Tower De Force for mental health awareness

By D'Angelo Martin

A fundraising event for the I Am Hope charity has called upon the country's military and emergency response services to put themselves to the test to help raise awareness about mental health. 

Nicole Bancroft of the Royal Navy of New Zealand says, "You have to get help and you have to always remember that there's someone who cares about you in your family or in your environment."

This year's Tower De Force multi-discipline fitness event drew military and emergency response teams together to support I Am Hope fund counselling services for Kiwi kids and help change the way New Zealanders think about mental health.

"It's something you can't see, but it's happening. You know it's happening, but no one likes to come up about it. So supporting it shows that you're supporting everyone that's going through it," says Bancroft.

The event put the teams to the test in a battle of skill, teamwork, stamina and strength - qualities needed when dealing with mental health.

Organiser Mike Caddy explains what the course is and the challenges involved.

"We start off with some military skills, we've got firemen to carry jerry cans, we're doing some pretty heavy tyre flips, some rope climbing as well, and then we hit the tower," he says. 

"So, you've got to run up the tower and tag an individual on the 44th floor, then that individual runs around and does some first aiding. Once they've finished that scenario, they run up to the 66th floor and tag a couple of mask climbers. 

"They've got to climb not quite all the way to the top, but to the 68th floor about 300m above the ashfelt. Grab a flag, come back down and they use the flag as a baton. They've got to get it back down here and then they've got to raise it up to the flag pole."

As someone who has been through mental health challenges and overcome them, Nicole knows the importance of speaking up and talking to someone.

"People really do need to speak up about what's happening with themselves, I don't know why we think it's a weak thing. I know when I went through it I thought it was weak, but it's actually the most strongest thing to do is to ask for help."

This is the second time Nicole's climbed the rope and she says she's determined to finish the course.