & advice $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Building it right Building codes Australian standards Getting it right on site See all Building materials and products Concrete, bricks and walls Getting products approved Use the right products for the job See all Managing your business Dealing with contracts Handling disputes Managing your employees See all Managing your safety Falls from heights Safety rules Working with silica See all Building your business Growing your business Maintaining your business See all Other subjects COVID-19 Getting approval to build Sustainable homes
Careers & learning
Careers & learning $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
A rewarding career Become an apprentice Apprenticeships on offer Hear what our apprentices say Advice for parents and guardians Study with us Find a course Get your builder's licence Learn with HIA
HIA community
HIA community $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Join HIA Sign me up How do I become a member? What's in it for me? Get involved Become an award judge Join a committee Partner with us Get to know us Our members Our people Our partners Mates rates What we do Mental health program Charitable Foundation GreenSmart
Awards & events
Awards & events $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Awards Australian Housing Awards Awards program National Conference Industry networking Events
HIA products
HIA products $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Shop @ HIA Digital Australian Standards Contracts Online Shipping and delivery Purchasing terms & conditions Products Building codes and standards Hard copy contracts Guides and manuals Safety and signage See all
About Contact Newsroom
$vuetify.icons.faTimes
$vuetify.icons.faMapMarker Set my location Use the field below to update your location
Address
Change location
{{propApi.title}}
{{propApi.text}} {{region}} Change location
{{propApi.title}}
{{propApi.successMessage}} {{region}} Change location

$vuetify.icons.faPhone1300 650 620

When the darkness ends

Anthea Comerford, 33, is a national training manager in the automotive industry, a published author and a speaker for Beyond Blue, but she nearly didn’t make it to 24.
{{ tag.label }} {{ tag.label }} $vuetify.icons.faTimes

There are dozens of popular sayings about finding the light at the end of the tunnel, but few resonate more than that of acclaimed film producer Stanley Kubrick who said: ‘however vast the darkness, we must supply our own light’.

After enduring a ten-year battle with her mental health, starting at the tender age of 14, Beyond Blue speaker and published author Anthea Comerford purposefully seeks out the light in each day and encourages others to do the same. 

Recalling what should have been some of the most carefree years of her life, she could be mistaken as describing an amusement park ride, saying her experiences with ‘anxiety and depression were of differing intensities, but always up and down, up and down’.

But it was nine years later, when she became suicidal, that she hit rock bottom.

Sarah O'Donovan

Content and Marketing Officer

‘There was no major trigger, it was just a downward spiral of not taking care of myself and not feeling great, and I kept going down, down, down,’ she says. ‘Rock bottom was [a feeling of having] no purpose, no drive, pure pain every moment of every day and wanting to be swallowed up and die.’

A full-time worker and student, the then 23-year-old found herself constantly turning down invitations, opting out of her volunteer work and becoming increasingly disconnected from the people around her.

She gradually stopped socialising, stopped attending events, and stopped calling people.

‘I didn’t want to engage at all. I was still going to work, but I’d switch off after that,’ Anthea says.

‘I was sleeping more than usual but had really low energy and didn’t understand why.’  She also began suffering from seemingly inexplicable muscle aches and pains.

On a neurological level, Anthea also noticed she had begun exhibiting obsessive compulsive behaviours.

‘I couldn’t understand it, I had very reactive, neurotic responses to things. I started to have some behavioural abnormalities where I had to do things in twos and double check everything to the nth degree.’

Speaking to Anthea, one thing is clear: she is incredibly self-aware. Unafraid of looking inward and listening to her body, she seeks out the hard truth of a problem in order to develop a solution.

‘I really dug deep and tried a million different things until I found the [ones] that worked,’ she says.

Just as there was no single trigger, there was no single solution.

‘Along with general dietary health, sport and hobbies, [what worked for me was] going through cognitive behavioural therapy with a psychologist, and going into personal and professional coaching. I had to become really accountable for my results and my performance.’

Anthea reveals it was then a matter of engaging with people and finding a purpose in the every day. ‘I had to show up, connect with people and be of value to a team,’ she says.

‘It was sometimes one step forward two steps back, other times it was two steps forward one step back, so it was an up and down journey. It took a good year to actually get traction, two years to really live, and four years until I was completely recovered.’

She knows as well as anyone that overcoming depression and anxiety can feel impossible, but Anthea is sharing her story to show others that even her darkest and most difficult years came to an end, as they will for others.

‘Now I live with no anxiety and no depression whatsoever. I love and enjoy life. [Recovery] is hard work, but every ounce of that hard work pays off. Life is easier now.’

Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Services

 Beyond Blue has launched a dedicated online platform to support all Australians in managing their mental health and wellbeing during the coronavirus pandemic. This platform includes information, advice and strategies, an online community forum and counselling services available 24/7.  

 A wealth of information is available for essential workers, those working from home, business owners and those who’ve lost work, as well as information on managing the changes in everyday life, such as staying active, connected and mentally well while spending most of your free time at home.

Managing mental wellbeing while staying home:

  • keep regular sleep routines and eat healthy foods
  • try to maintain physical activity
  • establish routines as best as possible and try to view this period as a new experience that can bring health benefits
  • avoid news and social media if you find it distressing.

Working from home or self-isolating:

  • create a separate office or workspace, if possible
  • move around every hour, and go outside once a day (if it’s responsible to do so)
  • keep connected to colleagues and communicate daily with your manager
  • set a work schedule for the day and stick to it.

Business owners:

  • maintain regular communication with your employees
  • keep staff up-to-date about your business’ response to the coronavirus outbreak
  • make sure your staff are aware of the support that is available to them (for example, if you have an Employee Assistance Program [EAP] in place)
  • if you’re concerned about a workmate, make sure to check in, have a conversation with them and encourage them to get the support they need.

If you’ve lost work:

  • be kind to yourself, this wasn’t your fault and unemployment isn’t permanent
  • connect with loved ones, colleagues and professionals to keep your mind busy and prevent yourself ruminating on the issue alone
  • reach out to Financial Counselling Australia for advice and support if you’re experiencing financial hardship
  • strive to do one ‘pleasure activity’ (such as watching your favourite show or gardening) and one ‘achievement activity’ (such as tidying up your CV or enrolling in an online course) each day. 

For more information visit www.coronavirus.beyondblue.org.au or speak to a Beyond Blue mental health professional by calling 1800 512 348.

HIA, in partnership with Beyond Blue, is making members’ mental health a priority, find more information about mental health in the construction.

GreenSmart Environment Sustainability
Green Guru
Janine Strachan, 2021 HIA Australian GreenSmart Professional award winner, looks at the shift in sustainable housing during her career and reveals why she’s so passionate about it.
Mar 22
7 min read
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Wellbeing Work Health and Safety (WHS) Mental health
Taking a stand
Sometimes our start in life can inhibit our ability to succeed. For one prime soccer player and business owner, he had to master his own direction to score goals - on his own terms.
Jan 22
8 min read
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Inspiration Innovation Social media
When instinct meets innovation
With his roots firmly locked in travel, tech and entrepreneurship, Gus Balbontin shares his business know-how following decades of work with companies both big and small. 
Feb 22
6 min read
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Inspiration Awards Construction
Taking care of business
As co-owner and office manager of Highwater Homes, Elizabeth Searle is enjoying a double celebration this year with her business’s 10-year anniversary and her win of the 2021 HIA Australian Business Partner award.
Dec 21
6 min read
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Business operations Construction Planning
Industry insiders
HOUSING spoke with our insiders about the issues that may affect the residential building industry as we move into 2021, and how they are navigating the impact of the pandemic.
Nov 20
10 min read
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Sustainability Inspiration Innovation
Race for zero waste
The building industry is responsible for over 40% of the waste created in Australia. One woman is transforming some of this waste into sustainable building products – welcome to the materials revolution. 
May 21
7 min read
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Design Inspiration
Wellbeing warrior
After overcoming mental illness and coping with the suicide of her plumber brother, this community nurse now supports and guides others who have mental health issues.
Aug 20
5 min read
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Design Inspiration
Dynamic duo
HIA’s new National President Alwyn Even and Vice-president Debbie Johnson are renowned for their business acumen but their passion for building.
Aug 21
5 min read
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Design Inspiration
Black book of secrets
Renowned for his daring designs, Sydney architect Scott Weston reveals inside tips to help builders, designers and craftspeople work together seamlessly. Photos: Nicholas Watt
Aug 21
5 min read
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Design Construction Innovation
Open and agile
HIA award-winning interior designer Jasmine McClelland is one to take new challenges, pursuing her creative flair all the way into a housing industry.
Nov 20
5 min read
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Inspiration Human Relations (HR)
Disarming depression
When Jake's father died in a workplace accident, the tragic loss marked the beginning of his descent into despondency and depression. Jake shares his experience and inspirational journey to recovery.
Apr 21
6 min read
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Construction Planning Inspiration
Master of illusion
How does a design professional go about creating a custom home with liveable solutions? For Robert Kirkovski of Rural Building Co, it’s all about flexible thinking to create a forever space.
Feb 21
4 min read
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Sustainability Environment
Green for the mainstream
How do you plan and build an affordable, water-wise, energy-efficient home? Environmental scientist and media professional Dr Josh Byrne has the right green guide to help.
Feb 21
6 min read
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Residential
A cut above the rest
Monique Juratovac threw convention out the window when she signed up for a bricklaying apprenticeship. Despite the naysayers, she is determined to carve out her own path in the construction industry.
Feb 21
5 min read
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Innovation Construction Staffing
Industry Insiders
With 2022 approaching, five industry leaders look at the complex issues and challenges affecting our members now – and in the future. 
Dec 21
7 min read
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight