Handy hardware team members are swapping power tools for paint brushes, in the name of mental health.

When invited to participate in a voluntary mental health campaign, as part of a workplace wellbeing initiative, team members at Bunnings Riccarton drew on their own experiences.

“I really just thought about what makes me feel good if I’m having a bit of a down day and art is one of them,” said Bunnings Riccarton In Home team member Jessie Ellis.

“Researching it more, I found that art has a positive impact on those who are viewing it as well, so that’s where it came from,” said Jessie.

Team members then had three months to produce a piece of art, ahead of their awareness-raising inhouse exhibition.

Some 16 team members expressed their interest, and eight met the final deadline.

For Jessie, who had been through some dark times, the campaign was hugely personal.

“My painting is of a horse. A big part of me getting back on track was going out and being with my horses and riding. So I combined those two things that impact my mental health and put it in a painting.”

Activities organiser Amy Maclennan said it was important workplaces like Bunnings made the health and wellbeing of their team a priority, not only for them but also for the wider community.

“We thought this would be a great opportunity to start a conversation and create awareness of people’s mental health,” said Maclennan.

The team wanted to ensure staff felt safe at work, not only in a physical sense, but emotionally.

The art, which included photos, sculptures and paintings, would go to the Daisy Chain Trust, a new suicide prevention charity in Canterbury.

Maclennan said the initiative had brought the team together and made them aware of each other’s experiences.

Register Operator Sandra Chamberlain found the process of producing a painting to be very therapeutic, and it had given her the confidence to be open about her own mental health.

“It proved to me, when I did it, that I could do something because I’ve just been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder,” said Chamberlain.

She produced a vibrant yellow painting, to represent positivity and the open heart she offered to everyone around her.

The team had learnt a lot from the campaign, and were already committed to following it up with a similar initiative.

“If you’ve got a happy and healthy team, that will roll on to the customers because if you’re calm in your mind then you can deal with anything,” said Chamberlain.

“At the end of the day, mental health is never going to go away. Mental health is just part of everyday living, like eating and drinking,” said Chamberlain.