Mayor’s mental health message

Headshot of Shannon Smith
Shannon SmithAlbany Advertiser
City of Albany Mayor Dennis Wellington, centre, with Albany MenShed’s Phil Dodds and Rex Davies.
Camera IconCity of Albany Mayor Dennis Wellington, centre, with Albany MenShed’s Phil Dodds and Rex Davies. Credit: Albany Advertiser, Laurie Benson

Albany Mayor Dennis Wellington has called for more mental health awareness and support to tackle Albany’s “problem with suicide” at the unveiling of a new blue tree.

Speaking at the launch of the public art installation at the Albany MenShed on Tuesday, Mr Wellington said Albany had double the suicide rate of Perth.

He supported WA’s Blue Tree Project because it encouraged communities to open up and talk about depression.

“A psychiatrist told me that 75 per cent of the people that commit suicide have never spoken to anybody about it,” Mr Wellington said.

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“The sooner we realise that we have a problem with suicide in Albany, the sooner we get things like this that can help.”

Albany’s new blue tree stands tall at the Albany MenShed in Centennial Park, bearing the words “It’s OK not to be OK”.

Blue trees have become a symbol for those with mental health issues to stand strong since Mukinbudin man Jayden Whyte took his own life one year ago.

MenShed member Phil Dodds was instrumental in making the Albany tree happen.

With a background as an artist, he saw an opportunity to turn donated steel into something useful to the community.

“The Blue Tree Project is there to make people aware — you really don’t know when people are going to commit suicide,” he said.

“Maybe the blue tree is going to say to them that it is OK not to be OK.

“The more that there are around, the more people will notice and not feel hopeless.”

Fellow member Rex Davies said if the blue tree prompted at least one person to talk about their depression, it had been worth it.

“It is interesting how many people in the shed have come up to me since we began this project and said that they have or have had depression,” he said.

Mr Wellington said he believed there were a lack of places where people could talk about their problems in Albany.

He said depression affected almost everyone at some stage of their life.

“They get to a stage where sometimes things get tough and this blue tree exercise is so that they can get someone to talk to when it does,” he said.

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