Stu­dent­led fes­ti­val to pro­mote well­be­ing

Otago Daily Times - - Dunedin - JOHN LEWIS john.lewis@odt.co.nz

THE Sil­ver­line Men­tal Health Fes­ti­val started with a splash in Dunedin yes­ter­day.

A large group of Univer­sity of Otago and Otago Poly­tech­nic stu­dents took to the waves at St Kilda Beach in bright­coloured swimwear, to raise aware­ness of the event.

The in­au­gu­ral Sil­ver­line Fes­ti­val is a stu­dent­led event, aimed at ex­pos­ing stu­dents to ways of well­be­ing, through a se­ries of thought­pro­vok­ing talks, work­shops, mu­sic, yoga, fun and food.

Speak­ers in­clude The Indigo Project founder and head psy­chol­o­gist Mary Hoang, OneWave founder Grant Tre­bilco, for­mer mul­ti­ple Muay Thai box­ing cham­pion Richie Hard­core and Univer­sity of Otago psy­chol­ogy se­nior lec­turer Damian Scarf.

Dr Scarf said he had se­vere anx­i­ety through­out his un­der­grad­u­ate and post­grad­u­ate study, and was look­ing for­ward to shar­ing his ex­pe­ri­ences with those at the fes­ti­val.

‘‘A lot of things that I did to deal with the anx­i­ety made things worse,’’ he said.

‘‘For ex­am­ple, deal­ing with anx­i­ety about grades by study­ing more and dis­con­nect­ing from the peo­ple around me.’’

The re­sult was, he went to a ‘‘dark place’’ that he did not want oth­ers to get to.

‘‘Hope­fully, talk­ing about my story and how I came out of that dark place will be help­ful.

‘‘At the very least, it will let peo­ple go­ing through some­thing sim­i­lar know that they are not alone,’’ he said.

Dis­cus­sion top­ics would in­clude mind­ful­ness, healthy re­la­tion­ships, stress man­age­ment, beat­ing pro­cras­ti­na­tion, sui­cide pre­ven­tion, men­tal health, and drug and al­co­hol is­sues.

Dr Scarf said talk­ing about th­ese things openly was very im­por­tant and the Sil­ver­line Fes­ti­val would en­able par­tic­i­pants to talk about them in an en­vi­ron­ment that was sup­port­ive and in­spir­ing.

‘‘Talk­ing about men­tal health can be heavy, but I think the fes­ti­val en­vi­ron­ment will help to bal­ance things out.’’

The fes­ti­val is open to the pub­lic and be­gins at 8am to­day in the Univer­sity of Otago Link.

PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY

Wa­ter fea­ture . . . Univer­sity of Otago and Otago Poly­tech­nic stu­dents and staff (from left) Pas­cal Ziegelr (23), Kasey Miles (21), Philipp Loidolt (25), Chris Davies (22), Jess Tay­lor (22), Elaina Moulds (23), Willem van der Kaag (22), Molly McLaren (22), Lucy Power (21), Siob­han Rus­sel (21), Lau­ren Smith (26) and Mary Be­ban (23) make a splash at St Kilda Beach as part of a pre­launch event for the Sil­ver­line Men­tal Health Fes­ti­val this week­end.

Damian Scarf.

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