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Spotlight on rural mental health

by Murray Robertson

THE nationwide Speak Up tour comes to Tairawhiti next Saturday, with inspirational local and national speakers discussing how to get through tough times, individually and as a community.

Supported by Beef and Lamb New Zealand, the tour by the Will to Live organisation addresses the topic of depression and suicide in rural New Zealand.

“It is higher than any other demographic and has a lasting ripple effect through a community — especially with our young people, who are often the largest statistic,” a tour spokesperson said.

Will to Live was formed as a charitable foundation to provide ongoing awareness and education through touring the regions and targeting vulnerable young rural New Zealanders who are often isolated from essential mental health services.

Elle Perriam, founder of Will to Live, lost her partner, a North Otago shepherd, to suicide in 2017.

She is determined to spread a positive message of gratitude to encourage resilience, using her late partner’s huntaway, Jess, as a symbolic reminder of the need to speak up collectively.

Ms Perriam, Jess and many inspirational local and national speakers will host the informal evening talk, offering tips on getting through tough times on your own, when you might not be near support networks.

The speakers would also address “how to navigate the storms together as a community”, Ms Perriam said.

Farm dogs will take part in a “bark up” and there will be a moment of silence for those who have lost the battle with depression.

“As part of the event, there will be supper and entertainment, and a charity auction will take place thanks to the kind generousity of businesses in your local community, with all funds going to the ongoing work of Will to Live.”

The local contacts for the event are Nikki Barbarich-Waikari from Farming Woman Tairawhiti, 027 208 782, and Gisborne Young Farmers’ Troye Hudepohl, 021 023 54397.

Tickets cost $10.

SPEAK UP: Will to Live founder Elle Perriam and others will present tips on weathering tough times when the Speak Up tour comes to Patutahi Hall next Saturday. File picture