607 laps: Pāmu Farms of New Zealand encourage people to 'Move It' for mental health

607 laps: Pāmu Farms of New Zealand encourage people to 'Move It' for mental health

Losing just one life to suicide would be too many, let alone more than 600, says Pamu Farms of New Zealand regional business manager Kathryn Broomfield.

On Friday, Pamu invited staff and locals to Move It at Owen Delany Park.

Throughout the day, participants helped accumulate 607 laps of the athletic track loop to represent the 607 lives lost to suicide between July 2020 and June 2021.

Some walked, some ran, some biked and some wore costumes – all with the goal of raising awareness and starting conversations about mental health.

“We’re coming together to talk about mental health, the big idea is just to get everyone together, on the same page, and show them that here at Pamu we don’t judge anybody, whether they’re having a good day or a bad day,” Kathryn says.

Originally hoping to get about 200 people to the event, precautions had to be taken for Covid-19, meaning people will head to Owen Delany Park for their laps in different time slots and people outside the region will join in from home and stay connected via social media.

“Mental health is a challenge in every industry, but we’re in an industry that’s tough. We can’t control the weather, we can’t control commodity prices, so there are good years and bad years.

“I think we do a really good job of trying to support our people but we can always do more. I think when you create an open space you can be surprised by what comes out.

“We’ve done a few events like this before and we’ve had new people every time. They get this comfort that people care about them and they’re not judging. It’s great for people just to get off the farm and see other people as well.”

Pamū Farms business manager Jason Halford, who manages six dairy farms just north of Taupō, walked laps at Owen Delany Park in a full Santa costume.

He knows all about pressure, having suffered from burnout as a self-employed sharemilker, and has taken steps to improve his own mental health.

“I’ve had a journey, there have been some tough times and challenges, but, at the same time, Movember is a great time to start the conversation about men’s mental health. There’s always someone new to talk to.”

Jason, who is sporting an impressive handlebar moustache, says even simply wearing the extra facial hair in November has led to greater awareness.

“I absolutely hate having a mo, I’m not against them, it just doesn’t suit my kind of brief. But having a mo has made it very easy to have a conversation, I was at the dentist the other day and we had a great conversation about why I’ve got a mo, mental health and how important it is.

“If that person then talks to someone else about it, we’re starting a big line of people who are talking about mental health. Wearing a mo makes me very conscious of my appearance, but imagine having mental health and feeling you can’t talk about. Me having a mo for one month or walking laps today is nothing compared to what some people are going through.”

WHERE TO GET HELP
■ Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
■ Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
■ Youth services: (06) 3555 906
■ Youthline: 0800 376 633
■ Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
■ Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
■ Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
■ Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155
■ Helpline: 1737
■ If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111

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