Finding hope among blue trees
In Cedar Grove and Logan Reserve, there are blue trees with stories to tell.
Two standing dead trees were given a ‘blue lease on life’ as part of the Blue Tree Project, a charity that is sparking conversations about mental health.
Trees are painted blue to raise awareness and to serve as vibrant reminders that “it’s OK not to be OK”.
What started as a single tree in memory of Jayden Whyte, a young man who took his own life, has turned into a global movement.
In the City of Logan, the initiative is part of a citywide Council-driven project to break down the stigma around mental health as part of Mental Health Week and Blue Tree Day.
The Blue Tree Project opening events at Loganview Park and Cedar Grove Landcare were held on 10 October, with local community groups, associated organisations, and Divisional Councillors in attendance.
Guests dipped their hands in white paint and placed handprints on the tree trunk, as a show of community solidarity in support of mental health awareness.
The tree also prominently features “R U OK?” in white paint.
Nathan St. Ledger, director and ambassador of mental health non-profit A Chance for Change, says an icon like the blue tree is a strong visual reminder that help is out there.
Nathan is also working in the same prevention space with a focus on men’s mental health.
‘Our slogan is “speaking up is manning up”,’ he says.
‘Like a lot of people, I’ve been affected by losing some loved ones to suicide and I’ve had a few battles with mental health myself.
‘I felt like more needed to be done and a close friend of mine started A Chance for Change.’
The non-profit now has around 25 ambassadors across the country, who host talks and meet with community groups to spread the message.
Nathan says starting the conversation can change someone’s life.
‘We live in a high-pressure environment nowadays and whether we like it or not, there’s a lot of social pressure to look and act a certain way and it’s amplified by things like social media,’ he says.
‘By giving people the right information and tools, they can learn to take control of their own mental health and effectively drive their own car on that journey.
‘The change starts with us – that’s each one of us in the community.’
In the past 7 years, Nathan has witnessed young people changing their perspectives on mental health and looking out for their friends.
‘It’s not why we do it, but it’s very grounding when someone says they’ve been able to start working on their own mental health after hearing about yours,’ he says.
‘The power of vulnerability really enables people to realise that they’re never alone in their battles and that help is out there.’