SPOT: working to educate its community about mental health resources

Suicide Prevention Outreach Tuatapere have been handing out fridge magnets, so the community can easily find mental health resources.

Robyn Edie/Stuff

Suicide Prevention Outreach Tuatapere have been handing out fridge magnets, so the community can easily find mental health resources.

With a population of slightly more than 500, Tuatapere, about 80km from Invercargill, is “incredibly tight-knit”.

So when someone is struggling with mental health challenges, it can ripple through the community.

When Loretta Tilby saw the emotional impact this was having on her wider community she realised “something needed 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 came about after a community hui organised by Tilby, her friend Kaylene Bennett and Tuatapare community support worker Keri Potter.

The small community had felt the devastating effects of suspected suicides during the past few years as many other communities sadly have, Tilby said.

“After personally seeing the effects of the hurt and devastation this can bring to a family as I have lost a brother-in-law to suicide, I knew that something needed to be done to help our community, to educate, to support and to provide a “gateway” for anyone in need.”

Loretta Tilby, left, and SPOT committee member Alice Harris say they aren’t mental health professionals, “just a community that cares and wants to support each other”.

Robyn Edie/Stuff

Loretta Tilby, left, and SPOT committee member Alice Harris say they aren’t mental health professionals, “just a community that cares and wants to support each other”.

More than 30 people, including the principals of both schools in the town, 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 the resources available and to encourage them to communicate and connect.

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

It was quite important for her to put the word suicide in the trust’s name “because it’s quite taboo, and quite not talked about, and it needs to be talked about”, she said.

“I think for a long, long time you wouldn’t talk about such things, and it’s not working, it’s not helping people.”

The group want to make it clear that they are not mental health professionals, but are encouraging conversations around mental health and are able to refer people to appropriate professionals.

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

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

Breakfast

The Health Minister says investment in primary care services has meant less focus has been put on those with acute illnesses. First published April 21, 2022.

Kōrari Māori public Health service manager Karina Davis-Marsden said Ngā Kete was proud of the mahi the SPOT team was doing for its community.

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

“What has been really important for this rōpu is they have recognised there is a need within their community to respond to whakamomori [suicide], and formulated a group from key leaders and community connectors,” Davis-Marsden said.

WellSouth suicide prevention and postvention coordinator Rochelle Francis invited other Southlanders to reach out if they needed help tackling mental health in their communities.

WellSouth’s Rochelle Francis says the network’s coordinators are available to help communities plan safe events to tackle mental health challenges. [File photo]

Robyn Edie/Stuff

WellSouth’s Rochelle Francis says the network’s coordinators are available to help communities plan safe events to tackle mental health challenges. [File photo]

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

For Tilby, all that matters is that people in her community are talking about mental health.

“If we help one person then we’ve done what we wanted to do.”

WHERE TO GET HELP:

  • 1737, Need to talk? – Free call or text 1737 to talk to a trained counsellor
  • Depression.org.nz – 0800 111 757 or text 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 [email protected], or find online chat and other support options here.
  • Rural Support Trust – 0800 787 254
  • Samaritans – 0800 726 666
  • What’s Up – 0800 942 8787 (for 5–18 year olds). Phone counselling available Monday-Friday, noon–11pm and weekends, 3pm–11pm. Online chat is available 3pm–10pm daily.
  • thelowdown.co.nz – Web chat, email chat or free text 5626
  • Anxiety New Zealand – 0800 ANXIETY (0800 269 4389)
  • Supporting Families in Mental Illness – 0800 732 825.

If it is an emergency click here to find the number for your local crisis assessment team. In a life-threatening situation call 111.

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