Mayoral Column: Covid-19 conversations on mental wellbeing

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This time of year Council normally seeks nominations for our annual Citizen Awards. As we respond to Covid-19, we’ve decided to ask for these a little later this year instead. 

In the meantime Mayor Volzke is catching up with a few of our previous recipients to chat about Covid-19 and hear their thoughts on what this means for our community as a whole. 

 This is the fourth and final week of the series.

Read this week's column below:

Mayor Neil Volzke 

This week I spoke to Kerry Mramor (2018 recipient) and John Herlihy who along with his wife Pat won an Outstanding Citizen Award in 2018, and asked about the impact on mental health and staying positive during the pandemic response.

John and Kerry shared similar and genuine concerns for the wellbeing of the people in our community. Staying home alone, missing their friends and social meetings, people losing their jobs especially in the tourism industry and financial pressures were the things that John identified in his usual selfless way. “For farmers like me it was carry on as usual, with our bubble covering 900 acres instead of a quarter acre in town,” said John.

When asked about his ideas on how to improve your mind-set, I thought John’s answer was priceless. “Do as you’re told; don’t break the rules. There is light at the end of the tunnel – it’ll all come right. Think positive, take one step at a time and don’t look behind you – take every day as it comes,” says John. That’s the sort of practical answer you might expect from a man of the land whose personal experiences add much mana to his comment.

Kerry and John were very thankful we lived in New Zealand and in particular Stratford where the, “support from friends and neighbours has been marvellous,” says Kerry. She believes, “we should never take things for granted and be grateful. Share with others a smile, a phone call and a friendly greeting.” It strikes me that this is so simple and easy to do, we can all do this and help promote positive mind-sets. Furthermore, don’t stop post Covid -19, having a positive mind-set is a healthy place to be at all times, and I agree with Kerry when she says, “I hope the kindness continues.”

In the longer term the financial pressures that will be faced by some people was a worry for John and Kerry. John identified the tourism sector as “suffering big time” and was keen to see more Kiwi’s travelling around New Zealand. He was pleased to see quite a few at Whangamomona last week, and hoped this would increase.

Kerry encourages those facing financial difficulties to speak up so the organisations like Food Bank that are available to help can do so. “We need to keep our eyes open for these people,” she says.

My final question to John and Kerry was on how we can pull through together as a community. Authentically John answered, “Just by supporting each other, there’ll be a lot of people down – look after them, if you have a mate you’re worried about give him a ring and have a yarn with him or go and have a cup of coffee; now you can go to golf. Just be there to listen.” Kerry reminded us that “everyone copes with things in different ways” and it’s important to respect that in order to support one another.

I hope readers have enjoyed this short series of articles on the community impact of Covid-19. It has been my pleasure bringing them to you. Stay safe, stay well and stay positive.

Citizen awards Kerry Mramor Citizen awards Pat and John

Kerry Mramor (2018 recipient) and John Herlihy who along with his wife Pat won an Outstanding Citizen Award in 2018,