Mike proves it’s cool to korero

Mental health educator and motivational speaker, Mike King, proved its ‘cool to korero’ to students at Pukekohe High School last week.

Mike visited the school on Tuesday 4 April to give a talk on the topic of mental health, including anxiety, depression and suicide prevention.

The visit was organised by the school’s peer mediator team and was aimed at teaching kids to ‘break down the masks’ and help each other out. He told students about his own school days and 30-year battle with drugs, alcohol and depression. He encouraged the students to find solutions for their problems by letting them know it’s ok to ask for help.

Mike’s speech was well received by the students, some of whom said it had been a big help. “There are people’s lives and thoughts that he has directly touched or tapped into today,” said head student, Logan Soole.

“Mike has saved kids today and empowered a percentage of a generation to save people too. He is a hero creating heroes.”

The students were so moved by Mike’s talk they broke into a haka to say thank-you.

Guidance Counsellor, Sita Bakker, said the sessions for the students were great to create conversation about mental health.

“In the last couple of days we have already seen students come forward and approach us in the Guidance Department,” she said.

More than 200 community members attended Tuesday night’s talk, enjoying King’s frank sense of humour and ability to bring a serious issue out into the open. His message was one of positivity and he urged parents to listen to the younger generation, allowing them to share their thoughts and feelings.

“Mike is the right person for this job,” said Ms Bakker. “Students, teachers and parents alike were very responsive and found him very entertaining, but at the same time he delivered a serious message with a sense of reality and integrity.”

Along with King, a range of community counsellors and agencies attended the community session to offer their services and let people know where they can get help.

To thank King for his time, the school and community raised a koha of $1542 to support the work of the Key to Life Charitable Trust.

“We hope this goes some way to help them continue to do the great work they do,” says Ms Bakker.

Story by Justine Gustafson