NINE artists, nine colours and nine services to represent the nine lives lost to suicide in Australia each day.
That is the powerful message behind the Butterfly Effect, a project involving local artists and mental health support services to inspire people to speak openly about their own mental health stories.
The project is part of the Butterflies for Mental Health campaign and was founded by Port Macquarie local Ashley Whittington.
"Having people come together and openly speak about mental health is the whole aim of the campaign and it's great to see it all happen and for the artworks to be on display," Ashley said.
Each of the artworks features origami butterflies folded by the nine services involved in the project.
The project had to be modified this year to adhere to lockdown restrictions, with the original aim to fold 10,000 origami butterflies.
"The intent for this year's project was to hold community events where people could participate and help fold 10,000 butterflies, but it's nice for people to see that all of this was going on in the background and that we were able to hold the launch event," Ashley said.
The project is facilitated by Lifeline Mid Coast and supported by a number of local mental health service providers.
"The artworks are incredible and will hopefully open up the conversation around mental health," Lifeline Mid Coast's Lisa Willows said.
"Each of the artists involved detailed how many butterflies they would need for their artwork and the service providers go to work, it was a collaborative process."
Artist Cherie Hurley said she is thankful to be involved in the project as the she herself has experienced depression and anxiety.
She said raising awareness about mental health is something she is passionate about.
"Spreading awareness about mental health is something personal for me. After the last two years which have been tough I was able to put my emotions into the artwork which has been very helpful for me," she said.
Lifeline Mid Coast suicide prevention and postvention manager Kelly Saidey said supporting the initiative is important to the organisation.
"Ashley came to us last year and asked us to be involved and it's been such a big success for all of us," she said.
"Getting people talking about mental health is so important, especially after the past two years with natural disasters and the pandemic.
"Having support services helping those in need come together and raise awareness is also very important."
A number of mental health services across the region also participated in the project by featuring stenciled origami butterfly wings painted by local artist Brad Collins on their businesses.
The Butterfly Effect was supported by a number of local services including Lifeline Mid Coast, Endeavour Mental Health Recovery Clubhouse, Neami National, Werin Aboriginal Corporation Medical Clinic, Mid North Coast Health, Headspace Port Macquarie, New Horizons, Charles Sturt University and Liberty Domestic & Family Violence Specialist Services.
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