From roses to fairies: how a mental health worker is helping strangers

From roses to fairies: how a mental health worker is helping strangers

INSPIRED by a passion to help others, Joanna Worthington spent Tuesday putting a smile on the face of strangers in the city.

The Coolbellup resident handed out roses in the Murray Street Mall from 10am-2pm to raise awareness of World Suicide Prevention Day, held annually on September 10.

She will be doing so in conjunction with not-for-profit group Roses in the Ocean, with the rose symbolic of hope and resilience.

Having worked in the mental health sector as a peer support and lived experience worker for the better part of the past decade, Ms Worthington knows the importance of reaching out.

She said it was vital to have honest conversations about mental health in order to combat death by suicide numbers.

“Suicide is still a word people don’t want to say out loud, but I think it’s really important to de-stigmatise it,” she said.

Joanna Worthington.

“There’s a misconception if you ask someone about dying by suicide, it will push them further towards it, but we’re wanting to make it okay to have that conversation and we have to have that conversation because eight people a day are dying by suicide and that’s unacceptable.

“That’s a number we can stop. I’d like to think we can, but it would take everyone to understand it and stop whispering it.”

A lived experience of suicide is defined as having had suicidal thoughts, survived a suicide attempt, cared for someone through a suicidal crisis, or been bereaved by suicide.

Having had those experiences in the past, Ms Worthington said they enabled her to connect with those in a similar situation and she knew how important a random act of kindness could be.

“It’s about gifting a rose to someone and saying ‘this is world suicide prevention day, please have a rose as a symbol of hope and resilience’ and then they can have a discussion with people about that,” she said.

“It starts a conversation, but in a positive way without going into the trauma or negativity, gifting people something that can be really beautiful on a day that can be very difficult for a lot of people.”

Ms Worthington’s background in children’s entertainment allows her to dons wings as a fairy at kid’s parties and despite their tender ages, she does not shy away from incorporating lessons about the importance of self-love.

“I’m doing wellness and resilience workshops with children, I get to combine my love of educating children with my passion for wellness in people,” she said.

“All the messages within there are about self care and compassion and authenticity and checking with other people.”

For 24-7 crisis support, you can call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit Lifeline.

Young people seeking support can also contact Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 or visit Kids’ Helpline.

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