Seniors at Baptistcare Gracehaven Residential Care in Rockingham join Blue Tree Project

Headshot of Luke McPherson
Luke McPhersonSound Telegraph
Resident Steve French with Gracehaven’s Blue Tree.
Camera IconResident Steve French with Gracehaven’s Blue Tree. Credit: Tony McDonough

Seniors at Baptistcare Gracehaven Residential Care in Rockingham are pushing the conversation about mental health and spreading the word that it’s “OK not to be OK”.

The residents have painted a dead tree in the centre’s garden as part of the national Blue Tree Project, designed to spark difficult conversations and encourage people to speak up when battling mental health concerns.

Resident Steve French with Gracehaven’s Blue Tree.
Camera IconResident Steve French with Gracehaven’s Blue Tree. Credit: Tony McDonough

Baptistcare Gracehaven said while many schools and community groups across Australia had painted trees, only a few aged-care facilities have got behind the campaign.

Chaplain Rob Mason said he spotted a Blue Tree on a drive to Dunsborough, which prompted him to research the significance behind taking a paint brush to dead trees.

“After my weekend away I walked past a dead tree in our Gracehaven garden and suddenly thought we should join the Blue Tree Project,” he said.

“I spoke to staff and residents, and everyone loved the idea of giving the tree a second life as a symbol for breaking the stigma associated with mental health.”

Steve French, 69, and Richard Grigson, 83, said they had both experienced “blue days” at different stages in their lives and felt being able to talk to others and seek support was vital.

The pair even put on some overalls and gave Rob a hand to paint the tree in the Blue Tree Project’s signature hue.

“We are proud to contribute tree No.754 to the national project,” Rob said.

“It is definitely a conversation starter and a reminder that maintaining positive mental health is important at every age.”

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