By NZISM Secretary
Kia ora koutou members and supporters. This update is written with a mixture of sadness and pride. I received a message from a member last weekend to advise they had been in the depths of despair and had been contemplating suicide. My heart sank with the news, and I immediately called our member, who will remain anonymous but who has given permission to tell a small part of their story.
After listening for some time and feeling eternally grateful for the opportunity to speak directly to them, rather than offer eulogies, I heard about the incredible support they received from members who had noticed something wasn’t quite right and reached out directly to connect. They were our Peer Support Committee member Britta Badenhorst, Chair of our ESL Network Gareth Beck, and Oliver Sanandres. They had noticed a change in a friend and were concerned enough for their safety to bravely reach out. This act of kindness has meant we are not grieving the loss of a fellow member, and I am incredibly grateful and extremely proud.
Britta told me the reason she was able to recognise the signs was due to the mental wellbeing webinar series NZISM is running and the knowledge that is being shared by Michael Hempseed, as well as her committee involvement within NZISM. Gareth attended training last year and was able to use the knowledge learned to support his friend. Their simple act enabled someone to receive the help they needed before it was too late. It also allowed me to tell this member how valued and respected they were. These were words I had not had the chance to say to a friend a long time ago and being gifted the opportunity to say them to someone who needed to hear them was a genuine blessing. We know the journey is not over for this member. Getting this far down a dark road isn’t resolved by switching on a light, but they have heard the voice of people who care and have been guided to the professional help that they need to start the journey back.
I am telling this story because Britta, Gareth and Oli deserve to be recognised for their role in this person getting the help they need, and we all need a reminder to keep an eye out on the people around us. When someone is acting out of character, if you can see a change that causes concern or if something simply doesn’t feel right, don’t hesitate to reach out, to ask the question; "are you OK?" You could save a life, it means that much. To learn more about how to reach out to someone you are concerned about check out these resources at ruok.org
When you are part of an organisation like NZISM, you are surrounded by people who care about you. We have so many avenues where help is available: via the Peer Support network, your local Branch Manager or Committee members, the Senior Leadership Team, or our ESL or WISE networks. Please also know if you would like to chat, I'm only a phone call away on 0220 290 313.
I hope you all know how important you are, how valued your contribution is, and how many people care about you.
Noho ora mai,