Pink hair highlights mental health

Highlights for hope: Emily Squires and Chantelle Drolc with their new pink hair. Picture: GREG ELLIS

Highlights for hope: Emily Squires and Chantelle Drolc with their new pink hair. Picture: GREG ELLIS

Last December Novotel Wollongong Northbeach human resources manager Emily Squires lost her father to a mental health condition.

This week she went public to explain how she was using that experience to help others.

Mrs Squires sees her role as being all about helping, supporting and encouraging people.

But she took that one step further this week by highlighting her hair pink in preparation for next Friday's Amazing Race Wollongong.

Mrs Squires co-founded that annual event and is hoping to raise $10,000 for the Highlights for Hope campaign this year.

To date 25 teams have entered and registrations are still open at racegong.com.au.

As a marshal for the Amazing Race she cannot compete, but Mrs Squires and friends Chantelle Drolc and Julie Van Meegen are raising funds at racegong.com.au/teams.php?team=emily-chantelle-and-julies-hair-drive by turning their hair pink.

Their hair was done by Colours at Northbeach owner Tomma Giorgio and they hope it helps make mental health a talking point.

Mrs Squires wants to promote conversation and the importance of seeking help.

"My dad was very close to me," she said.

"It has been a really tough journey for me but my role here at the hotel is all about staff wellbeing, positive psychology, keeping people happy and having a positive work environment."

When Mrs Squires lost her father she said the Novotel general manager Walter Immoos was a huge help.

"My dad suffered from depression for years and he was up and down, but we thought he was quite good at the time so ... it was a huge shock," she said.

"Fortunately for me my brother, sister and I are very close, so we supported each other through this really awful time. And we were really close with Dad. It had a big impact on us all.

"Walter has supported me so much through everything. Because of his own history he knew what I was feeling and was able to support me during the rollercoaster I went through."

Mrs Squires said the events of the last eight months had helped her to help others.

"If my dad had something like the Mental Health Clubhouse then that may have been something that helped save his life. It is important people know it is okay to open those conversations," she said.

"An important thing for me has been educating people around me to see the signs as well.

"Hopefully I can be a positive role model to help people be positive and think positively.

"What my journey has taught me is to be aware of other people's feelings and be aware of some of the trigger points. And when you start to notice that things are going wrong that is the time to act."

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