The Perth Children’s Hospital Foundation launched a mass public art exhibition in January as part of its major campaign to raise awareness of children’s mental health, which has seen a huge pod of wildly colourful dolphin sculptures painted by local artists ‘swim’ into Perth’s streets, parks and public spaces.
Gold Industry Group Director Sharon Warburton is also a Non-Executive Director of the Perth Children’s Hospital Foundation and a driving force behind The Big Splash WA initiative, which aims to address the drastic increase in young people presenting to medical professionals with mental health issues.
"The project is sending a clear message to all WA children that they are not alone; it's ok to talk about your feelings and concerns; real help is available," said Ms Warburton.
"I encourage parents to download the Big Splash WA app to explore the 36 large pod of wildly coloured dolphin sculptures in Perth and Northbridge with their kids to unlock mental health tips, special rewards and offers.
"Everyone can play a part in helping us promote awareness of childhood mental wellbeing and raise valuable funds for the new hospital and its Child and Adolescent Mental Health Unit," Ms Warburton concluded.
Sharon is also a passionate advocate for mental health and wellbeing in mining and supported the Gold Industry Group’s mental health tour with not-for-profit LIVIN last year, to seek to change the way the industry and society understands, perceives and interprets mental health.
The dolphins will be in town until Sunday 4 March, with two spectacular dolphins proudly sponsored by member Deloitte.
Whilst The Big Splash WA Art Trail ends on March 4, there will be a final opportunity to see the entire pod of dolphins at a special Farewell Weekend on March 17 and 18, before they swim off to their forever homes at The Big Splash WA Auction.
The pod will be joined by a number of small dolphin calves painted and decorated by children throughout WA participating in The Big Splash WA Schools Program. For more information on the Farewell Weekend visit www.thebigsplashwa.com.au/farewell
GIG Gold Partner The Perth Mint has also donated $60,000 worth of Young Collector coin albums to the care facility to brighten the stay of unwell children and champion The Big Splash.
The campaign responds to the alarming statistic that four times as many young people now present to Emergency Departments with mental health crises including repeated self-injury and attempted suicide compared to five years ago.
Carrick Robinson, Perth Children’s Hospital Foundation CEO, says mental health issues in children and young people tend to be left unspoken, eliciting persisting feelings of shame and stigma in families which leads to a lack of advocacy for services and research in this vital area.
“The team working on The Big Splash WA at Perth Children’s Hospital Foundation is aiming to raise the profile of mental health to reduce stigma around the issue and ensure our children and young people know where to turn for professional help when they need it most,” says Mr Robinson.
“Clinical experts are telling us that early intervention is critical, which is why Perth Children’s Hospital Foundation has joined forces with clinical experts from the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service to create The Big Splash WA.
“Visiting the Art Trail is great fun for all the family, whilst enabling parents, guardians and family members to start conversation about kids’ mental health.”
The dolphins have been painted by a number of WA artists, including artist and school teacher Claire Davenhall, Matt McLarty, Jennifer Sulaj, Merise Seko, Alister Yiap, Susan Joy Lu and Rachael Lemon.
The Big Splash Art Trail is being run in conjunction with The Big Splash WA Schools Program, which helps teachers and parents navigate the topic of mental health and wellbeing with their students and children.
With a focus on building resilience, the program teaches children to recognise their emotions and develop essential coping strategies. Participating schools receive a series of age appropriate student resource kits, each accompanied by a teacher and parent kit.
Kits are linked back to the school curriculum with student worksheets, class and individual activities, and details of mental health resources and organisations able to provide practical support. For more information on the Schools Program contact Perth Children’s Hospital Foundation on (08) 9489 1100 or visit www.thebigsplashwa.com.au
The Gold Industry Group and its members are also working to reduce the stigma and increase awareness of mental health in the community and the mining industry. Find out more about their partnership with LIVIN.