COVERED in paint and with smiles spread wide, community spirit was high as the Shire of Coorow came together last Wednesday to paint a tree blue, bringing awareness and hopefully discussion about mental health.
Armed with brushes, blue paint and a free barbecue on offer to fuel their work, members of the community painted an old tree in the Coorow Rotary Park as part of the Blue Tree Project and World Mental Health Month.
"Nearly every rural community has been affected in some way by the tragic results of severe mental illness," said Coorow shire president Moira Girando.
The Blue Tree Project is an initiative that started in 2019 and serves to encourage people to have conversations about mental health, after Jayden Whyte, Mukinbudin, took his own life in 2018.
"We are living in an increasingly isolated society and this has been exacerbated by COVID-19," Ms Girando said.
"There are people who may be scared to go out and if they have mental health issues, that's only making life harder and worse for them.
"I think the trees, in my opinion, are simply to bring awareness and, perhaps, prompt us to reach out to someone.
"Someone might be feeling blue, and just a smile, a hello or how are you, if you haven't seen someone for a while, touch base with them - a simple gesture can often lead to a person reaching out for help and it might just brighten their day."
The community also took the opportunity to paint windmills.
A longstanding tourist attraction for the town, the windmills were painted to represent everlasting flowers, a nod to the Coorow town slogan 'an everlasting community'.
The shire hoped to create a mentally healthy future with its blue tree and to spread the message that 'It's OK not to be OK'.
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