FLASH: Yamba’s Squall and Anchor tattoo artists Josh Pidcock and Ben Ross get ready for this Sunday’s fundraiser for the Clarence Valley Suicide Prevention Committee.
FLASH: Yamba’s Squall and Anchor tattoo artists Josh Pidcock and Ben Ross get ready for this Sunday’s fundraiser for the Clarence Valley Suicide Prevention Committee. Clair Morton

Punctuated tattoos lift taboo on mental health

MENTAL health is slowly becoming a less taboo issue which can only be a good thing given the historically silent treatment it has received.

To help continue the important conversation, Yamba woman Tania Gardoll has planned a special day tomorrow, Mother's Day, to help break down the barriers even further through a simple symbol that has come to represent overcoming mental health challenges.

Ms Gardoll is the administrator of the Clarence Valley Suicide and Depression Support Page 2016 on Facebook, which now has 650 members from as far away as England and the USA and said Sunday's event was an idea suggested by one of her children.

"My eldest son came up the concept so I asked if I could borrow the idea and make it a reality," Ms Gardoll said.

Called the 'Semi-colon Healing and Bonding Project', the day will take place at the Squalls and Anchor tattoo studio in Coldstream St, Yamba for anyone moved enough to endure a little bit of pain and skin to wear the universal symbol for overcoming mental health issues - the semicolon.

"We already have about 40 people from the Clarence area coming along to be tattooed in the one studio, with three artists doing the work all in one day."

Ms Gardoll said the project was also a fundraiser with set-sized semicolon tattoos done for a special price of $80, with larger pieces, with extra colours, etc., available for up to $150. "There is also a reduced price for multiple family members."

To add to social, supportive atmosphere of the day there will also be refreshments available, donated by Coles Grafton and South Grafton, and Farmer Lou's. "All Things Cake is also donating a massive semicolon cake especially for the day. It will be one of their biggest creations ever made."

Ms Gardoll said half of the money collected by the studio was being donated to the Clarence Valley Suicide Prevention Committee, to be used in future programs within the Clarence Valley.

"The project is designed to bring people from different backgrounds, that have similar experiences or illnesses, together in a day of healing and support. Ink can be very therapeutic to people going through grief, and has been known to prevent people who self harm from doing so.

"Tattoos aren't for everyone, which is why we have many other projects being planned."

Ms Gardoll said this was the first project for the group, with a pamper day and an art exhibition fundraiser also planned for this year. She said the Clarence Valley group was originally formed to provide support and information to those affected by suicide but it had become much bigger since then.

"Our discussions include all of the illnesses under the mental health banner now. There are people suffering from PTSD, schizophrenia, bi-polar, multiple personality disorder, depression just to name a few, and they are all helping each other in some incredible ways."



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