Campaign takes plunge to raise awareness

Participants prepare to dive into Lake Wakatipu at yesterday's Polar Plunge in Queenstown. Photos...
Participants prepare to dive into Lake Wakatipu at yesterday's Polar Plunge in Queenstown. Photos: Daisy Hudson
About 30 Queenstown people braved the cold and took the plunge to raise awareness of mental health yesterday.

Dressed in fluoro colours, they heard from guest speakers about the R U OK? campaign before diving into the icy depths of Lake Wakatipu.

Organiser Ryan Morris said the R U OK? campaign started in Australia, and was a way to let people know it's OK to ask for help.

"It's one day, whether it's only one out of 365 in the year, to let people know it's OK to not be OK.

"I came from Sydney and I saw quite a negative scene in hospitality. Personally I've been in hospitality for 10 years and just saw that people having long days, rough hours, bad experiences, potentially turned to drugs and alcohol, and just depression overall.

"Things spiralled out of control with people not having money."

Feeling the cold while taking a dip.
Feeling the cold while taking a dip.
He said he wanted to come to New Zealand to get away, get to the mountains and get a "breath of fresh air".

But when he got here, he said, he found the hospitality industry had many of the same issues.

"With this trend there wasn't much of an outlet in Queenstown for it, so wanting to bring this fluoro Fridays and R U OK? mentality to let people know there are people who want to listen."

Returning to shore.
Returning to shore.

The freezing water had attendees sprinting back to the safety of the shore after their dip.

"It's so cold, but it's for a good cause," one woman said.

Where to get help in NZ

Suicide/depression related

Healthline: 0800 611 116

Lifeline Aotearoa: 0800 543 354

Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)

Samaritans: 0800 726 666

Alcohol Drug Helpline: 0800 787 797

General mental health inquiries: 0800 44 33 66

The Depression Helpline: 0800 111 757

 

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