It’s a rare occasion when the front page of this newspaper breaks so completely with tradition as it does today.
Over the centuries, the presence of advertising on the front has come and gone and come again. But it’s highly unusual for any title to alter the position of its masthead — in our case the Herald “H” — and the way it’s used.
Today we do so for one of the most compelling reasons we can imagine — as part of our ongoing attempts to promote change in the way New Zealanders think about and tackle mental health, with a view to ongoing and sustainable reduction in our lamentable suicide statistics.
The provisional number of suicides for 2018/19 will likely be released by the Chief Coroner in the next few weeks. After a fourth consecutive annual increase, the figure for the year to June 30, 2018 was a record 668.
Of course suicide is an extreme result of poor mental health. Preventing such action, long before it’s considered, is the dream outcome. And, in an area of health where there is often disagreement exactly about how to help people, few could argue that talking is a significant way to achieve that.
Today’s front page promotes a ground-breaking initiative by our colleagues at Radio Hauraki.
Perhaps even rarer than a newspaper dramatically reshaping its front page is a radio station broadcasting no words for a day. But for the first time in New Zealand, from 6am to 6pm today, Radio Hauraki will do just that. No ads, no announcers, no news, no traffic updates. Nothing.
Hauraki’s audience is skewed towards men of a certain age and maybe of a type who haven’t always been great about talking about their mental health. Of the 668 suicides in New Zealand last year, 475 were men.
Today’s No Talk Day — a joint initiative with Movember Foundation NZ — aims to highlight how important it is to talk about mental health and get Kiwi men checking on their mates.
The Herald has been a strong advocate for opening up the conversation about mental health. While our 2017 Break The Silence campaign focused on young people, it was in the context of the need for wider society to feel confident discussing the last taboo.
Subsequently, the Government ordered an inquiry into mental health and addiction and, in the wake of the inquiry making dozens of recommendations, announced a $1.9 billion investment in mental health in this year’s Wellbeing Budget.
At its heart was $455m to expand access to and choice of primary mental health and addiction support, particularly for those with mild to moderate mental health needs.
We’re still waiting for details, some of which were promised for later this year. In the meantime, it would be hugely optimistic to expect a decline when this year’s suicide figures are released.
So we are proud to support Radio Hauraki’s initiative. We stand beside them in encouraging and inspiring more Kiwi men to open up about mental health.
WHERE TO GET HELP:
If you are worried about your or someone else’s mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call 111.
If you need to talk to someone, the following free helplines operate 24/7:
DEPRESSION HELPLINE: 0800 111 757
LIFELINE: 0800 543 354
NEED TO TALK? Call or text 1737
SAMARITANS: 0800 726 666
YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633 or text 234
There are lots of places to get support. For others, click here.