John to discuss mental illness


Former All Black and mental health spokesman Sir John Kirwan will speak in Lumsden next month.

Sir John will speak at two sessions at Northern Southland College on October 17.

Sponsorship manager Rose-Marie Schiavuzzi said he would talk during the day to Northern Southland College pupils.

An evening session, which would start at 5.30pm, would be open to the public.

“He will share his experience with mental illness and depression,” Mrs Schiavuzzi said.

“He takes people on a bit of a journey.”

After speaking, Sir John would take questions from the audience, she said.

“It goes for about an hour and is very interactive.”

It was important to have sessions like this in rural communities, Mrs Schiavuzzi said.

“There is a greater need in rural communities.”

It was decided to have the sessions in Lumsden because it was quite central, she said.

“We were hoping to capture a region we hadn’t managed to get to before.”

The session would be free and there would be room for about 300 people, Mrs Schiavuzzi said.

The sessions were a good way for people to discuss mental illness.

“He puts it in a way that makes people want to talk about it.”

It was important to discuss mental illness, Mrs Schiavuzzi said.

Sir John would be available to talk to people after the session as well.

The session with Northern Southland College pupils would be quite different, Mrs Schiavuzzi said.

“He opens up to the kids to do more of a Q&A.”

Sir John said he was looking forward to meeting members of the community.

“I just tell my story,” he said.

“There are a couple of things that are really important for me.

“Firstly, depression, it’s an illness, not a weakness.”

Youth and people in the rural sector had the highest suicide rates in New Zealand and depression was not an issue people could ignore, he said.

“It’s something I want to tackle head on and openly talk about, because you can get through it and there’s a lot of hope out there if you reach out and look for it.”

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