SPOT: works to educate its community about mental health resources

Suicide Prevention Outreach Tuatapere distributed fridge magnets so the community could easily find mental health resources.

Robyn Edie / Stuff

Suicide Prevention Outreach Tuatapere distributed fridge magnets so the community could easily find mental health resources.

With a population of just over 500, Tuatapere, around 80km from Invercargill, is “incredibly tight-knit”.

So when someone struggles with mental health issues, it can spill over into the community.

When Loretta Tilby saw the emotional impact this was having on her wider community, she realized “something had to be done” to make sure people knew where and how to get help.

The Suicide Prevention and Outreach Tuatapare (SPOT) Trust, launched in August, will do just that.

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The trust was born after a community hui hosted by Tilby, her friend Kaylene Bennett and Tuatapare Community Support Worker Keri Potter.

The small community has felt the devastating effects of alleged suicides in recent years, as many other communities have sadly done, Tilby said.

“Having personally seen the effects of pain and devastation this can bring to a family as I lost a brother-in-law to suicide, I knew something had to be done to help our community, educate, support and provide a “gateway” to anyone in need.”

Loretta Tilby, left, and SPOT committee member Alice Harris say they are not mental health professionals,

Robyn Edie / Stuff

Loretta Tilby, left, and SPOT committee member Alice Harris say they are not mental health professionals, ‘just a community that cares and wants to support each other’

More than 30 people, including the directors of the two schools in the city, attended the meeting.

The group reached out to Ngā Kete Mātauranga Pounamu Charitable Trust and WellSouth to help them develop a plan to educate the community about available resources and encourage them to communicate and connect.

“Mental health services have always been there, this is just the next avenue to promote them,” Tilby said.

It was quite important to her to put the word suicide in the name of the trust “because it’s quite taboo, and we don’t talk about it at all, and we have to talk about it,” she said.

“I think for a very, very long time you wouldn’t talk about such things, and it doesn’t work, it doesn’t help people.”

The group wants to make it clear that they are not mental health professionals, but encourage conversations about mental health and are able to refer people to the appropriate professionals.

In the future, they would like to provide financial support to those seeking to access mental health services.

“Especially with the environment we’re living in right now, we’re going to see more peaks in people [needing support]so we want to make sure it’s accessible.

Breakfast

The health minister says investment in primary care services means less attention has been given to people with acute illnesses. First published April 21, 2022.

Kōrari Māori Public Health Service official Karina Davis-Marsden said Ngā Kete was proud of the mahi the SPOT team was doing for her community.

Tuatapere is in the takiwā of Ōraka Aprima Rūnaka and Ngā Kete Matauranga Pounamu Charitable Trust is the mandated health and social services provider for Ōraka Aparima.

“What was really important for this rōpu is that they recognized that there is a need within their community to respond to whakamomori. [suicide]and trained a group of key leaders and community connectors,” Davis-Marsden said.

WellSouth Suicide Prevention and Postvention Coordinator Rochelle Francis invited other Southlanders to contact them if they needed help tackling mental health in their communities.

Rochelle Francis of WellSouth says network coordinators are available to help communities plan safe events to address mental health challenges. [File photo]

Robyn Edie / Stuff

Rochelle Francis of WellSouth says network coordinators are available to help communities plan safe events to address mental health challenges. [File photo]

WellSouth hoped to stay connected to the group’s activities and support them to improve mental wellbeing and resilience in Tuatapere, Francis said.

For Tilby, all that matters is for people in her community to talk about mental health.

“If we help a person, we have done what we wanted to do.”

WHERE TO GET HELP:

  • 1737, Need to talk? – Call for free or text 1737 to speak to a qualified advisor
  • Depression.org.nz – 0800 111 757 or SMS 4202
  • Lifeline – 0800 543 354
  • Suicide Crisis Helpline – 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)
  • Kidsline – 0800 54 37 54 for people up to 18 years old. Open 24/7.
  • Youthline – 0800 376 633, free text 234, email talk@youthline.co.nz, or find live chat and other support options here.
  • Rural Support Trust – 0800 787 254
  • Samaritans – 0800 726 666
  • What’s Up – 0800 942 8787 (for ages 5-18). Telephone consultation available Monday to Friday, 12 p.m. to 11 p.m. and weekends, 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. Online chat is available every day from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m.
  • thelowdown.co.nz – Web Chat, Email Chat or Free Text 5626
  • Anxiety New Zealand – 0800 ANXIETY (0800 269 4389)
  • Support for families with mental illness – 0800 732 825.

If this is an emergency, click here to find your local Crisis Assessment Team number. In case of life danger, call 111.

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