Depression is an issue Wanaka builder Glen Thurston knows all too well, having seen it affect his father and going through it himself.
A former firefighter and gym owner, Mr Thurston said he had battled with severe depression, self-medicating with alcohol, and his recovery inspired him to help others reach out for help.
“I’ve come out the other side,” he said.
“Life is awesome.”
There are an average 53 deaths a year from suicide within the construction industry Thurston has partnered with health and wellbeing initiative Mates in Construction to bring awareness to the issue.
He had pledged that, from December 1, he would climb Hawea’s Corner Peak (1683m) every day for 53 days, a total of 89,199 vertical metres, and invited others to join him.
He hoped he would be joined by other trade workers and that owners of construction businesses in the Queenstown and Central Lakes District would bring their teams along to hike one of the 53 days.
In New Zealand, there was a perception that speaking up about mental health issues was weak, he said.
“Especially in my industry, when we see someone struggling or trying to ask for help, we tend to brush it off or look the other way.”
Most construction workers required a first aid certificate to work in the industry, he said.
“Why is it any different with mental health?
“We all need to know the signs, to recognise when someone isn’t quite OK and not just brush it off.”
Anyone interested in joining him or seeking more information can do so through the turnthecorner.co.nz website.