NZ Hike for Life- Te Araroa

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I will be hiking the length the NZ along the Te Araroa Trail for mental health and suicide awareness.

I'm doing this because a little under 2 years ago in August of 2017, I lost one of my very closest mates to Suicide. The most witty, intelligent and caring mate one could ever hope for. I recall the emotion of that moment as I stood alongside two of my friends, who were also there at the time. Amidst the confusion, disbelief and shock was an instant and overwhelming sense of painful regret. Regret that I hadn’t clued myself in on the symptoms of mental illness and the urgency to act. Although there were a few obvious signs of discontent in the months prior, I was mostly naïve and ultimately overlooked the potential severity of such (in hindsight) anxious and depressive symptoms. Please give time to educate yourself on the signs of mental destress. Be alert to symptoms such as social withdrawal, irritability, demotivation and a lack of interest in day to day activities (some signs I saw in Eddie), among many others, which you can and should view in more detail here: https://www.helpguide.org/articles/depression/depression-symptoms-and-warning-signs.htm

Learning of my sister experiencing the same tragedy with respect to one of her friends just a few months later further emphasised to me how much of a glaringly obvious and pressing issue the state of mental health is amongst young kiwis. The prevalence of mental illness in young kiwis is disturbingly high. Too many people are battling their demons alone. A huge reason for this is an apprehension to reach out due to the stigma attached to having a mental illness. I saw it in Eddie, and I continue to see it in others all the time. I want to contribute to breaking down the stigma barrier and do my bit to normalise open and honest conversations about what’s ruminating in one’s mind. Experiencing mental illness at some point in our young lives is so common. We must support each other, be empathetic, understand that it is okay to feel this way. Whether it’s a matter of weeks, months or years, things eventually get back on track with time and it's so crucial that we do not allow each other to get trapped in the dangerous bubble of isolation while one is at their low point. Have an honest conversation. Listen. Don’t allow someone suffering to push you away and further isolate themselves. Talk with their friends or family about it. Ensure that they are receiving appropriate help. Your alertness and compassion might just pull someone through their darkest time.

In honour of Eddie, Issy and all those that have and currently are struggling with mental illness, as of the end of November 2019 I will be hiking the Te Araroa trail, a 3000km NZ thru-hike which starts at Cape Reinga and extends the length of the country to finish up at Bluff. It will take approximately 5 months to complete and I will be campaigning for the Mental Health Foundation and the Life Matters Suicide Prevention Trust along the way. I’m a huge believer in the positive effect the outdoors has on one’s mind and I intend on spreading this message as far as possible through embarking on this journey.

My ultimate goal is to maximise the awareness of mental illness prevalence amongst young Kiwis, while stamping out the stigma associated with it. In conjunction, I’d love to raise as much money as possible with all donations going to either the Mental Health Foundation or the Life Matters- Suicide Prevention Trust to sustain and improve their work in this area. Donations enable the foundations to provide free information to boost awareness, implement mental health programmes, and improve effective suicide prevention. It’s going to be a team effort to turn this thing around but I believe that we can and we will.

Please contribute to my fundraiser! Every single donation is so highly appreciated!

For those also wishing to donate to the Mental Health Foundation please follow this link: https://events.mentalhealth.org.nz/fundraisers/jonohartland/hiking-the-te-araroa-trail-for-mental-health

Every little bit counts :)

Keep up with the journey here: https://www.instagram.com/NZ_hike_for_life_te_araroa/

Jono Hartland's involvement (page creator)

I am walking the length of NZ for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention.

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