Rotorua mountain bikers have united to help fund mental health services, locally and nationally.
Photos: Mead Norton
In 2017, the Rotorua Mountain Bikers Ball raised over $NZD25,000 to help Suicide Prevention and Concussion Awareness.
“As a community, we felt that we could make a difference in the lives of those who’re feeling isolated, alone and vulnerable,” said Philly Angus from the Ball’s organising committee. “In turn, making Rotorua a happier and healthier place to live. We chose to do this in the wake of losing a member of our riding community, a friend, a brother, a son, Mark Dunlop.”
The money raised helped bring Mike King's 'Key to Life' Programme to every secondary school in the Rotorua area and two community meetings, open to the general public.
The committee also made a donation to Rotorua's First Response Unit in the Whakarewarewa Forest to continue providing critical first aid and concussion awareness to injured forest users.
“And we gave $10,000 to subsidise a pioneering programme offering free private psychological counselling for those in our community who need urgent help, but may not be able to pay for this, themselves,” Ms Angus continued.
The programme is the brainchild of local clinical psychologist and mountain biker, Erin Eggleston.
“GPs want to be able to access confidential psychological services for their patients who meet the threshold for a diagnosis of clinically significant depression,” he said. “We’re talking about someone who is depressed, down, sad most of the day, nearly every day, and has lost pleasure in life most of the day, nearly every day, for at least two weeks, but more likely several months. If we can assist with treating clinical depression, we can make a difference in the prevention of suicide.”
Dr Eggleston is Director of Clinical Psychology at QE Health Wellness and Spa in Rotorua and wants to see psychologists working closely with local doctors to help people in this situation.
“We realise cost can be a barrier to access this for some people,” he continued. “Our experience is that the four funded sessions we offer to those who meet the threshold criteria, result in tangible improvements.
They also really notice and appreciate that the community is behind them when I tell them that it’s funded by local mountain bikers.”
The fund was recently topped up by a $4000 donation from the Rotorua Singlespeed Society after the success of the Singlespeed Mountain Bike World Championships in November, last year.
“Our Kiwi entries come from all over New Zealand so we gave $20,000 to Lifeline Aotearoa as it's a national organisation,” said Paul Laing from the Society. “Locally, we were really proud to donate to the volunteers who help maintain the trails in the Whakarewarewa Forest, to the Rotorua Brain Injury Trust and to Erin’s programme.
Our events are all about fun, so it’s great to be able to contribute to some serious projects at the same time.”
Local doctors can refer patients to the programme.
“People can also self-refer,” said Dr Eggleston. “Give QE Health’s Psychology Administrator, Judy Savage, a call on 349 5255 or email her at Judy.Savage@qehealth.co.nz.”
Lifeline AUS: 13 11 44
Lifeline NZ (suicide prevention) - 0800 543 354
Depression Helpline - 0800 111 757
Suicide Crisis Helpline - 0508 828 865