Icy challenge for mental health awareness

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The weather report is wet and chilly for Daryl Higgs, of Wanaka, but it is for a good cause.

He is raising money for the Mental Health Foundation by jumping into the icy waters of Lake Wanaka every day in July.

Each day at 10am Mr Higgs will jump from the jetty on the shores of Lake Wanaka, and record his plunge by posting on social media.

He encouraged others to join him with the challenge, by joining him or just providing support.

“They are free to come down and watch, take some photos,” he said.

The aim was to do something that would be “quite challenging” that would “gain some awareness” of mental health issues.

“The water is really cold. I did go in last week and I was like ‘wow, OK I will remember that’.”

Mental health was an issue that had affected him .

In particular, he had been through two or three “really serious” bouts of depression.

“It was something that I myself had to work through.”

He had depressive and suicidal thoughts.

“Just a lethargy of sort of life itself. Everything just gets on top of you and you are constantly run down.”

Since then Mr Higgs had “learned the tools” to combat his depression, including diet and exercise.

Setting goals and achieving them was another part that helped him, which was why his daily plunge during July would be good for him.

“I’m setting these goals, these targets.”

Achieving the task was “such a relief for the day,” Mr Higgs said.

Safety was a focus for the challenge, and he would be eating right and staying healthy, plus ensuring he was able to get warm and dry immediately after his challenge.

“I’ve got a couple of big woolly robes to wear afterwards.”

Mr Higgs was keen to raise the profile of the Mental Health Foundation, and he encouraged people to speak to their peers when they were having challenges.

The most important thing was to talk about issues, Mr Higgs said.

“You can’t just keep them inside, you can’t just dwell on them.”

To give, visit events.mentalhealth.org.nz/fundraisers/darylhiggs

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