Sunshine and hope is being sprinkled through companies and organisations today as many in Taranaki take part in the Paint the Town Yellow promotion.
The initiative will see staff dressed in yellow, taking part in barbecue lunches, doing yellow bake offs or wearing yellow ribbons.
Sue Martin, a Tui Ora health promoter, is thrilled at the strong interest shown with colleagues at Tui Ora backing the promotion (see picture above).
Among those signed up are the Department of Corrections, South Taranaki District Council, Fitzroy Engineering, Pinnacle Health, Downers Construction, Supporting Families with Mental Illness and some GP clinics as well as Zumba crew Team Azucar who are holding "Paint the town yellow" Zumbar classes for the week.
Proceeds will go to Taranaki Retreat on the outskirts of New Plymouth, a place that accommodates individuals and whānau dealing with suicide and other related issues.
Liz Fry who has volunteered at the Retreat after dealing with her own issues around depression, co-dependency and alcohol abuse, says the set up on the rural property is something that has to be felt and experienced.
"It is through those dark times where you don't feel understood or even recognise or understand yourself that the Retreat comes in as a beacon of hope. It literally is a space to breathe. A place to be surrounded in love and respect and to be reminded that people do care about you. You do have a place on this Earth."
Having struggled herself, Liz says it helps her to relate to those she is supporting and show that there is a way through and you can really start loving life again.
Sue Martin says yellow represents hope, and hope is a vital for whānau and individuals.
"We want people to commit to life. To connect and talk to others is the key to getting us through. There is always someone who can help, and all of us – friends, peers, work colleagues, neighbours, professionals – have a part to play."
Occupational health nurses (OHN) say there is growing awareness of mental wellness and suicide prevention among the employers and employees they work with.
Kathleen Clement, OHN at Fitzroy Engineering who represents her industry body on the Taranaki Suicide Prevention Group, says occupational nurses undertake professional development that includes topics around mental health and wellbeing.
"It's something that we are all aware of. We complete medical assessments, often at the workplace, supporting workers to understand the health risks they face at work.
"Ensuring good mental health is an important part of the overall health picture. It might not even be the individual, but a family member or a work colleague that they need support for."
Kathleen says when it comes to talking to males, (those traditionally regarded as being less open), sometimes it's knowing the right questions to ask and not being scared to begin the conversation.
"I do find that if I start the conversation and lead people into it, that they will open up. Just saying – would you like to tell me how you are? - I have noticed you are not so happy - is there something I can help you with?"
Businesses, organisations and schools interested in selling the yellow ribbons to help with the fundraising are asked to contact Sue Martin, health promoter, Tui Ora, firstname.lastname@example.org, ph. 759 4064 or 027
For queries about the work of New Zealand Occupational Health Nurses (OHN) Association – Taranaki or to interview the nurses, contact Kathleen Clement 64 6 759 5252 | DDI: +64 6 759 5275 | MOB: +64 27 703 3346
Members of the Taranaki Suicide Prevention Group include: Tui Ora, Supporting Families in Mental Illness, Progress to Health, Rural Support Taranaki, Victim Support, NP Injury Safe, New Zealand Occupational Health Nurses Association – Taranaki, Taranaki Retreat, Mental Health NZ as well as a number of counsellors.