Painted posts spark discussion around feeling blue

An HSC student has used a colourful idea to raise awareness around mental health and wellbeing.

Image: Year 12 student Khloe Favero and Year 10 helper Chelsea Mahon paint a vibrant message in the Murrumbidgee Regional High School ag plot. Photo: Courtesy of Area News.

Living in the small Riverina town of Goolgowi, Khloe Favero knows only too well how heavily drought, water issues, rural uncertainties and the fear of COVID-19 can weigh on those around her.

She has also seen the additional stress this year has brought on her fellow Year 12 students at Murrumbidgee Regional High School in Griffith.

With the knowledge that clamming up and burying feelings when things are getting you down can be self-destructive, Khloe was determined to tame the ‘black dog’ and get tongues wagging about mental health.

She decided to bring the Blue Tree Project into her school as way of encouraging her fellow students to open up to others to talk about their mental health and wellbeing.

“I want them to know it’s okay to not feel okay,” Khloe said.

"It’s been a hard time for the region with drought and things like that.

“I really would just like to show people that it is OK to talk about their mental health and wellbeing.”

With the support of the school’s agriculture teacher Carl Chirgwin, Khloe and a team of student helpers painted more than 20 fence posts in the school’s ag plot a vivid shade of blue as a vibrant reminder that people care and are ready to listen.

Fittingly, the task was completed in time for R U OK?Day earlier this month.

Murrumbidgee Regional High School executive principal Peter King was thrilled by the response to Khloe’s initiative.

“Turning the ag plot blue on R U OK?Day has made our students aware of the importance of opening a conversation with their friends about mental health,” Mr King said.

“In the same way that these colours are distinctive and conspicuous it is vital that we are open and up front about the need for us to care for each other and to look after each other.”

Mr King said it was wonderful to see his students demonstrate that care for others was at the forefront of the school’s values.

This week, 10 Year 10 and 12 students will shave their heads as a fundraiser for Country Hope, a local charity providing emotional and financial support to those battling cancer and other chronic diseases.

“I am very proud of my students,” Mr King said.

“It demonstrates our students continue to think of how to support others even as they go though the most challenging year of their lives."

Education Minister Sarah Mitchell has announced the NSW Government will build on its commitment to provide mental health support in schools, training up to 328 people to join the school counselling workforce between 2020 and 2023.

Read the media release.

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